According to a new study, "For every hour that American teens listen to music, they hear more than three references to brand-name alcohol — about 34 in the course of day." Cue the pearl-clutching.
It seems really easy to target hip-hop, which has always had an element of braggadocio and conspicuous consumption. Amy Winehouse sang about beer and her attachment to the bottle; Tom Waits, Loretta Lynn and Chumbawumba also extolled the virtues (and vices) of alcohol. And! Some of my all time favorite booze songs — Wynonnie Harris's "Quiet Whiskey" and "Don't Take My Whiskey Away From Me," Amos Milburn's "One Scotch, One Burbon, One Beer," Jimmy Liggins' "Drunk" — are over fifty years old. Sure, maybe those tracks aren't endorsing particular brands, but artists have been inspired by hooch for eons, and pointing the finger at hip-hop feels a little faux-fear-mongery. Don't mention your brand of vodka! Pan up from Elvis's swiveling hips while you're at it!
It's true that some of these liquor companies are getting free advertising, but is it any less bothersome when the artist his promoting his or her own brand? Anyway, Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media, culture and communications at New York University, has a good point:
"Kids are not the only ones listening to rap. With beer commercials during football games, they are doing the same thing… I don't get the sense that it is specifically aimed at underage kids. They are just singing and rapping about my life and what is important to me, and this is what I drink and drive. It's a token of my lifestyle."