The Bud Light discontinuity and an unprecedented tabloid deletion
By Isaac Simpson at The Carousel
In the span of seven years, our beloved mega corporations have become canvasses for far-left propaganda. Nike went against America, Gillette went against men, the NFL went gay, and Postmates’ launched a “bottoms menu” encouraging customers to heighten anal sex by ordering certain foods. These weren’t one offs. They were broadcasted to the public, seen by kids. Some people threatened boycotts, but normies shrugged it off. Just marketers trying to get attention, nothing to see here.
But then Bud Light put a Theater Kid on its iconic blue can. Just one step too far. The perfect humiliation. The ultimate symbol of the American working class painted over with a performative homosexual influencer. There was simply no capitalist explanation. In no world would gay elites and Brooklyn dog moms ever drink Bud Light, and no reasonable marketing person could think otherwise. Even my most centrist, reasonable, rational friends texted me. “Wow…I thought this was an April Fool’s joke…this is insane!” It will be remembered as a tipping point.
But while the can itself is the bigger and more distracting story, a smaller one reveals the importance of this moment. The Daily Mail published, then quietly took down, a tabloid article with paparazzi shots of the marketing executive behind the atrocity. No media sources, left or right, have covered the deletion. The Daily Mail said nothing about it, no retraction. It’s not the article’s existence that matters—there’s been others published about her, but none quite so demeaning. It’s that powerful people were so appalled by the yellow press treating a marketing executive as a public figure that they demanded a silent retraction.
The marketing person in question is Alissa Heinerscheid, née Gordon, a Harvard WASP (apparently they do still exist, and this is what they’re doing) with New York Times nuptials and an $7.5 million condo overlooking Central Park. She has not the slightest f**ing clue what a Bud Light-and-Parliaments liquid lunch feels like when taken at a tailgate, construction site, or par 3 golf course—surely 80%+ of use cases for this terrible “beer,” if you could even call it that anymore.
There’s just something about her. A TV-ready quality. That long face. Her gummy cackle. The way her bony fingers claw at the air as she describes, on a Zoom call, how Bud Light is “dead in the water” if she doesn’t take drastic steps to alienate all its customers. Is she hideous? Kinda hot? Impossible to tell. But the world could finally see what those of us unlucky enough to work in Big Marketing have seen for a long time. The Ivy League corporate harridan, “work wife” to the Hype Dad, and co-controller of “the narrative” we hear so much about.
I’ve been laboring under this archetype of a decade. A master of indirect communication, she sits quietly at the top of the food chain. Her weapons are sighs and frowns. Beige, ghostly figures—always pretty, but not that pretty, well-dressed, but not that well dressed. Elizabeth Holmes was one. The Away CEO who abused her employees was one. They surprise you with their vacantness; they always seem a bit melancholy, a bit sad to be talking to you, a tactic that makes employees want to please them. “Be kind!” they shout, as they strike you.
They absolutely hate me and everyone like me, first because any white man without the fey manners required in the Ivy League scares them, and second because meritocracy—actual meritocracy, not box-checking—terrifies them to their very core. Beyond their veil of performative tiredness, they don’t actually offer anything besides management, and any time they try to “do a thing,” you see what happens.
Sensing that Heinerscheid herself represented the rarely-seen face of an all-powerful hydra (which we barely knew existed before 2016, and which now seems to literally run the world), shameless tabloid Daily Mail sent paparazzi after her in Manhattan as she grabbed coffee and met friends in Central Park. The hit piece contained the kind of mean-spirited fact-finding usually reserved for disgraced celebrities and public enemies: the $7.5 million condo, unflattering photos of her looking frumpy and overweight in leggings, she was seen with her tony friend group “laughing and smiling despite the backlash the company is facing.”
Giving her the tabloid treatment presents something totally new and deeply populist. Paparazzi exposing a propaganda minister. Putting her picture in the paper was one thing…but following her to her $7.5 million home? That cut too near the bone. No matter if her propaganda follows us to our homes every single day. The media establishment usually protects such individuals, because it is such individuals. So quickly, quietly, the article disappeared (although a version of it is still discoverable here, and thanks to Good Citizen for digging this up).
We’re left to speculate on the reasons—threats of litigation? Nepotistic negotiations? Payoffs?—we don’t know. But the deletion and the total media silence reminds me of the time I published an “LA’s Worst Landlords” list in Curbed. It was deleted within 48 hours due to legal threats from inside LA’s real-estate-centric power structure. Curbed never commented on it and no other publication carried the story, I assume, out of fear. When you really draw blood, they don’t stage a show about it. They hide it as best they can.
A friend tells me it’s all a game of “dinner party politics.” The globo-Belgian owner of Bud Light, AB InBev, has a new office in Chelsea, flooding the corners of Manhattan with yet more marketers. The marketing bourgeois view themselves as frustrated artists, but real artists (the sons and daughters of the actual elite) don’t want these dorks at their parties. Indeed, I’ve never met so many hardcore DSA-type communists as in advertising; good-looking beard-and-glasses bros with flabby bellies and cute little hedgehog faces poking out from behind the mess. The account women are natural social climbers who will shoulder their way into this show or that party, dipping their proboscises into that sweet social nectar; triumphant in Monday’s snack sessions. The theory goes: these groups compete with each other for New York Times-adjacent cool points, now solely conferred via acts of self-flagellation by the white cis ruling class, nobles scrambling to demonstrate devotion to the king’s new religion.
Social-competition may very well have given birth to the trans can. Heinerscheid may really have meant to “update” a “sinking” brand (AKA the most popular beer in America) the only way she knew how. She just didn’t know how, having been taught at Harvard no real skills. What we’re seeing may be less conspiracy and more rot.
Bud Light’s non-apology over the matter shows just what a precarious position the organization is in. Not because of any boycott; the whole notion of “Go Woke, Go Broke,” is cope, with #BoycottGillette and #JustBurnIt causing temporary dips in stock price; the offending mega corps buy low, then profit when the price rises back up a few months later. The revenue they lose in the meantime? Just a drop in the bucket for a global conglomerate. If Go Woke, Go Broke meant anything, Nike wouldn’t have also emblazoned itself with the same Theater Kid as Bud Light (I’m not gonna link to it).
AB InBev’s precarious position comes from the fact that it can’t fire Heinerscheid. It can’t apologize. It can’t rededicate itself to the American working class, that deplorable mass of Christian bigots. Global brands are now unable to purge themselves of weak links, insofar as they forward the correct ideologies. This is classical Communism—there is no good or bad performance, only good or bad people, and no good Party Member can be held accountable. “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
In 2016, just before Trump, Budweiser literally changed its name to America for the summer. Today, that would be a hate crime. What about Bud’s incredibly cringe attempt at America-signaling in the wake of the can controversy? Like the deleted Daily Mail story, it amounts to subsequent remedial measures proving that a real blow was struck. As long as propaganda ministers remain hidden, they can destroy as much culture as they want. But once they’re revealed, they might find it a little harder to sigh-and-pout their destructive ideas to fruition.
People compare the power structure of the global elites to a Hydra. Cut off one head, two more will arise in its place. Some take this to mean that identifying and exposing our enemies is a waste of time, or that we’ll inevitably fail to find the right ones. Better to focus on our own tent, quietly converting fence-sitting elites to our side, moving the mountain one stone at a time. A process, we’re told, “that could take a very long time.”
I believe the fight can be now, and is now. Let’s stick with the Hydra metaphor: a poison-spitting beast with nine heads, one immortal. Hercules killed it by evading the poison, chopping off the heads one by one as his frend Iolaus burned the stumps, and this despite being attacked by a giant crab sent by Hera. Only through a methodical, consistent pattern of poison evasion, head-targeting, chopping, and cauterization could he finally reach and conquer the immortal head, which he then buried under a rock. We have the friends, we can dodge the poison, and we’re just now learning where to aim. Watch for which moves deal damage; identify, swing, cauterize, repeat. This Hydra has a glass jaw. And it knows we’re here to kill it.