Anheuser-Busch and Denzel's Drunken Flight

Denzel Washington’s newest film, Flight, is about an airline pilot plagued with alcoholism. While actual flight plays a relatively small part in the movie, actual alcoholism does not. In fact, alcoholism is what the movie is really about. It is not an action movie with a bit of drama; it is a drama with a bit of action. Some viewers are even expressing feelings of being “deceived” by the film’s trailers; but let’s face it, would a movie about alcoholism really pack the theaters?

Even Anheuser-Busch (AB) is getting in on the action, asking Paramount Pictures, one of the film’s production companies, to hide images of AB products—namely Budweiser beer labels. Robert McCarthy, an AB vice-president, wrote a letter to Paramount claiming that AB had no idea that Budweiser would be portrayed in the movie. In the letter, he wrote:

"We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving. It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, and Paramount chose to use one of our brands in this manner."

It is also disappointing that AB would think that Flight is remotely “condoning the misuse of their products.” The movie is a disturbingly accurate presentation of the life of an alcoholic; it is not meant to be a glorifying look at the world of alcohol by any stretch. AB certainly understands that their product can be easily “misused” and is more often than not. In fact, in their letter, they admit that they actively “promote responsible drinking.” Isn’t a dramatic representation of an individual addicted to drink also promoting “responsible drinking”? Simply saying “drink responsibly” is noble, but maybe an in your face movie about the “demons” that alcoholics fight every day is also necessary every once in a while. I still remember the effect that When a Man Loves a Woman had on me when I watched it years ago. Alcoholism is a very real problem in America and a hard-to-watch portrayal of a spiraling drunk might be needed from time to time to remind us of alcohol’s destructive potential.

But one must certainly ask why AB would only now be voicing its opposition to the film. How many other hundreds of movies have featured Budweiser labels that were most definitely not promoting “responsible” consumption. In fact, responsible drinking is almost never portrayed on screen. When was the last time you saw a film where an individual—in line with what AB is claiming they promote—refused a drink because he was the designated driver? If AB is going to start protesting how their products are used in movies about hard-core drunks, then they should also start protesting movies about weekend and casual drunks. The party and hook-up culture is on full display in a vast majority of modern films yet nary a peep from AB over these. Why not? What about films like The Hangover or The Big Lebowski? Is comedic alcoholism more acceptable to AB than dramatic alcoholism? Perhaps, but it probably has much more to do with AB seeing an opportunity to sell even more beer.

Matt Patches, a film critic at, had this to say when asked if AB’s consternation over its brand might be nothing more than a publicity stunt: “As they say: all press is good press. We were not talking about Budweiser yesterday.” It would seem that Patches is on to something, especially in light of AB’s lack of concern over how its products are displayed elsewhere on the big screen. As P.T. Barnum was known to say: “I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” It seems to me that AB’s coy ploy is nothing less than an application of Barnum’s dictum. After all, paid advertising can only get you so far. Taking the opportunities of unpaid advertising when they arise is just good business.



26 thoughts on “Anheuser-Busch and Denzel's Drunken Flight

  1. They should have made a movie about liberal politicians drunk not with alcohol but with greed and power. A sure recipe for disaster proven time and again in history.


      • It will never happen while Holder or any other appointee of Obama is Attorney General. Too late...history will uncover the truth. Just as with the Hitler dynasty, Obama will destroy us as Hitler did his people....but, the people followed him, so what will be blamed? I would blame my own Party, for underestimating and failing to fully vet Obama in '08....regardless of RACE!

      • faux news contest to that.

      • The fact is that nobody cares that he's a muslim anti-American who hates capitalism and everything else that made this country great (past tense)

    • Now that would be a good movie. You could cast just about any idiot from hollywood. Let Morgan Freeman play Obama. Whoopi could be Michelle. Will Farrell could be Biden.

  2. You asked for it ! says:

    Denzel Washington is an excellent actor. It struck me that is also precisely what Barrack Hussein Soetero-Obama is. Watch him bounce on stage, drunk with power, flashing his famous grins & smiles that melts the hearts and thighs of all the liberal semi educated ladies, who are unable to think past the pheromones and their hormones. It is the same technique of an actor, sadly Obama knows nothing about economics nor the business of running a country - except into the ground in a forthcoming obvious crash. His Governmental qualifications are exactly the same as Denzil Washington's to fly a DC-9 Jetliner - precisely zero ! The ground is coming up fast ! You asked to be entertained, Denzil portrays a drunk pilot, Barrack Hussein a man drunk with power. Two great actors, for one the price of admission is a one shot ticket, and small - the other is to bleed for the rest of your life.

  3. I remember the opening scene in the movie "Lady in the Lake" (I think that was the title), starring Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome. Featured prominently was Frank holding a can of Bud while driving a boat.

  4. One thing I want to know first is, How much money did AB line Obama's pockets before they were thrown under the bus? AB has a lot of competition out there and we all have access to making our own brew if we feel creative and we can reuse their own bottles.
    All I can say is "It's Your Turn"

  5. Actually, AB's problem with it is that Denzel is an 'Open' Conservative. Were he a 'Dyed In The Wool' liberal, they would have no objections.


  7. I don't need to watch a movie to see the spiral that happens to an alcoholic. All I have to do is visit my brother. Alcohol ruined his marriage, made him lose his job and messed up his son. He refuses to get help and blames every one else. He's no longer the person I grew up with.

    • Your brother ruined his marriage not alcohol, your brother chose to drink to excess the alcohol did not make him do it. When are we going to hold people responsible for their actions instead of a man made product that 90% of the population does not abuse. Alcoholism is the alholics problem not the products.

      • Actually, alcoholism IS a disease because most people can drink alcohol and NOT become addicted.......(unlike cigarettes). It's been PROVEN medically and the gene that would cause a specific person to become addicted rather quickly. Ever notice how one person starts acting really drunk after only ONE drink? My dad is an alcoholic and one sister of mine gets absolutely drunk if she drinks one or two beers. Insane but true. She does not drink because of this and afraid of becoming addicted. Just like any addicting thing, once you start (and NO ONE expects to become 'addicted' when they first start drinking legally); it sometimes only takes some folks one time.

    • That is sad. My ex-wife ruined our marriage with her drinking.

  8. Don't need a movie, look around you.

  9. alcohol and whites go hand and hand lol

  10. "... but let’s face it, would a movie about alcoholism really pack the theaters?

    "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Lost Weekend" did.

  11. i Hait aklohosim baceasue itm akes mi speel wrung eveeri tyme i drunk boazee