Sorted for textured alcoholic fruit gel-carb

'Alcopop' drinks should not make us fret about teenage boozing, but about marketing taking over the good night out

Share
Related Topics
You may have noticed there are some vile alcoholic drinks about. They look and taste disgusting and are consumed by strangely dressed types. Such beverages are sold primarily by the notion that they get you out of your head. They are named things like Headcracker, Sneck Lifter, Owd Growler, Original Sheepdip and GBH. Do they encourage alcoholism? Quite possibly, but as men drink them no one seems to mind. Do they make getting smashed seem cool and grown-up? Yes, if beards and beer bellies signify maturity.

No, what we like to get worked up about is another kind of alcohol altogether. The "alcopops", the soft options that disguise the hard drinking that young people, especially young women, get up to. It is all a cynical marketing campaign to turn the nation's youth into lushes. And here's another one. A tangerine hair gel disguised as something you want to knock back while you are dancing around your handbag. Or while you're desperately trying to pull those dancing around their handbags. Or you've given up all hope and want something for bladdered people rather than beautiful people. In other words - the words of the marketing reptiles - it should appeal to "the dance-floor element." A refreshing little "textured alcoholic fruit gel-carb" from Carlsberg-Tetley delicately called Thickhead. It's interesting in a Spacedust sort of way and is hyped as an essential feature of a fun night out. I think the essential feature of a fun night is being sick in bins at bus-stops, but I'm not in PR.

Actually no one could drink masses of this without gagging so the comparison with real ale holds up. Thickhead has done away with those dubious macho anxieties about the authenticity of booze. These new drinks are fizzy, fluorescent, infantile, saccharin-sweet and do a brilliant job of disguising the nasty taste of alcohol. While grown-ups may bore on about good wine,the sad truth is most of us would down a bottle of vinegar if it said Fleurie on the label and some hyperactive bint on TV said it reminded her of Chanel No 5. Indeed the much-maligned alcopops are unpretentious little numbers which just zap you with their artificiality. Just what you'd expect from such post-modern little potions.

They also come pre-packaged with a little post-modern moral panic about drinking and young people. Never mind the research which says that, as always, if teenagers want to get drunk, which they do, they spend their money on that which will get them drunk fastest - beer and cider. This new panic is imbued with the kind of memory lapses that one associates with progressive drinking. There have always been things like alcopops, but they were called shandy, lager-and-lime, cider-and-black.

It is not just lad culture in both its male and female incarnations that encourages excess. The gulf between new lad and old oaf was never as big and bold and bad as everybody liked to pretend. If it was, how come you could buy Oliver Reed T-shirts at the Great British Beer Festival?

The earnest worry about children being lured into "offies" to buy alcopops because honestly they just didn't realise that these drinks had alcohol in them is premised on denial - denial about the culture our kids grow up in, where every soft drink is sold as if it were a hallucinogen, in which imagery, graphic design, video have been under the influence of rave culture for a good few years now; denial about statistics that show that legal and illegal drugs are simply part of everyday experience for the majority of young people. This is not the same as saying that all young people take drugs and drink, but some of them do some of the time. Just like the rest of us. Some lives will be wrecked because of it and some will be enhanced because of it. Among 11-to-15-year-olds, 17 per cent, drink regularly and the majority do not have much disposable income. They are not the "repertoire drinkers" of club 18-30.

The logical conclusion of niche marketing is that new consumer groups have to be aggressively sought out. Drug dealers do it relatively openly; the drinks industry has taken to spiking lemonade in order to achieve its ends. Which is the more hypocritical?

What is most objectionable about these new products is that they no longer exist outside of the marketing loop. The line between product and packaging is blurred. The package, the trends, the inane definitions are conceived and a product invented to fit the bill. Portfolio products for portfolio times matching our taste for portfolio politics.

So don't worry your hungover heads about little girls drinking puke-flavoured Flavours for Ravers but ask yourself what happens when beliefs are replaced by "conceptual currents", when a good night out depends on a selection of chemicals "specifically styled to match the radically revised cultural concerns of pre-millennial youth culture". It's enough to make you yearn for the good old days when Jarvis's melancholy little refrain "Sorted for Es and whizz" sounded just like the real thing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test