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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Sussex teenager killed fighting in Syria

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit