The texts and chats began trickling in yesterday morning: “… Are you watching this?” Of course I was watching the Kavanaugh hearings, as were many of us who have the luxury (sometimes curse) of having TVs or online news streaming at our offices. Somewhere around noon, several of those chats turned to: “Is it too early for a drink?” It’s gallows humor, a coping mechanism—especially among my women friends—but one D.C. bar thought hey, we can probably capitalize on this. Thus, it tweeted: “Open at 10 a.m. for the hearing. Bar service starts at 11 a.m. with bottomless mimosas.”
The bar has since apologized, calling the promotion “an oversight.”
I’m not here to excoriate this bar; bottomless mimosas are hardly the worst thing that happened yesterday. (Around 2 p.m., I myself thought about pouring myself a mimosa or 12.)
But the bar’s promotion is one exhibit in a disappointingly long parade of brands and businesses who think it’s wise to use “the news of the day” to promote themselves. Yesterday, I saw a few beer blogs I follow riff on Kavanaugh’s uh, fondness for the beverage. Given that the reason he was questioned about his drinking habits is because they may have been a factor in his alleged sexual assault of a woman, I just don’t see this as fodder for jokes on beer-Twitter.
Call me sensitive, but I’d like to clarify that I am not offended by these jokes or promotions. Instead, I’m exhausted by them, and disappointed. The Kavanaugh news was everywhere yesterday, inescapable. That’s difficult for a lot of people, especially victims of sexual assault and trauma. To see that even restaurants, bars, or beer blogs need to riff on the news for self-promotional reasons adds to the crush of news, takes, memes, and jokes from which some of us really needed a small respite.
When brands use serious political or social news to further their own image, they’re capitalizing on someone else’s discomfort or pain. Why might someone find the Kavanaugh-mimosa deal funny? Because the hearings are difficult, ergo we need to drink, right? That’s a bottomless drinks promotion founded on the emotional anguish many feel while watching cable news breathlessly tear apart a sexual-assault case.
It’s not a good look; it’s not especially funny, either. Just because a certain news story is everywhere on TV and social media doesn’t mean a restaurant or bar needs to address it—especially if it’s in a way that’s self-serving. Why not provide warm hospitality and a break from the crapstorm outside your business’ walls? That’s in direly short supply.