A US-based brewing firm, New England Brewing Company mocks Mahatma Gandhi by selling its beer product with an image of Gandhiji. An online petition has been filed by Victoria Meaney from Damascus, Maryland. BH reproduces the contents with hope that its readers sign the petition asking the brewing company to take Mahatma Gandhi’s photo from the beer product.
BeyondHeadlines News Desk
I saw a news article that New England Brewing Company is marketing and selling beer by exploiting the legacy and image of Mahatma Gandhi. For those of you who do not know, Gandhi completely abstained from drinking alcohol. This would be like putting Martin Luther King Jr.’s face on a marketing campaign for guns. Please tell New England Brewing Company to stop selling this “Gandhi-bot” beer and come up with a more appropriate name for its product.
There has already been a lot of international criticism over this beer company’s gimmick. Unfortunately, the out of touch guy in charge over there said they stand by their offensive product and added a patronizing note. Their insincere and sarcastic response says they will “apologize if the good people of India find our Gandhi-Bot label offensive.”
Excuse me, it’s not just the “good people of India” who know this is deeply offensive and wrong, and it’s offensive to speak like that. It shows of touch they are on this issue. This is another instance of cultural appropriation and objectification of an “exotic” culture, turning one of the most influential civil rights leaders into sheets of metal, while simultaneously mocking his individual preference to abstain from consuming alcohol by creating the label for a beer. Further, the beer’s description as “an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love” continues to mock Gandhi’s principles, which is in very poor taste, as Gandhi’s work significantly influenced the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.
As a person of color, it concerns me that companies use aspects of my cultural identity for financial gain and turn individual preferences and cultural practices into things for U.S. society to turn into a joke. While this practice isn’t new to consumerism as a whole, I find it personally offensive that anyone’s personal preferences could so easily be mocked in the most intimate ways possible.
By having others sign this petition, not only will it create awareness around this particular incident, and hopefully prevent the New England Brewing Company from producing more of the beer under the name “Gandhi-bot,” but hopefully others will have a better understanding of cultural appropriation, both in its significance as a practice but also the level of offense it brings to countless communities of color in the U.S.
I don’t think the New England Brewing Company is filled with bad people. I just think they should fix outrageous oversight immediately and look forward to hearing confirmation that they will no longer exploit Gandhi or appropriate Indian culture.