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Hard Thinking About Beer

HARD THINKING ABOUT BEER poses a number of brilliant questions regarding how we perceive things and apply personal criteria to what often has little to do with is. Granted, the subject matter of the film (beer) appears obtuse on the surface but as we look past this surface value approach we understand that WHAT ABOUT BEER is really not about beer at all. Rather, the film is about expression of fact vs. personal opinion vs. the end result. That is, there are certain facts about the composition of stout beer vs. whether or not people like stout beer vs.

whether or not certain people will or will not purchase stout beer. Of course, this is all irrelevant in a certain way. After all, the makers of stout beer realize that certain consumers will never purchase it. In fact, the makers of the beer probably also produce a number of other brands so as to grab various market niches. While some in these niches may say they like or dislike stout beer others will say stout beer is “rotten”. Therein lays the point of HARD THINKING ABOUT BEER: stout beer is stout beer. It is neither good nor bad it simply is.

Of course, the question remains whether or not the film succeeds in making the viewer understand the point. To a certain extent it does succeed in the sense that it brings these pondering thoughts to the forefront. However, the film is so expositional in nature that it borders on preachy. However, the points that it makes are valid enough to make people think twice about the how they impose their preferences onto what should forever remain empirical. From this perspective, the film presents the notion that stout beer needs to follow certain criteria in order to be stout beer. One criterion is that the beer must be dark.

Now, some will say that dark beer is “no good” and, hence, stout beer is “no good”. This is a very illogical assumption because if stout beer wasn’t dark then it ceases to be stout beer. It may be “good” beer but it would cease to be stout. So, if the stout beer was a light beer it would really be an awful beer because it would be either a failed stout brand or simply another type of beer pawning itself off as stout beer. Convoluted? Well, it becomes convoluted when you impose personal preference (an ultimately abstract concept) into the realm of the inarguable definition of stout beer.

To do so would be an extreme misapplication and the root of a major logic flaw. This is the notion that HARD THINKING ABOUT BEER stresses and does so quite successfully. This success lies in the simplicity of the presentation which makes counterarguments difficult. The way the film succeeds in its themes is found in its approach. For example, in one sequence one character charges the character that is critical of stout beer of not so much about stout beer as he is talking about himself.

That is, he is not speaking about the facts surrounding what stout beer is as much he is defining his own personal dislikes into an evaluation of the merits of the beer. This character’s response is something to the effect that people should not listen to a notion because an authority figure says so. Such an assertion is, well, foolish. Stout beer is dark and it stays dark whether one is an authority figure or a village idiot. The composition of stout beer is never open to debate! Now, personal preferences can be open to debate but what would be the point of that?

How do you prove to someone that they should like a brand that they don’t like? Well, you can’t but the discussion is not about the brand as much as it is about the person. That is, the person projects their identity through their like or dislike of a particular brand. Hence, they do not so much defend the brand as much as they defend themselves. In a way, arguing about beer is little more than a “proxy war” of sorts. While the subject matter of HARD THINKING ABOUT BEER seems a little silly on the surface it only remains silly when you believe that its subject matter is about beer.

Of course, it is not just about beer it is about human nature, foibles and critical thinking applies to all facets of life in the same way biases and preferences apply to all facets of life. Through the strange examination of these notions in the film HARD THINKING ABOUT BEER these notions are fleshed a little more through a connection through a mundane product we see everyday. In a way, this brings about a deeper understanding of things through a vehicle of the mundane.

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