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Hornitos Tequila: Using Rape to Sell You Their Liquor

May 9, 2011

Last night I was catching Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when I caught this:

In case you don’t have the time, or don’t care to watch this disgusting rapist propaganda, let me give you the run down.  Dude walks into an apartment with a ladyfriend who gently states “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Mike.” Dude shakes his head innocently as she walks away to go procure some Hornitos™ Brand Premium Tequila for herself and the dude. Dude’s phone starts to go off and he hurriedly answers it to reveal his identical twin brother at an airport who asks, “Dave, did you tell April I wasn’t going to make it?” to which his imposter replies “I gotcha covered bro,” as April clangs two shot glasses together while holding a bottle of Hornitos™ Brand Premium Tequil and a “come hither” expression.  The real Mike hears his girlfriend start to laugh on the other end of the phone as the the viewer is left to assume that Dave is going to have hot nonconsensual uninformed sex with April.  Hornitos™ Brand Premium Tequila than closes the commercial out saying, “Hornitos™ Premium Tequila: Purer than your intentions.”

Wow, right? First, let’s establish what it is we’re watching here. This is a commercial in which a woman is raped. The female character is having sex with somebody that is assuming a false identity, negating the informed part of “informed consent.” She thought she was having sex with Mike, not Mike’s creepy rapist brother Dave. That is rape, plain and simple.

I think this ad highlights something disturbing about the ubiquity of rape culture in our society. I’m totally blown away that this ad spot actually made it through the chain of command. Somehow this went from brain, to pen, to paper, and then from one execs desk to another, to filming and production, editing, and finally to air without anybody along the way stopping to say, “Hey, waitasecond. Isn’t this–” and then cutting this thing off before it got on air as a nationwide ad campaign.

And what’s up with the last line? “Purer than your intentions.” They wouldn’t say that if they thought what the dude was doing was okay, right? So, doesn’t that suggest that they knew something wrong was occurring in the ad but than ran it anyway? This makes it even more shocking that nobody stopped this ad in its tracks. “Hey guys, you know the creepy, sleezy, ‘unpure’ thing about this that we’re explicitly referring to at the end of this ad? Does anybody think that thing might be rape?”

“Hornitos Premium Tequlia: Purer than rape.” Wow, don’t set the bar too high for yourselves guys, lest you trip over the boners you apparently have for your identical twins’ girlfriends.

What’s even more disturbing is the likelihood that the guys that made this commercial knew they what they were doing and didn’t care. “Fuck it! Run it. We’re not hear to please a bunch of nagging Feminazis. We’re here to make a profit, dammit!”

Maybe the guys from the Yale chapter of Delta Kappa Epslion who infamously marched through campus chanting “No means Yes! Yes means anal!” graduated and became ad men. Or the guys that made the discontinued ad for Burger King’s “Super Seven Incher” all got new jobs for Hornitos to continue their careers as propagandists for violence against women.

While searching for the YouTube clip above I stumbled across an outstanding post about the commercial at the blog Not That Kind of Girl. The blogger wrote a letter to Hornitos. I’m going to write one myself and I’d encourage others to let them know what you think. Tell them that you don’t think that rape is funny and you want them to stop using it to sell their product!

  • http://notthatkindofgirl.net Kat (aka That Kind of Girl)

    I love every single word of this post. Doesn’t it blow your mind to know that we live in a world where not only can an ad like this get approved for national distribution, but where people will actually defend it?! It seems awfully backwards that rape culture is so pervasive that you have to explicitly tell someone, “Dude, thank you for not liking rape.” But, dude, thank you. For not liking rape. (And for speaking out about it so articulately and charmingly.)

    • http://www.seac.org Aaron PK

      Thanks so much for the kindness and the encouragement. I thought your post and especially your letter were absolutely brilliant!

      Ugh, this ad has been making me think a lot about how pervasive this attitude and culture are. However, maybe it’s struck a chord too? More people are posting about it, and it seems that tons of people (outside of the outright feminist crowd) are responding in kind.

      What I would like to get out in this post, but couldn’t (mostly because of time, I was writing this post on the company dime, haha), is some sort of point to spark discussion about how feminists should respond to this. This kind of advertising is more a product of deeper rooted problems with gender and social relations in our society, not the problem themselves, right? So do we attack the ad? We should critique it obviously, but than what? Thinking about this ad and writing about it got my head spinning around these questions, and its been on my mind endlessly.

  • http://ami-rants.blogspot.com Ami Angelwings

    Excellent post :D This commercial has been pissing me off so much and I’m glad to find that I’m not the only one :) It seems like so many ppl are just dismissing this as “oh she consented” or “oh she’s getting sex who cares!” or “well then i can’t lie about being rich to get a girl” or some other victim blaming BS or derail -_-;; It’s so refreshing to read somebody who gets it!

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2010/12/23/scoc-appeal-twins-sex-assault.html

    Even the Canadian courts know this is rape -_-;;

    I can’t believe somebody ran this ad, but then I can believe it b/c we get so much of this in ads and tv, where rape is so distant to the ppl making these ads (apparently) that while they know it’s bad, it’s kinda bad in the idea that being killed with a lightsabre is bad.. it’s almost like a myth to them and so it’s easy to joke about -_-;;

    Ugh.

  • esreveR

    OMG. Overreaction much? Your looking waaaaaay to far into the meaning of the commercial. Its just a commercial based upon a fictional situation. Its actually kinda funny too. The commercial, not how far you looked into it to find a meaning that isn’t even there.

    Rape is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. There is not forcing here. The girl in the commercial knows how the night is going to end.

    Wikipedia defins rape as:
    “Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent”

    Dictionary defins rape as:
    –noun
    1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
    2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

    Looking thru the internet I do see a few cases where this has happened. The twin was not charged with rape because by definition it is not rape.

    It is tho a physical assault.

    • esreveR

      1000′s of people go out each night to bars and other places, meet total strangers that usually lie to become someone they aren’t in hopes that will make them even more attractive so they can take the person home and hookup.

    • http://www.seac.org Aaron PK

      Marital rape wasn’t considered illegal in the all of the United States until 1993, stating with South Dakota in 1975, (It was argued that marriage implied consent to sexual intercourse at any time), so I don’t look toward legal definitions to inform my opinions of what is rape or not.

      However, going off the Wikipedia definition you provided, this is rape. The woman in the commercial didn’t consent to have sex with this person, she consented to having sex with that person’s brother. She only had sex (we are led to assume) with this guy because he assumed a false identity as her boyfriend. One can’t consider this consensual if the person consenting isn’t given proper information. This is the same logic behind the lack of consent given in cases of date rape (e.g., when a person puts rohypnol into a persons drink) and statutory rape.

      If you think I’m overreacting just consider the consequences of this kind of “kinda funny” commercial. Imagine how ashamed and torn apart the woman in the commercial will feel once she (inevitably) finds out that her boyfriends fucked up brother had his dick inside her without her knowing. And how badly she’ll blame herself. How unenjoyable sex will be for her for months, years even, because it will inevitably remind her of the sheer violation of her body by her own boyfriends brother. This is the kind of thing that will emotionally scar somebody likely for her entire life. This isn’t “kinda funny.” It’s sadistic. Especially because it’s entirely plausible.

      I think its important to read these sorts of things closely precisely because of the sheer violence of what is happening here is being manipulated in order to depict it as a harmless goof, or act of “Brotherly Love.” So if you want to see where it stops being “kinda funny” just imagine what happens 12 hours after the commercial ends when she finds out that it wasn’t her boyfriend that slept with her. These media depictions of sex and sexuality frame how people think and act toward these sort of things. The more it gets represented and depicted in society the more desensitized and banal it becomes because of its ubiquity.

      In other words, Hornitos is watering down the severity of rape in order to get you to give them money for their mediocre tequila, essentially.

      • esreveR

        Before I start here… Would everyone here be so up in arms about this commercial IF the roles were reversed? What if the twin brothers were twin sisters and the girlfriend was a boyfriend. Same situation, swap the genders. Then it would have been just another commercial selling alcohol. I doupt the editor would have even posted this article.

        Marital rape? When did I mention anything about that? Boiled down the meaning of rape is non-consentual sex with another. Woman OR man. Whoever tried to argue that forcing someone to have sex with you when you are married is legal is, well what I would say about that probally would not get this post approved.

        Going off the Wikipedia definition… You say that it IS because she thinks that the twin is her boyfriend and not the brother and that is why she is willing to sleep with him. She thinks he is her boyfriend. IMHO The girl in the commercial knew exactly what she was doing even if she did not know exactly who she was doing. It is not “rape” and here is just one example of why.

        Millions of people (men and women) go out for entertainment every night. Lets take ONE example of this. (Based on true events. No it is not me. I see this type of activity degrading to one’s self.) Unemployed guy in his mid 20′s living at home with parents. They go on vacation. Guy decides to go out bar hopping. Meets girl while out bar hopping. As they start talking she asks what he does for a living. Unemployed guy replies that he is a pilot (actually his father is) so he does not loose her interest. She replies she has never met a piolt before. Guy seeing his in starts passing off his dads pilot stories off as his own. Long story short she goes home with him and sleeps with him under the impression he is a pilot. Next morning parents come home early. Girl finds out his is not a pilot. Girl storms out and never contacts guy again. Exact situation as the commercial. Situations like the above happen all the time for both men AND women.. The example used the bar and club scene. Look around you next time you are out at the movies, market, sporting

        Sence we are talking about the what ifs and assumptions. (this is a commercial.) None of us know what kinda personality the girl has or how she would handle it… I doupt it will have a long lasting effect on her. The guy and girl oviously are coming back from a night out on the town. That would suggest they usually go to bars and/or night clubs. If that was the case they prob met at one. Which means they both have prob hooked up in bar or nightclubs with people that sometimes lie to make themseves out to be someone else for the chance to get lucky.

        You say that you read these sorts of things and you are doing it to closely and precisely because of the sheer violence of what is happening. What are your using to compair against that you can so precisely pick out the true meaning and purpose of this commercial?

    • http://ami-rants.blogspot.com Ami Angelwings

      Besides that wikipedia actually doesn’t agree with you… the Supreme Court of Canada as well as courts and law in the US disagree with you as well. To put another way (and I’m fully aware that as a hypothetical you might claim it wouldn’t affect you at all, like some ppl claim that they would laugh off real torture) if you were to sleep with somebody who was HIV+ and didn’t disclose, and you found out… even if you were lucky enough to not get it in the end, how would you feel? Amused? Laughing? Or if you were to sleep with somebody with the lights off, and somebody else replaced them and raped you? Or if you were with somebody and consented to sex with them and then they started to bite you really hard, or use a dildo on you when you didn’t want to? the idea of “you know how this night will end” suggests you believe that consent to sex = consent to ALL sex, or with anybody.

      As has been said earlier here, this actually DOES happen, people do NOT laugh it off, they are just as traumatized by it as any other rape AND these situations not only happen in real life, they are ILLEGAL. That’s not to say you can’t find it funny if it happens to YOU, just like you can find it funny if somebody breaks your knee cap, but it doesn’t mean it’s not an illegal act and one that causes serious pain for other people.

      (oh and by the way, the reason the twin in some cases was charged with sexual assault is because under many jurisdictions, there is no more legal category of “rape” but sexual assault encompasses all (from wiki: In some jurisdictions, the term “rape” has been phased out of legal use in favor of terms such as “sexual assault” or “criminal sexual conduct”.[14]) also that in others, legal rape is narrow and sexual assault covers many crimes that are still rapes (in some jurisdictions you can’t anally rape someone for instance)… sexual assault does not automatically = not as bad as rape… many rapes are in some areas defined legally as sexual assault :) just to clear up what you were reading and confused about :) besides, a legal distinction has nothing to do with whether it’s “funny”… victims of sexual assault, oral and anal rape and date rape are as much survivors as vaginal rape victims attacked by a stranger… none of that is funny :( )

      • esreveR

        Ugh. this can go on and on and on. After this I am just agreeing to disagree and will not reply again. Everyone is getting too hypothetical and looking waaaaay to far into this for me.

        This happens all the time. People make themselves out to be something or someone they are not in many places and situations. Resumes, interviews etc etc..

        I’m not saying it is right. I am not saying it is wrong. I am saying it is not rape. If it was a girl doing it to a guy, nothing would be said imho.

        It doesnt actually disagree with me either and I see the same court cases on google as you do. Everyone is different. No 2 people handle the same situation the same way nor do they interpret things the same way. I doupt anyone could not yell out thru all types of torture. It just ignorant.

        The examples you use are full of tragic what ifs. To HIV+: I don’t sleep with strangers unprotected. Me and my girlfriend got fully tested before we went w/o a condom. If I did sleep with someone that was HIV+ while protected and found out later. I would call the cops. That is defined by the courts as assault…. Somebody with the lights off: This would be rape. unconsentual sex. Biting is kinda kinky and a few of my friends practice role reversal all the time when having sex.

        Supreme Court of Canada and the US don’t say that the above situation is rape. The cases I beleive you are refering to are the ones where the twin appealed the ruling of sexual assult all the way up the the highest court. In all the cases the Supreme Court either refused to hear the case or did not side with the twin.

        Both the United states and Canada currently have laws that clearly define what rape is. Their definition may not fit what everyone thinks is “rape” but a definition of rape that everyone is happy with will never happen. I also went further then just using google to look up court cases to fit my needs (as it seems you did) I actually used the freedom of information act to pull court case info. It is public record. There is even a case where a twin was convicted of sexual assault because he made himself out to be someoen else. when he got out or prison he then assaulted another girl and was put back in prison for the charge of rape.

        Again, everyone is looking too far into this commercial and making something of nothing. (Not to suggest that rape is nothing)

        Enjoy the topic. I am done.

      • http:stars-and-garters.blogspot.com notintheface

        If I had been “Mike” (real McCoy twin) in that ad, then I’d have to fight the urge to make “Dave” my LATE twin brother.

    • http://peecharrific.tumblr.com peech

      Rape is NOT always “forcible” rape.

      An easy way to understand is: If there’s not a yes, it’s not sex. It’s rape.

      This commercial illustrates rape and needs to be taken off the air. Period.

  • joe

    The movie was directed by David Cronenburg, called “Dead Ringers” with Jeremy Irons starring as his own twin. Based off of the novel “Twins” (later also “Dead Ringers”) by Bari Wood.

  • Adrienne

    So… I tried to email this to the Hornitos company and it’s getting sent back to me. I’ll print it out anyway and email it to a physical address. But… I found your blog post after having seen the video. If you wouldn’t mind- I’m pasting my email to company below. Thanks for writing this. And thanks for posting the link to “Not That Kind of Girl.” It does help to know that other people understand.

    “I know that whoever reads this will probably not be the people responsible for the Brotherly Love Advertisement. I know that whoever reads this (if anyone) will have little power to change it. And yet, I still feel inclined to write. Maybe so whoever does read this will think about how I felt when I saw this advertisement while trying to watch a video on YouTube.

    I was drugged once. I regained consciousness after a seven hour blackout to find that someone had had sex with me. The clues were a little too obvious to ignore. The sheriff told me that I shouldn’t have been so available, and even if I got a rape kit- he wouldn’t look at it. Some friends told me that it wasn’t a big deal… I’d had sex before… I wasn’t too hurt… I’d be fine! And yet- knowing that I’d had sex with someone who I hadn’t talked with about STDs… who I hadn’t consented to have sex with… who I probably didn’t know… left me scared. Damaged. Changed.

    I’ve had three STD rounds of testing since then. I know he didn’t use a condom. And now I feel ethically obligated to warn any future sex partners that I don’t really know my sexual history. And I could be putting them at risk for an STD. Did you think of that when you made your oh so hilarious ad? Just because one brother is safe doesn’t mean the other one is. Just because she’s consented to have sex with one brother doesn’t mean she’s consented to have sex with his twin. And it’s disgusting that you think this is 1) amusing 2) a good way to promote a product.

    And screw you if you pretend that I’m taking this too seriously because “it wasn’t real… it’s just an ad!” We live in a society that still passes women around like sex objects. We live in a society where a bro gets cred for being such a stud. You brought me to tears again tonight. You brought back all of that shame and fear from two years ago. It wasn’t just what he did to me. It’s what society did as well. It’s what you continue to do.”

  • http://ami-rants.blogspot.com Ami Angelwings

    @mr. flouncypants (since somehow I suspect he’s not rly “done” xD): um… you basically agreed with me (that or you didn’t read what I wrote) and you derailed all over the place. You started with “this is hilarious” then it became “legally it’s assault not rape” and now you’ve gotten to “IF THIS WAS ME I WOULD BE FINE WITH IT STOP TELLING PPL WHAT THEY SHOULD FEEL” PLUS “legally it’s not rape” which… is what I said, that it’s ILLEGAL and considered sexual assault. (read the articles on the ruling btw. He lost his appeal, which means YEAH.. the supreme court believes that was sexual assault/rape)

    I’m unsure about your point? Life sucks, suck it up? o_O

    Why do you assume that ppl here would feel differently if the genders were reversed? (if you bothered to read my post you’d have seen I mentioned men a lot and that women can rape men, but then) Rape is rape. Period -_-;;

    “this happens all the time’ is… also odd… rape DOES happen all the time… why does that make it OKAY? it doesn’t happen cuz of a force of nature. TORNADOES happen all the time. RAPE IS COMMITTED BY THINKING PEOPLE.

    but then I’m unsure what your point is since you seem to agree with us that this is rape (sexual assault/assault/etc if you want to get legal about it, are we in court now? o_O )

    At least that’s the best I can find from your comment cuz it was jumping all over the place and you didn’t actually make a point o_O

    Enjoy the flounce xD (apologies to you Aaron btw if I’m overstepping :( )

  • Mohammad

    wow, i couldn’t believe this commercial. just to be clear, though, assuming a false identity to seduce a woman is not rape in any jurisdiction (e.g. telling a girl you’re an astronaut even though you’re not), although most jurisdictions have an exception to that rule for impersonating a husband.

    • http://peecharrific.tumblr.com peech

      Then why was Jared Rohrig arrested for impersonating his twin brother to rape a woman?

    • Krissy

      Some states already recongnize that this exact scenario is rape. And as for Jared rohrig – I have yet to reAd a news story that doesn’t classify what he did as rape. The majority of the country considers this rape regardless of what the law says. It was still legal to rape your wife in some parts of the US up to 1993. You can’t say this isn’t rape, the best you could do is to say “this type of rape is still legal in most of the US.” and I would be surprised if the Jared rohrig case doesn’t lend a hand in making this type of rape illegal too.

  • AJ Drachen

    Seriously? People like you advocate for the end of prison systems and release all the rapists “who just deserve a second chance!” and then complain when a commercial MAY imply rape? Even if it does, its not real. This is why political correctness is insanity, it pushes an oppressive attitude towards anyone who thinks differently from “open-minded”. Education is the answer, not banning everything bad from sight.

  • Krisdmeanor25

    The bottom line is that legally this is rape. And no…it is not the same as pretending to be an astronaut and then getting laid. This man is pretending to be someone she knows in order to have sex with her. He is taking on the identity of someone else…an actual person. So there is no slippery slope as so many who defended this commercial imply. If you successfully impersonate snoop dogg and show up at his girlfriends house and successfully nail her because she thinks youre snoop – that is rape. If you tell a girl you have a million in the bank to nail her that is pathetic and morally reprehensible but not illegal. I just do not understand why people are advocating for this commercial. It makes sense for people to lobby against it seeing as most of the people that are, have been raped themselves but what is the excuse for defending such a heinous and insensitive commercial….are you all rapists? do you work for the company? Do you have no life? I don’t understand. I did not elect to veiw this commercial – this is a national ad campaign and seeing rape paraded through my living room without anyway to stop it is really upsetting to me. This commercial is a trigger for me as a rape survivor so I feel the need to attack it. Why do some people feel the need to sling insults and defend this company’s insensitive and harmful commercial to a bunch of rape survivors?

  • Cherie

    I think the commercial is funny- If this was in a movie like the Hangover or some other comedy people would think it was hilarious.

    • Krissy

      But this isn’t a rated r movie and no one elected to be offended and we can’t just walk out of our houses like we would a movie that we don’t want to see. This commercial is on Hulu plus so you can’t just change the channel, and it is a terrible message to send. It is even on during the day so they are reaching even the youngest viewers and showing them that tricking a woman into bed is not just okay but funny. I have a great sense of humor but if you are laughing at this then you are definitely part of the problem.

  • joe

    Get over it! It’s a commercial! Life goes on and it will most likely stop airing after superbowl n e way. Chill out smoke a cigg and have a few shots of hornitos ;D

    • Krissy

      Actually, the company pulled the ad and apologized months ago.

      • http://shegetzguevara.wordpress.com Aaron Ptkf

        Krissy, do you have a link to info about that?