Tessa Leung thought the artwork was empowering.
For the latest Grand Rounds Brewing Company release, Easy A Minnesota Blonde, the CEO wanted to brew up a little redemption for an oft-maligned group. "Blondes have long carried a certain stereotype, maybe you told a blonde joke or two. Easy A MN blonde is about to shatter that image," the Rochester brewpub posted on Facebook earlier this month, adding, "At Grand Rounds we know smart women stand proud on their own, blonde or not!"
Cool! All of that sounds good!
Except not everyone has found the brew -- or its accompanying artwork -- quite so inspiring. A billboard along Highway 52 advertising Easy A has drawn ire from locals who say it's actually demeaning to women.
"I'm sorry, I love you guys, but now is not the political climate to have billboards with this image on them in town," Katy Lee, a local pastor, commented on that Facebook post. "Not now, especially, and not ever."
Lee later told KIMT 3 that she finds the blonde's pose particularly problematic. "I just saw the image of this woman who looked like she was leaning back and sort of in a position of kind of weakness, um, with a man kissing her, and sort of all the #metoo words kind of stuck in my head and just made me feel like this was not right," Lee explained to the station last week.
It's hard to argue against the fact that craft beer has a sexism problem -- Slate and Food & Wine are among those who have done deep dives into the topic. The names often suck ("Raging Bitch," "Leg Spreader"), and the accompanying objectifying can art can be tasteless at best.
But Leung and co. say that's not what's happening here.
According to Leung, "Easy A" is a reference to the 2010 Emma Stone movie of the same name -- a modern retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter -- which is also where the can gets its red A. The pop art style, meanwhile, is meant to be reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein's prints. All three influences, Leung says, share a theme: that women are more than they seem.
"As a primarily female business team, we know the heavy task of breaking down walls and smashing glass ceilings, as well as the power of humor to keep our spirits high," the brewery explained in a subsequent Facebook comment, noting that the copy was written and approved by several women.
That's all well and good, critics say -- but it doesn't mean it's not offensive.
"Sometimes our intent and the result of our intent are two very different things," Lee told KIMT 3. "And I think that matters."
What do we think, folks? Harmless bit of Lichtensteinian, Emma Stone-loving fun? Objectifying art that doesn't belong on our highways?
There's only one thing that's for sure: Stanley Tucci is a goddamn American treasure.