High sugar treason - The Lowbrow Lowdown

One would think a $108m contract would be enough to instil loyalty in anybody, even a record industry ho like Britney Spears. Why, then, would she be guzzling Coke when she's under contract with Pepsi? asks Kate Kaye.

As featured in an October 29 PR Week US piece, Spears was photographed twice in October with Coca-Cola products -- in Australia it was Coke and in California it was Sunkist.

The official word from Pepsi is that it's no big thing. Still, an unnamed source interviewed for The Sun was quoted as saying, "You don't expect to sign someone to a deal that big and then see them drinking a competitor's brand twice in a month," according to PR Week US.

There's simply no reason why this chick should be cavorting with the fizzy foe. If Spears would rather be drinking Coke, she shouldn't have signed a deal with Pepsi. But, I guess we can't expect somebody who performs stripteases on national television and then claims to be a virgin to know much about integrity.

Whatever the truth may be, The Lowbrow Lowdown Lackeys are convinced that Spears is using Coke for purely medicinal purposes. They know that douching with Coke after sex is a reliable form of birth control. And as we all know, she's gotta do anything she can to maintain that virgin persona of hers.

Does This Tolstoy make me look fat?

Remember the good ol' days when a nerd with his nose in his book got it slammed in his face by some big, dumb jock? Those days are gone. Apparently it's cool to be a teenage bookworm now. According to a November 9 Wall Street Journal feature (Look Who's Reading, by Pooja Bhatia): "Bookstores across the country report jumps of 20% to 75% in young buyers over the past three years."

There are a number of contributing factors. Some call it "a backlash against MTV culture." Others chalk it up to a generation that's more patient and cultured. Unconventional book signings, like the one HarperCollins held at a topless bar for its book Etiquette for Outlaws, haven't hurt either.

The real reason could be disheartening. As noted by the WSJ story, "Many are making a fashion statement of sorts, carrying around tattered copies of 'in' books." For example, Garrett Kemps, a 23-year-old web designer who "rarely reads more than 40 pages of any one volume", admits, "In this day and age, it's much more important to appear like you know something than it is to actually know something."

In other words, it's all about image. But, perhaps more than image, it's about being a part of something. The majority of bestsellers become such for various reasons, many of which indicate a desire to bond with others: because the movie just came out and everyone's reading the book; because the author has appeared on every radio and television talk show, so everyone's discussing the book; because Oprah says it's good, and everyone wants to be like Oprah; the list goes on and on. Come to think of it, if this little exercise in page-flipping is all about gaining acceptance by others and looking cool, the young book buyers ought to skip the reading and go straight for the ultimate hip image enhancer for pseudo literati -- author caricature tattoos.

Rolling Rock of Gibraltar

If you'd rather get thicker round the middle than give up your traditional Sunday stout, or if you've ever toured a brewery and genuflected as you entered the fermentation room, you understand. You're religious about beer.

It's not a bad thing to be, either, unless you live in Utah. You see, just last month, according to a October 27 Economist story (Utah's Holy War), the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) decided that using religion in alcohol advertising is a sin...I mean, illegal. And it so happens that Utah's Wasatch Beers had begun promoting its new brew in just such an enlightened manner right around the same time that the UDABC put forth its latest commandment. The new beer: Polygamy Porter. The tagline: "Why have just one?" Yes, the suds sellers figured that "tapping into the local Mormon culture to promote its brew" would be a good idea.

Despite the coincidental timing of its ruling, the UDABC insists that it "was not aimed at Wasatch Beers". Of course, once the fuddy-duddies at the UDABC realised that the no-religion rule could harm sacramental and kosher wine advertisers, they scrapped it. As for Wasatch, the company decided against continuing the campaign, citing "bad taste" as the reason.

In the end, I'm just glad that the UDABC decided to renege on its no-religion ad rule. I mean, just think of the endless possibilities for customised religious brews:

For Jews Bris Bock -- Tagline: "Who needs circumcision precision?"

For Hindus Sacred Cow Stout -- Tagline: "Get third-eye bloodshot."

And for the Taliban Osama bin Lager -- Tagline (this is too obvious): "Get bombed."

That's not all. For additional commentary on these and other stories, visit The Lowbrow Lowdown.