Lately, I’ve been reading far too many articles about the dangers of drinking Four Loko, which many news outlets would have you believe is “Agent Orange” in a 24-ounce can. The problem is, everyone is viewing this debate from the wrong perspective. When referring to whether Stanford University should ban Four Loko, David Nelson, in a recent Daily column (“The Problem of Four Loko,” November 15), stated, “[t]he University should never take it upon itself to deny us any of the privileges of an adult in United States.” In that sentence, we see a stereotypical libertarian attitude fused with the rebellious nature of youth. In another statement, he writes, “[a]s its popularity has increased, Four Loko has been blamed for a growing number of unpleasant instances.”
David Nelson, along with many others, has completely missed the big picture. Four Loko is popular because of the attention it receives, not in spite of it. In other words, it became popular because of its negative media attention. Basically, Four Loko is the Kim Kardashian of alcoholic drinks. Think about it: The amount of media coverage this drink receives is completely disproportional to the number of students who consume the drink and the severity of the risk it poses; i.e., like Kardashian, it should not be as famous as it is.
If you think Kim Kardashian’s sex tape hurt her career, you’re either sadly mistaken or not watching it correctly. In the same manner that the sex tape made people want to see more of her, universities banning Four Loko make students want to drink it. The reasoning is simple: it is human nature to want to do what a parental figure does not want you to do. Writers like Nelson are mistaken to treat this like a political issue and start referencing their inherent rights as Americans. The Four Loko debate is a cultural and generational one. When Tipper Gore and Hillary Clinton launched their campaign against gangster rap, NWA laughed all the way to bank. Similarly, the more you talk about Four Loko, the more you make it cool. The key to an underground marketing campaign is creating a buzz and garnering media attention. Every anti-Four Loko story in The Daily or on CNN is the equivalent of a Four Loko advertisement by Don Draper. Ask the Catholic Church how its abstinence campaign worked out, or ask D.A.R.E. how many kids “passed on grass” as a result of its anti-drug campaign.
Yes, the drink is dangerous, but it is not as dangerous as people think. Finally, it’s not even the only drink of its kind. Spark and Sisco have similar effects, and don’t think 24 ounces of Red Bull and vodka is any safer than Four Loko. Again, Kim Kardashian was not the only rich heiress with a sex tape; she just played the media the right way. Don’t think Four Loko is not benefiting from the same type of attention. I will drink three Friday night; you should too! Don’t you want to be cool?
Drew Karimlou ‘11