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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Art to the Editor

No, this is not a real advertisement. Cuervo, by Justin Hughes, is a digitally-altered commercial image that carries with it a pun on corporate marketing and uninformed consumerism. And while it is somewhat humorous, it also carries with it a serious message: drinking alcohol isn’t always as glamorous or as fun as the (real) advertising makes it seem.

Hughes’s graphic design is a social commentary on the darker side of alcohol consumption. It depicts a young man (the artist himself,) keeled over on a toilet, with his head between his knees, presumably after a night of hard drinking. The bold, in-your-face text instructs the viewer to “Live. Laugh. Vomit. Regret Later.”

As disturbing as it may seem, this image along with its matter-of-fact headline accurately and poignantly depicts the aftermath of irresponsible drinking in the macabre, dead-pan manner similar to Ad busters Magazine or the anti-tobacco “Truth” ad-campaign. The Jose Cuervo Tequila Company would -for obvious reasons- never run such an ad, although it probably should. Each year there are incalculable crimes, injuries and deaths that could have been prevented if alcohol wasn’t a contributing factor.

The real Jose Cuervo ad would show a bunch of happy, young people drinking, laughing, and having a good time, oblivious to the downsides of drinking: the vomiting, the hangover, and in the most extreme cases, alcohol poisoning. Absent from their ad is the lonely alcoholic drinking in some seedy dive. So too is the underage drinker, locked in the bathroom, praying to the porcelain God.

Last year, Hughes submitted Cuervo to The Watermark, UMass Boston’s annual arts journal. Despite a juried decision to include the artwork, Cuervo was censored from the publication due to the artwork’s explicitly graphic nature and out of fear of “copyright infringement.” The editors at The Watermark were obviously not aware of appropriation being an accepted form of art-making, and were too afraid to publish art with a bite.