That Ain't Right

Dan Petegorsky

Last week brought us two starkly contrasting moments in the politics of sports. One was a proud testimony to the way in which athletic prowess can become a platform for moral prowess as well; the other was a sad display of how advertising can distort athletic prowess in a show of moral turpitude, reinforcing bigotry and prejudice as a marketing ploy.

The bigoted ad campaign was a set of images that Weiden + Kennedy used to pimp Nike sneakers. They were just the latest in a long series of ads using gays as targets to sell sports products, candy, etc. Of course, the continued stereotyping and humiliation of homosexuals for laughs or profit is hardly news.

More newsworthy was what took place at this year’s ESPYs: the presentation of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to two remarkable world class athletes and equally remarkable human beings, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. For those who weren’t around then, at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City Smith and Carlos provided the world with one of the iconic images of that epoch. In their stocking feet to symbolize the poverty in which so many black Americans still lived, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists as the American flag rose to mark their respective Gold and Bronze medals in the men’s 200 meters.

Smith and Carlos were widely vilified at the time. They were immediately banned from the Olympic Village by IOC President Avery Brundage and suspended from the U.S. team. The backlash followed Smith and Carlos back to the U.S., and affected their families as well – including Tommie’s brother Ernie, who at the time was a track and football star in his own right here at OSU.

Earlier this month, while in Eugene for the US Olympic Trials, John Carlos spent time with Olympic volunteer Mariotta Gary Smith – daughter of Ernie Smith and our own Sharon Gary Smith, and granddaughter of Bobbi Gary. Tommie himself had joined Sharon just weeks before in Atlanta to see Mariotta receive her Masters in Public Health from Emory.

Knowing Sharon and Mariotta – and how they have devoted their own lives to fighting and righting injustice – the ESPYs were a poignant moment for me. It’s a sign of hope and change that athletes who were so attacked for their courage were finally given the recognition they deserved – especially as all eyes turn towards Beijing and Chinese suppression of Tibetan and other protests in preparation for the Olympics.

It’s also profoundly sad to see two local companies not standing up with courageous athletes like Smith and Carlos, but perpetuating bigotry and indignity. That ain’t right.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    What makes the ousting of Smith and Carlos from the 1968 Olympics truly outrageous is that it came just days after the Tlatelolco Massacre which was soundly ignored by the same MSM who took such delight in airing their outrage at the protest of Smith and Carlos.

    BTW, kudos to the ESPY for finally giving some measure of recognition to Smith and Carlos.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    It’s also profoundly sad to see two local companies not standing up with courageous athletes like Smith and Carlos, but perpetuating bigotry and indignity. That ain’t right.

    The business of America is business, and the mission of corporations is to make as much in profits as possible, not to teach ethics and morality. A few do have sufficiently high standards to set a commendable example, but they appear to be in a small minority. Of more concern than a few hundred or a few thousand ethically and morally indifferent corporate executives are the legions of people who don't care either and are enablers of these corporate practices. It ain't right, but that's the way it is.

  • (Show?)
    "Of course, the continued stereotyping and humiliation of homosexuals for laughs or profit is hardly news.

    Laughs aren't the only media abuse casually tossed at the gay community. I just returned from watching the X-Files sequel. It hauls out the predictably dull "gay villain" cliche, in a failed effort at creepiness during a mangled plot which braids priests, pedophilia, bodypart-snatching, anti-gay exploitation, limp writing, flat characters, unsupported motivations, silly continuity problems, and thoroughly phoned-in performances into a boring too-long mess.

    Which reiterates Bill's point: Weiden+Kennedy, 20th Century Fox (the studio which made this mess), and plenty of others in the "liberal" media biz will fag-bash freely if they think it'll cadge 'em a buck with a market they're targeting.

    The sick second-level analysis is that the metrosexual hipsterati will happily give such fag-bashing a critical free-ride, because hey, it's all just a subtle cultural comment, and all the cool kids are in on it, so who cares, right? Just like Barack and Michelle on The New Yorker cover. So, if the hicks out there in most of America don't get the joke, and get their urge to kill fags reinforced instead ... well, business is war and who care about collateral damage anyhow, right?

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Nike's goal is to sell shoes.

    By any means possible.

    Do you really need some crappy plastic attached to your feet?

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    OK, let me see if I've got this right: The Nike ads quote lines from a song that some gays find offensive; therefore the ads (although they themselves contain no anti-gay content) are offensive. Isn't this quite a stretch? It's like saying that an ad that quotes from Huckleberry Finn is offensive because the book contains the n----- word, or one that quotes from Moby Dick is offensive because the characters in the book exhibit an environmentally irresponsible attitude toward whales.

  • What heroes! (unverified)
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    Oh yeah what heroes those guys were. What patriots. What great examples for our kids. To represent our country at the Olympics and use their moment for their self-indulgent 1960's political agenda - yeah real heroes.

  • (Show?)

    The Nike ads quote lines from a song that some gays find offensive; therefore the ads (although they themselves contain no anti-gay content) are offensive.

    You should do your research before making comments. As the links detailed, the content of the ads was offensive. And as for "some gays" finding the lyrics to "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down" offensive - I guess readers can make their own judgments, but in my book if you don't find those offensive then you ain't right.

  • B (unverified)
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    I don't know the history of the line quoted, but as an avid basketball watcher, I can tell you that there is broad consensus in the sports media world that one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a player is to have another player dunk over him by jumping straight over him, hence, the crotch in the face. While you may be able to read the ad as homophobic, because well, there is a lot of homophobia to still be on the lookout for, I believe in this ad that Nike was simply playing off the sports world's fascination with slam dunks that actually embarrass the defending player. Here is one prominent example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ozb-h1Kj5es. It's all part of the phenomenon that is known as "posterizing" or "youtubing" somoeone, that is, making a play that makes someone look so outmatched that it becomes a viral hit on the internet.

  • (Show?)
    B wrote: "...there is broad consensus in the sports media world that one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a player is to have another player dunk over him by jumping straight over him, hence, the crotch in the face.

    So you think the homophobic innuendo that "you ain't right" if one man has his crotch in another man's face has absolutely nothing to do with this, and never crossed Weiden+Kenny's mind?

    Uh, right.

    Wanna buy a condo in Vegas?

  • (Show?)

    I don't think that Nike meant any homophobia by their ads, Dan. I think that one might be a case of over thinking it. The ads just seem like what ball players are thinking when the get dunked on and are met with a face full of someone else's junk. Being dunked on is not even close to sexual and it's usually a little bit jarring. If I got slapped by another woman's breast playing volleyball, I never said, yay, I got hit by a boob!" I usually said, "Ugh, annoying, I just got slapped by a boob." Not because I don't love girls, but I don't love being smacked by someone else's junk.

  • (Show?)
    Dartagnan wrote: "OK, let me see if I've got this right: The Nike ads quote lines from a song that some gays find offensive; therefore the ads (although they themselves contain no anti-gay content) are offensive. Isn't this quite a stretch?"

    To quote the lyrics:

    "Though I can freak, fly, floow, fuck up a faggot. Dont understand their ways I aint down with gays."

    Yeah, Dartagnan. Believe it or not, "some gays" and maybe even some straight people find lyrics broadcasting that it's cool to "fuck up a faggot" offensive. So when I learn Phil Knight and Company out in Beaverton are pimpin' their author's career, and thereby his ability to promote gay-bashing, it definitely impacts what I think of Nike.

  • (Show?)
    "I don't think that Nike meant any homophobia by their ads, Dan. I think that one might be a case of over thinking it."

    Karol, were people who "got the joke" on the recent New Yorker cover just over-thinking it too?

  • (Show?)

    Leo, one has nothing to do with the other. Second, I wasn't offended by the New Yorker cover. I might be the only Black person on Earth who wasn't, but I thought it on the money.

  • (Show?)

    Karol, Leo:

    I can totally respect that different folks will/won't find certain images offensive/provocative/funny. In this case it was more important to me that BRO (in the Nike case) and HRC (in the Snickers case, though that one left no room for doubt) did find them over the line, and worked on behalf of their constituents to get ads pulled.

    I'd also urge us to avoid the "intentional fallacy." An image, phrase, etc. need not have been intended to be harmful or hateful to be so, right?

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Read whatever into it that you like, but, could someone explain to me what Nike could possibly have hoped to gain knowingly crossing that "gay" line out in the marketplace? Nike meeting: Guys, love the new ad, that oughta diss those fags. W&K: Thanks, maybe we can also cross the "Race" line too? No additional charge! Phil: This will definitely sell more shoes....

  • Sharon (unverified)
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    Thank you, Dan, for juxtaposing the beauty of the ESPY's celebration of a proud sporting moment in history, however belated, against the too common use of athletics and athletes to stereotype and marginalize "others."

    Whether the NIKE ad of Weiden + Kennedy was intended to be homophobic, disrespectful and insensitive or not, (and that's certainly been debated), it's drawn sufficient negative responses to suggest it was shortsighted and inconsiderate. And...being inconsiderate, disrespectful or in poor taste, has the same effect, whether intentional or not.

    As my family watched and then celebrated the magic moment in Mexico City, we were struck by the humility and power of the 'silent gesture,' since we all knew the sacrifices that had been made by our two "brothers" to be there; after having experienced lifetimes of injustice - as black folks in America.

    But, we realized in the aftermath that an America which had worshipped them for their track skills, cared little about their minds or social justice convictions, and expected them to just run the race and be happy. 'Just do it and let it be.'

    I do not believe, as Charles Barkley has often been quoted, that 'athletes are not role models,' or that the only responsibility of business is to 'sell its socks off.'

    I am convinced that we can both enjoy and celebrate sports while questioning and challenging many of its distorted, questionable symbols created for profit; including those that can reinforce stereotypes about "others."

    There's a lot to enjoy, learn and teach in sports. Hopefully, the ESPY's celebration of the Mexico moment will stay with us much longer than the ad.

  • (Show?)
    Karol wrote: "[over-thinking homophobia into a Nike ad] has nothing to do with [under-thinking a New Yorker cover as racist]."

    I disagree, Karol. What these incidents have in common is (a) how much we're supposed to think about the images (or not), and (b) whether their creators should care about the cultural impact of multi-message imagery on those who predictably consume them for only their crudest meaning.

    What I think I am hearing from you (please correct me if I'm wrong here) is a viewpoint which says: if you see homophobia in this Nike ad, you're thinking too hard, but if you see racism in the New Yorker cover, you're not thinking hard enough. Which leaves me wondering: how hard are any of us supposed to think, and when?

    For me, the underlying issue is whether pop culture creators (Wieden + Kennedy, etc.) have any responsibility for the unintended side effects of hostile environments they foster, when they derive a commercial benefit for their clients by creating and exploiting them?

    Our culture says its fine to make money from others' humiliation, if they give permission by being a public figure or signing a waiver (Jay Leno and the reality TV producers make a fine living this way). But, is it also fine to make money by promoting an environment which dehumanizes certain people, without their consent, and implies its okay to hurt and kill them ("fuck up a faggot", "you ain't right", etc.)?

    Just this past Sunday, a man in Knoxville opened fire inside a Unitarian Church, killing two and injuring seven, because of the church's vocal support for "liberals in general, as well as gays".

    Events like this do not happen in a vacuum.

  • tomw (unverified)
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    "I'd also urge us to avoid the "intentional fallacy. An image, phrase, etc. need not have been intended to be harmful or hateful to be so, right?"

    I'd like to examine that liberal chestnut. Is a verbal phrase or graphic harmful, no matter what the intent of the source, if the receiver deems it to be? And if it is, should that be reason enough to sanction the source?

    I argue:

    1) No word is meaningful devoid of context, which includes intent. Words are shared symbols, and source/receiver may have a disconnect.

    2) Shared content means the message was received. However, if we have a disconnect between meanings, sources usually get a pass. This is called "miscommunication," and merely means that a source has to work extra hard to communicate to that receiver properly.

    3) There is also a responsibility on the part of the receiver to understand what the source is trying to communicate. Never mind that a word can be interpreted one way, the receiver is supposed to figure out, by context, what the speaker is trying to say. For example, if I tell you, "I am blue," you need to decide if that means that I'm feeling depressed, or if I have somehow dyed my skin azure.

    4) You find what you look for. If you're looking for an insult, it is easy to take anything as offensive. If you're looking for a compliment, that can easily be found, too. In more common parlance, "Get over yourself." Being thin-skinned is a way to interact in this world, but it is miserable.

    5) If you want to prevent anything anyone might be "offended" by or feel is harmful, eventually you can just shut down communication altogether. As some have talked about here, honest conversation about racism, sexism, or other -isms is hard to do, precisely because people fear to offend or be rejected. Where then is free speech if only politically correct speech is allowable? And whose politics determines the content?

    So, the knee-jerk reaction many of us have to villify the person, or at best, the comments of the person, whenever those comments cause somebody pain is ill-done. Sometimes, a joke is a joke, but it is a joke only if both source and receiver mean it to be. Sometimes an insult is an insult, but that too, is shared meaning.

    In sum, the idea of "it's harmful if someone thinks it's harmful" is one of those platitudes that give progressives a bad name. It sounds sympathetic but merely shows us as sloppy thinkers. If you want another platitude, "The meaning you give to a word tells more about you than the speaker." Or "I'll take it as intended." Or "It takes two to tango." For the sake of discussion, I'll take those instead.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "You find what you look for. If you're looking for an insult, it is easy to take anything as offensive."

    I catagorize those type of people as 'uptight' - and there are many of them out there.

  • (Show?)

    "You find what you look for. If you're looking for an insult, it is easy to take anything as offensive."

    Ah, now I get it: anyone who took offense was "looking for it" and "uptight."

    Look: the most charitable interpretation of the Nike ads is that W+K were just trying to be hip; were unaware of the homophobic aspects of the cultural references to which they alluded; and when informed of them did the right thing and pulled the ads.

    Tell you what, "tomw": Let's be charitable. Why don't you tell me just what you think "the source is trying to communicate" with the "Punks Jump Up" reference. They didn't just make the phrase up, so they meant something by it, right?

    As for myself, I actually didn't have a clue before reading the background materials on the Oregonian's site, and had never heard the song. "That ain't right," though, did strike a chord with me. Ironically, it echoes the admittedly homophobic and well-publicized reaction of Tim Hardaway after John Amaechi came out last year, "I don't think that's right."

  • meg (unverified)
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    There has never been a basketball player of any persuasion who wants another man's groin to end up in his face during a dunk on the court. Never. Not gays, not blacks, not Asians, not women, not any player who has ever played the game. That was the idea behind Nike's advertising slogan created by the Wieden and Kennedy advertising agency. Go back and look at every top dunk of the past fifteen years. A large percentage of those ended up looking exactly like the imagery used in this advertising campaign. It's an iconic image, one that's neither homophobic nor racist. And every single person who got upset about this should go stand in a public park and get dunked on repeatedly. Gay or straight, sweaty balls to the face ain't fun. Look, we all know that taking offense is our new national pastime. But what should the corporate response be when the people who take offense don't even understand what they're offended about?

  • (Show?)

    As a commenter said elsewhere, I wish I lived in a world where people like Dan didn't see that ad as homophobic because I am definitely not homophobic, and getting dunked on like that is about the last thing I'd want to happen with me on a basketball court, and I'm guessing that if you asked John Amaechi, he'd say the same thing as well.

    Having said that, I don't live in that world, and the ad was insensitive and because of that, a generally bad idea.

  • (Show?)
    meg wrote: "There has never been a basketball player of any persuasion who wants another man's groin to end up in his face during a dunk on the court."

    To pretend Wieden+Kennedy was not aware of the sexual innuendo in this ad campaign seriously underestimates that firm's intelligence, and shows some naivete about the sophistication of the public relations and advertising industry. These people are paid millions to carefully analyze and craft the explicit and implied messages they deliver. They knew this image would grab attention and remain in memory (as it has, obviously), so they used it.

  • (Show?)

    If there's no male-on-male sexual innuendo intended in Nike's Hyperdunk and related ad campaigns, as some in this thread believe, then what exactly is the point of the references to "Bavarian white sausage on white bread, with sweet mustard" starting at 1:21 in this clip (in a dunk, white Leroy rams his crotch in Terry's face during a dunk, immediately after which Terry begins day-dreaming about "Bavarian white sausage" with Leroy's face super-imposed over it ...):

    Nike Hyperdunk: Terry's Bavarian White Sausage

  • (Show?)

    To second Leo's point:

    Can we please get real here? Honestly – we’re talking about the most aggressive action a ball player can perform on the court, aren’t we? Jamming the ball down the hole. Right in someone’s face. It’s a statement. A humiliating statement. And in the hyper (and hetero) masculinized language of verbal taunts, that translates into: “See what I’m doin’ to you, pussy? I’m f***ing you in the ass. Like you’re a faggot.”

    Are any of you ball players and fans seriously trying to argue that taunting an opponent by suggesting you’re going to f**k him in the ass isn’t about the most basic of all trash talking insults? The ads are a visual representation of that. Pure and simple. It’s all about questioning your opponent’s manhood by essentially calling him a woman or a faggot (just like in the “Punks Jump Up” lyrics, by the way: “Explainin’ to your friends why you’re layin’ on the floor./Did you want some more? I didn’t think so./Just got whipped like a faggot in the clink.”)

    This kind of degradation in sports is very widespread – and if you want to go academic on me, here’s back at you. The late great folklorist Alan Dundes wrote a lot on this. Dundes looked at how in many cultures either physical or verbal play/dueling revolved around reducing the opponent to the status of a woman - i.e., getting fucked (in the ass, if you’re a man). Calling someone a “cunt" or an "asshole," giving someone the finger, etc. – all of these portray the opponent as sexually degraded by virtue of having been turned into a woman. It’s where sexism and homophobia meet.

    Dundes' best academic work on this was a piece called “The Strategy of Turkish Boys' Verbal Dueling Rhymes.” If I remembert correctly, there's an hysterical part in it where Dundes claims that there's no word for "cucumber" in Turkish that has any decently good etymology tracing back to Indo-European roots because every time they had one it would immediately come to mean "dick" and then they'd have to make up another....

  • (Show?)

    Haven't seen the ad in question, don't know what part of the song is quoted in it.

    But I would like to draw attention to a different part of the song lyrics that specifically make reference to Nike:

    You thought you had a sweet vic, a nice pick, But you didnt anticipate that I might be sick. Now whos the trick, cuz Im not a up. (no, no-no-no!) I always do the fuckin, just might do the buckin. I leave my nikes stuck in your rectum, till you learn Brand nubian, yo, you gotta respect em. Dissect em, yo, our word is bond regardless.

    Do we really think W & K were oblivious to this reference?

    As to what Nike would gain, well, Brand Nubian presumably sells this to someone, lots of someones, and it seems likely that Nike & W & K want to sell shoes to the same audience. Plus others who won't recognize the reference.

  • (Show?)

    Nike Hyperdunk: Terry's Bavarian White Sausage

    To use a sports metaphor: game, set, match. Well done, Leo.

  • meg (unverified)
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    Leo? Have you ever played Basketball. |Nutz in your face to ya!

  • (Show?)
    Dan wrote: "It’s all about questioning your opponent’s manhood by essentially calling him a woman or a faggot

    Homophobia is a form of misogyny. Gay men are feared and despised by some straight males and females because in their view we've "betrayed" our manhood, or aren't "real men", because we have both feminine and masculine traits in our nature and behavior. Because such people view women as inferior to men, any man who "chooses" to act like a woman forgoes all respect as man, and deserves none as a woman. He is "other", and simple minds fear the unknown.

    Fear of homosexuality is also culturally rooted in some ancient myths, based in fears for tribal survival. Exclusively homosexual behavior creates no children, threatening survival of an under-populated tribe. For similar tribal-survival reasons, basic hygiene guidelines (e.g., avoid pork and shellfish) permeate the Christian Bible and similar texts as ancient "laws", which are as irrational in light of proper modern food-handling technology, as the fear we may run out of babies (as we over-populate and kill our planet).

    Homophobic behavior by an individual also commonly indicates they're unsure of their own sexuality and are trying to over-compensate to create a self-protective mask. It's often rooted in a valid fear for self-protection, given how badly gay men are abused, and fear of homosexuality is exploited, in much of America and the world.

  • (Show?)
    meg wrote: "But what should the corporate response be when the people who take offense don't even understand what they're offended about?

    Meg, we know exactly what we're offended about. We are offended that Wieden+Kennedy, Nike, and Brand Nubian are making a buck by exploiting fear of homosexual behavior, thereby fostering hostile cultural environments which make events like this more likely to occur.

  • Joseph (unverified)
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    How is calling this ad "anti-gay" different from concluding that the Dunkin Donuts ad (featuring Rachel Ray in a scarf) is pro-terrorism?

    Honestly I think it absurd that anybody would seriously believe that the ad agency was making a political statement in either of these two campaigns. Talk about bad PR... for them and their paying clients. Do you seriously think it was intentional? Seriously? You think W+K execs would allow their creatives to insert a political message that flies in the face of what Portland stands for (where both W+K and Nike call home)? At the risk of losing the Nike account and the bad local publicity? Is that worth getting an anti-gay message out to the public?

    I don't buy that. That would be one of the stupidest, most self-destructive and embarrassing things that W+K could possibly do. And you think they went into that willingly, in spite of the risks of a public backlash? Yeah, right. Like a previous commenter has stated, they're in business for the money. This type of bad publicity risks losing money, not gaining money. It would be a foolish business decision. To state that W+K allowed this ad to go intentionally with an anti-gay message is an insult their intelligence and business acumen.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "Honestly I think it absurd that anybody would seriously believe that the ad agency was making a political statement in either of these two campaigns"

    I think the same thing - which is why I would ask those who took it too seriously this question: "Why are you so uptight about it?"

  • (Show?)

    That would be one of the stupidest, most self-destructive and embarrassing things that W+K could possibly do

    None of us can know the intentions of the campaign's producers. But to quote Forest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."

  • (Show?)
    Joseph: "Do you seriously think it was intentional?"

    Without a doubt. The Nike Hyperdunk: Bavarian White Sausage ad (specifically from 1:21 on) proves W+K intended homosexual innuendo in their Nike Hyperdunk ad campaign. Homosexual references are still jarring to mainstream social values when juxtaposed with hyper-masculine sports culture. Ads are high-value if they remain in memory. Jarring images remain in memory.

    Wieden+Kennedy knew exactly what they intended: to exploit fear of homosexual behavior to create jarring, and therefore memorable advertising imagery.

  • (Show?)
    Eric Parker wrote: "I think the same thing - which is why I would ask those who took it too seriously this question: "Why are you so uptight about it?"

    Because promoting and supporting cultural fears of homosexual behavior fosters hostile environments which lead some people to think it's okay to murder gay people, and those who support us.

    To promote irrational fear of anyone is wrong. To do it for a buck is disgusting.

  • (Show?)

    Eric, if you haven't followed out the link to video piece of this campaign, the "Bavarian sausage" one, you really should.

    But at the risk of sidetracking the thread, let me say that I can't answer your question because I have no idea what you mean by "uptight". I know it's a word you use a lot, and idiosyncratically, and that in some contexts it seems to be close to the worst thing you, personally, can say about someone. Not sure if you mean it that harshly in this context.

  • (Show?)

    Let me try this from a different angle.

    The basketball fans, or some of them, say this is about a kind of athletic domination that is well-recognized and appreciated by anyone who's a real fan, and that anyone who's bothered just isn't a real fan and is missing the point. Ignoring the potential for circular logic there -- I think I know some serious basketball fans who would think this one of the less interesting kinds of achievements in the game -- let's grant the premise that it is about representing a well-recognized form of athletic domination.

    Why does that mean it's not also about representing something else simultaneously? Weiden & Kennedy are pretty famous exactly for being able to convey multiple meanings, aren't they?

    Let me offer two other possibilities, which I don't think mutually exclusive either with the granted premise or with one another.

    1) There is a lot of homophobia and potential for homophobia in jock culture (maybe particularly male jock culture). Kind of like the military. Especially in team sports. These settings rely on homophilia -- guys liking and knowing one another really well, bonding, having a lot of mutual trust and affection and understanding, that helps in cooperating in the game. Now put that in a general culture that's homophobic. And make it particularly a contact sport with bodies rubbing up against one another. And make it a contact sport where the contact isn't mediated by lots of pads and helmets (not to say this doesn't apply to football even so).

    This is a setting set up for anxiety about being misinterpreted as gay, among straight guys who don't want to be seen that way, and perhaps anxiety about correctly being interpreted as either being homosexual and not wanting to be outed, or having the social homophilia take on a sexual edge correctly seen even for someone who's primarily heterosexual.

    And lets say the patterns relating to these tensions and anxieties are set mainly in adolescence, when identity is insecure, sexuality fraught with uncertainty and misunderstanding, emotions unstable, and understanding of cruelty limited and capacity for it that much greater. And let's say that a proportion of jocks are made to feel bad about other aspects of school in one way or another, inflating their need to feel good about their athleticism. And let's say some of those vent the bad feelings on unathletic kids in bullying, often expressed in homophobic terms ("faggot"). Which raises the anxiety level about being interpreted as gay among the circle of athletes, by adding an association to "loserness" (to coin a term).

    I think pretty much all of that goes on pretty regularly, and that many of the idioms of athletic domination, "trash talking" & so on refer to those anxieties rooted in adolescence, even at the professional level and perhaps even more now that so many professionals are still adolescent when they start.

    To boil all that down and not put too fine a point on it, there's a lot of homophobia in the athletic culture and the basketball culture itself, which W & K know perfectly well, and know will appeal to lots of fans as part of the game, so that the fact that these photos are "part of the game" does mean anything at all one way or the other about whether they're playing on homophobia.

    That's for the side of liking the ads that identifies with the "dominator" (who mostly is outside of the frame, though).

    2) It is a well know principle of advertising to present an anti-model and create anxiety in the viewer/ prospective consumer that he or she is or will be like that loser/ person in an undesirable position if he or she doesn't buy the right product, and a feeling of superiority by virtue of having/buying the right stuff.

    So, let's say we want to create anxiety about getting dominated in basketball because of lacking the right (very expensive) shoes. What could we do to heighten that anxiety? Hey, let's link it to the high anxieties about homophilic/homosexual tensions and domination and losership in jock culture -- think that'd work?

    As for the points about not liking someone else's cock and balls in your face involuntarily -- of course not. But put that in the context of domination -- there's a piece of the homophobia which has to do with rape fears -- the Brand Nubians invoke exactly that in their paean to domination talking about prison rape. On one level, "rape isn't about sex, it's about domination" -- but we still call it sexual assault and sexual violence.

    <h2>There are other dots here to be connected to Leo's spot on point about misogyny, not just about rape fantasies and fears, but about jocks and competition for female attention and BMOC's in high school & college and the connection to some male athletes' ego-satisfaction in mistreatment of women, but I've written more than enough for now, so I'll leave it to you to connect them.</h2>

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