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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is "That Ain't Right" Not Right?

Posted by Ezra Ace Caraeff on Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 9:52 AM

nikead.jpg

The above image is part of a Wieden+Kennedy designed "Hyperdunk print campaign" for Nike, and it's drummed up quite a bit of controversy. Yesterday Gawker wrote at length about how the ad fits into the homophobic "sports status quo."

That said, the larger point is that the joke here--as in other campaigns revolving around ALL OF AMERICA'S MOST POPULAR SPORTS--is based on the implacable homophobia of straight jocks. That can't be denied. So Nike should pull the ads. Or rework them to be friendlier to gay basketball fans, at least.

Meanwhile the W+K blog has reader comments, and some folks weigh in on the issue:

The whole concept is immature and homophobic. Are we still so juvenile and insecure in our sexuality and masculinity that we think these are funny? LAME.

I don't really see it. Now if the campaign focused on any of the other hundreds of outlandishly gay moments in sports (a quarterback's hands delicately placed beneath the ass of his bent over center while awaiting a snap, baseball's dugout buttslaps of approval, or this joyous celebration between two teammates) and declared them to be "ain't right," then we'd have a real problem. But this ad's copy is based on the fact that the player in the image just got dunked on. Dunked on so badly that his opponent's balls are now at chin level. Gay or straight, I assume no one wants an uninvited sweaty pair in their grill--now if it's invited, well, that's another story...

Of course, the NBA has reluctantly become the first major sport to address homosexuality--first there was former player John Amaechi (he's gay) and then the comments of onetime all-star Tim Hardaway (he "hates" gays)--so the sport is a little sensitive right now. And while I don't want to condone the blatant homophobia of the "no homo" sports world, it does seem like a bit of a reach to be offended by an ad like this. Thoughts?

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