The Whatever Digest, 9/5/18
Good morning! Let’s see what we’ve got today.
That Nike Ad: In which Colin Kaepernick’s face gazes out whilst the phrase “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” floats right around his nose. It’s been eliciting polarized responses, as it was almost certainly absolutely intended to do, and in the meantime is doing very well for both Nike and Kaepernick in terms of mindshare.
I was asked if I have any thoughts on the whole thing. My thoughts:
1. I’ve been generally for NFL players using the mandatory patriotic period before the game to protest, so it’s not like I was ever angry with Kaepernick et al for doing so, so the fuming, spitting rage a whole bunch of (white) folks feel at the man’s visage has completely missed me. Likewise it’s fairly obvious that his exile from the NFL has been about (from the owners point of view) warning uppity players to keep their heads down — great job there, guys — so the sentiment of the ad is likewise not all that controversial to me.
2. That Kaepernick is controversial at all — well. There’s a very high correlation between Kaepernick hatred and racism, whether that racism is overt or latent. So if you or someone you know is in a fuming outrage about the ad or Nike at the moment, some internal examination is probably in order.
3. As others have noted, it’s nearly impossible that an organization as media-savvy as Nike was not aware that angry, racist-in-some-manner-or-degree (white) folks would lose their shit over the ad; they factored it in, did the media research, and came to the conclusion that a) angry racist white people were not their general sales demographic, and/or b) that they could afford to lose the angry racist white person market for long-term gains to be made in a generally younger, multicultural, non(or at least less overall)-racist market down the road, and/or c) Nike’s market these days is global in any event. And you know what? They’re probably right about that.
4. Likewise, Nike was probably not so foolish as to not figure there would be a call for a “boycott,” and in fact I would go so far as to say that Nike probably counted on it — there is little better advertisement for Nike in its desired mostly young, mostly urban, mostly multicultural audience than a bunch of angry racist (white) people destroying Nike merchandise they already paid for and own. Also, Nike owns more of the sports apparel world than just Nike. I saw a comment from someone smugly saying they would never wear Nike again and have switched to Converse, and then someone pointing out who Converse is owned by.
5. Oh, and, the right-wing gloating about Nike’s market share taking a dip because of the ad? Well, here’s Nike’s 12-month stock chart:
That eentsey downturn at the right? From the ad. Meanwhile, 12 months ago Nike’s stock was 26 dollars less a share. If I were an investor in Nike, I wouldn’t be all that worried.
6. With all of that said, can Nike be reasonably accused of over-egging the pudding with the “sacrificing everything” bit? Kaepernick is still well-off, still a notable figure, still a free man with an endorsement contract with Nike and so on. He didn’t sacrifice everything like, say, Muhammad Ali sacrificed everything by protesting the draft, in which Ali was stripped of his titles, denied a license to box, had his passport withheld and was convicted of dodging the draft, a conviction that would take the Supreme Court to overturn.
“Or the troops! They gave everything! Don’t forget the troops! The troops!”
Sure, okay, fine, the troops, although honestly the deployment of the troops as a silencing mechanism by conservatives is a rhetorical trope we need to examine thoroughly at some point, although that time is not now. But the question still stands: Did Kaepernick, in fact, “sacrifice everything” by standing for something?
Well, I don’t know. If you had a job, and you decided to risk it by standing for something your bosses found inconvenient, and indeed you were sacked and (very probably) blackballed from working in that particular field ever again, would you say you had sacrificed everything? Would others say it? Would it matter if you tailored your protest (as Kaepernick did) to be respectful, only to have it decided after the fact that it wasn’t respectful at all? Would it matter if you were vilified and hated by an entire segment of the population, up to and including the President of the United States?
I think it’s obvious that Nike went for a dramatic formulation in its ad copy because, surprise, it’s ad copy. And you can grouse about whether the ad copy should be taken literally if you want. But Kaepernick sticking to his guns to the point of being made an object lesson by NFL owners to other players is significant enough that I’m not going to sweat a smidge of ad copy hyperbole.
7. That said, I think the formulation of the ad at the top of the post is even more accurate. Remember Bing-Bong, y’all.
Krissy sent me an email this morning with the header “kingdom of the spiders” and warned me to be careful stepping onto the back deck today, so naturally I had to go out and see. And indeed, there are lots of spider webs out back today, including one especially ambitious one that spans the steps from the deck to the concrete path to the garage. The culprits are a bunch of orb weavers that have sprung up in the last couple of weeks. We’ve had a rainy summer, so we have lots of bugs, and that’s good news for the local spider population, which has boomed to match.
I’m not in the least squicked out by spiders, and I appreciate the job they go killing the crap out of the insects that do bother me, so by and large I’m perfectly content to let the orb weavers do their thing around the house, as long as they do it outside. With that said, I think the ambitious one, the one at face level to anyone trying to walk up to our deck using the steps, will probably have to go. Sorry, Ms. Orb Weaver. Location is everything.
And no, no pictures for this particular spider web. The dew has evaporated and it’s hard to photograph. Also I know some of you are spider-sensitive. But if spiders and spiderwebs are your thing, I have a lovely photo album of some from last year, here.
Oh hey, look, a new Steve Perry song!
As a very very long-time Journey and Steve Perry fan, the fact that Perry is coming back into the spotlight after almost a quarter-century away pleases me immensely, and what I’ve heard of the upcoming album Traces has been pretty good. Perry’s voice is a bit more crackly than it was in his heyday, but it would be, wouldn’t it; anyone who expecting a nearly 70-year-old man to have the same litheness of voice as he had in his youth is, shall we say, burdened with expectation. But what is there is Perry’s particular sense of musical phrasing and pacing, which is right where it’s always been. Lots of people have tried to sound like Steve Perry, but very few actually get it right, and Perry’s own sense of musicality is why. It’s singular.
This particular song, I will note, is co-written by my pal Dan Wilson, the former frontman for Semisonic and the fellow who co-wrote the Adele’s absolute monster hit “Someone Like You,” which helped her (and him!) pick up All The Grammys a few years back. When the song list for Traces came out and I saw his credit, I immediately DM’d him “YOU WORKED WITH STEVE PERRY AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME,” which he found pretty funny. Yeah. Funny. But I’m delighted that they got to work together, and that the song they worked together on is a keeper. I’m looking forward to the rest of this album, and having Steve Perry back in the world of music.