How deeply weird is this new Nike commercial?
I’m sort of hesitant to make a big fuss out of it for the same reason I don’t like talking about Jersey Shore or Sarah Palin: because monsters like this feed off of attention, and it’s impossible to critique them in any way without giving them exactly what they want. But this seems worth of a comment, just because it’s so damn creepy, and I wonder if it isn’t the harbinger of things to come.
This sort of public scolding of celebrities is always a disgusting and hypocritical affair. Woods, after all, is just the guy that got caught, and this ritual flagellation is supposed to draw our attention away from the culture that spawned it. It’s another part of the circus, allowing us to feel smug and superior, and giving us a little dose of schadenfreude. Plus, everyone gets to talk about it like it’s news and cover it like it’s news, which is nice because hard news–the important stuff–is difficult, complex, and frequently boring.
We all know this song and dance, but Nike has just upped the hall-of-mirrors factor several-fold. They’ve put a corporate stamp on a personal infidelity. Rather than ditching Woods as a mascot–a typical response–they’ve laid claim to even the most private aspects of his personal life. Hell, even his father.
But the strangest aspect of this whole thing is just the form of the ad: there’s Tiger Woods, looking directly at us, quietly pleading for our forgiveness. As if we’re the people he wronged. That was sort of the point of that idiotic press conference too, but here it’s Nike, a corporation, offering up so that we can respond with either scorn or benevolence. Even creepier is the paternal voice over; rather than actually showing Earl Woods, Nike opts to present him as the voice of God. Whose God? The logo at the end tells us. Surprise! It’s Nike.
But if this alone is making you vaguely queasy, wait until tomorrow. That’s when the major networks are going to start reporting on this ad, using it as an excuse to prolong the whole ordeal. Which, of course, is what Nike wants. And what Tiger Woods wants, too, presumably because he’s getting paid a shitload of money for this and it’s good PR. Really there are so many layers of cynical capitalization going on right now that it makes my head hurt. I’m pretty sure all the parties involved just put those infamous half-hookers to shame.