FirstCuts: Are the New Nike Ads Homophobic or Simply Being Misunderstood?

So yesterday, an ad that was first unveiled by Wieden+Kennedy and produced for Nike back in June finally received some attention here, here and a lot of other places. Here is that ad in question: ↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵Now, at the peril of this blog, I’ll ask the question: What do you think of this ad? ↵

↵

↵More than a few people feel that juxtaposing an image of one man’s face being slammed into another man crotch with the phrase “That Ain’t Right” splashed across in big letters is homophobic. Is that my personal feeling? No. But read the comments on the W+K site, True Hoop or Gawker linked above, and you’ll see there are quite a few that do. ↵

↵

↵If you were to take a sampling of commenters, it’s every combination of homosexual/heterosexual/black/white voicing such a wide range of opinions. ↵

↵

↵Ultimately, there appears to be a cultural disconnect and maybe just a little bit of an overreaction. ↵

↵

↵This ad actually is one of several from a line promoting Nike’s Hyperdunk, the same one that has had one giant ad push from viral ads to a major upcoming Olympic push. They’re all variations on this, but, to put it gently, the crotch area isn’t so intertwined with someone’s nose in the others. ↵So you combine this with the words “That Ain’t Right,” and you’ve evidently got a controversy. However, is it the wording that makes this offensive? I’ve determined it has to be. But honestly, “That Ain’t Right” is in reference to the embarrassment that stems from getting dunked on in a funky manner. Like when your boys say “That ain’t right how he embarrassed you.” To this end, I quote Bethlehem Shoals: ↵

↵
↵⇥It's embarrassing to have someone stick their crotch in your face. And insulting to gay men to insinuate that they always enjoy it. ↵
↵

↵If it wasn’t the words, these same people would’ve been beating down AND1’s door years ago for various shirts that made overt references to this very scene. It was even within the last year or two that the company created a shirt simply with a tea bag on the front. Another just had peanuts. It didn’t take a genius to see what it meant. Take a moment to look at the full W+K campaign and tell me if the other ads are homophobic. ↵

↵

↵I’m all for acknowledging that there’s probably a higher level of homophobia within athletics than the general population. As it was pointed out in one of the other posts, there’s probably a reason there’s never been an active NBA player who was willing to out himself as gay. ↵

↵

↵On a daily basis here at Sporting News -- and particularly on The Sporting Blog -- we do (believe it or not) take the time to think about whether stuff is appropriate. Anyone in any form of media -- whether it’s advertising, music, TV, print, etc. -- is required to think about not just a segment of their audience, but everyone in it and how their content will effect them. Given W+K’s history, this isn’t their first rodeo and they were no different. ↵

↵

↵W+K has done some revolutionary advertising for Nike in the past that has drawn a great deal of attention. The only thing is that I’m not sure they’ve ever drawn them this kind of attention. This particular ad in the Hyperdunk series doesn’t bother me – because I feel like I understand that “That Ain’t Right” is not referring to a gay lifestyle but rather the fact that a guy just got embarrassed because he was dunked on. I believe many of the people who want to see homophobia will see it for various reasons – whether it’s a dislike for Nike or the fact that they face real homophobia on a day-to-day basis, therefore they are more sensitive to the subject. ↵

↵

↵OK, TSB commenters, restore my faith in you and discuss it like adults. Should this ad be pulled? Should the entire series be pulled? ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.