Some call it cynicism, but I prefer to think of it as burn-out, or fatigue. There's just too much info out there for us to invest any energy in tracking down, and clinging to, the truth. Whatever that is.
Like it or not, that's the cultural climate of our day, and pretty much explains everything wrong with the universe. Sometimes, though, there comes a moment when -- almost comically -- the clouds part, and we are set straight. Sometimes, a truly great man reminds us that there is such a thing as true, false, and manufactured.
I speak, of course, of Michael Jordan telling the AP that the mash-up of his Nike ad and LeBron James's Nike ad was not, in fact, a real Nike ad. Quoth His Airness: "I had absolutely nothing to do with it, Nike had absolutely nothing to do with it".
Jordan also went out of his way to tell us that he knew nothing about the video until one of his kids hipped him to it. He could have gone a step further, and clarified that he didn't feel this way, either. Since, you know, the web is capable of reaching into our brains and pulling out things that we didn't know existed, or synthesizing them out of nothing and forcing us to comment. But, to get back to the basics of life on Earth, that the situation had to go all the way up to the top just shows that our civilization is positively doomed.
Here's the video, in case you have been living inside a bomb shelter until last night's game was over:
Really professionally done. Superficially, the match is perfect. Who knows, maybe that incarnation of Nike Jordan would feel that way about Nike LeBron. Those are both ads that seem to speak from the heart ... that's pretty close to real feelings, right? It's not that much of a leap to contrast the two and say "wow, Jordan might not approve of LeBron" or at least "huh, these two superstar pitchmen are on a divergent course".
Except there's one small detail here: THESE WERE REALLY COMMERCIALS ALREADY. WE SAW THEM WHEN THEY CAME OUT. THIS WOULD BE CHEAP BEYOND BELIEF. Nike made them separately, years apart, for very different reasons. I am fairly certain that, when I initially watched the clip, I thought of Commercial A and Commercial B, then smirked at how nicely they lined up. Great work, internet. This is not what high-powered agencies or multi-billion dollar corporations do in their spare time. Nor is Dark Side of the Moon vs. The Wizard of Oz ever mistaken for any one auteur's major achievement. It's luck, coincidence, chance. You show it off by just throwing A and B up at the same time and letting viewers react.
Granted, the company has gotten sneaky, with campaigns like the for-five-minutes-it-seemed-real "Kevin Durant's neighbor" series. Please tell me, though, why, in troubled economic times, Nike would go out of its way to create a guerilla clip that, in effect, turns its two most valuable assets against each other. Using a Jordan ad that anyone who saw it in its original context knew that, in truth, this belonged to another era of NBA marketing, or at least another genus.
It might have been smart, and provocative, for Nike (or W+K) to jump on this trend, and put together their own version of this. Still, you would think that this hypothetical second video wouldn't be so clumsy or self-destructive. This was a golden opportunity to make light of, or explore, the contradictions. Bringing them out? That's not in anyone's best interests.
But apparently, all this was lost on us, because we had to go all the way up to the top, to Jordan himself, to get to the bottom of this. No one called Nike. Only Michael Jordan could set us straight, since he can be trusted. He is the light. And thus, appropriately, he stated the obvious and crushed our dreams. Or did he? It doesn't really matter what Michael Jordan says, since enough people fell for the "ad," or simply didn't care whether or not it was real. Nike contradicted itself! Jordan might hate LeBron! The commercials told us so.
Why the reporter asked Jordan about the video, rather than how he actually feels about James, shows you just how screwed we really are.