I read a couple of news stories today that ESPN pulled a pulled an ad featuring Shaquille O'Neal and commentator Mike Breen. Organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign called the ad homophobic.
I went to YouTube and watched, ready. . . ready to be mad, incensed, political, ready to send a shit-gram to ESPN.
I am still waiting to find the homophobic part. Or at least anything worth sending an e-mail about.
SG, in case you haven't seen it, Breen tries to give Shaq a celebratory fist bump. Only problem is that Breen calls it a "fist kiss" not fist bump. Shaq pulls back from Breen: "No fist kiss, no fist love, no fist hump. None of that. You're a weirdo, man. Stay over there. Fist kiss. Disgusting."
Homophobic? Come on, folks, simmer down. As I "read" this ad, it's not about prejudice or homophobia, it's about mocking Breen for being so clueless and uncool as to call it a fist kiss, not bump.
The joke of the ad is about the cliche of the high-five and fist bump. Breen's desire is for street cred, but what he reveals is what a dork he is. Shaq's pulling away signals "Game over, dude, because you don't know how to play the cool game." That's how I read it. The lobbying for ESPN to drop the ad should have come from the geek police, not gay advocacy groups.
I am not a fist bumper. Never have been. The last straw was when I was worn out by a boss who punctuated every conversation with high-fives. Then he moved on to fist bumps. Called me "Dawg." He had about as much street cred as Breen.
Readers, please weigh in on this now-withdrawn spot. Homophobic and offensive? Satiric cultural commentary? Just dumb and pointless?
P.S. In withdrawing the ad, ESPN said that it was never their intent "to be offensive to anyone or any community of people."
ESPN uses these simple ads to emphasize the overlap between jocks and reporters. Star athletes often work in the blah cubicles of ESPN corporate, and ESPN personalities mix in the off-court lives of athletes. The ads never focus on real sports drama, but place ESPN as the premium brand with unlimited access. Brilliant, I think.
This is one of a series of ads in which the ESPN personalities visit Shaq in his RV (the tight quarters emphasize Shaq's size, of course).
In my favorite, Shaq is winning a Scrabble game with an abundance of Q words including "Shaqtastic."
"Where did you get all of those Qs?," they ask.
"Don't worry about it," he replies with a hint of menace.
It's Shaq's world and we're just lucky to be living in it. Don't confront, challenge, or bother him.
Same thing with the ad above. It's not about sex, obviously, but when "hump" and "disgusting" run together, I can see how someone might force a connection. I didn't see one either, GG.
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