Chain saws, drugs and lesbians

By Ruth Shalit


Salon Staff
October 4, 2000 11:35PM (UTC)

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I, too, thought the Nike chainsaw ad was pretty funny -- until it came on the air early enough to scare the pants off my 3-year-old son. I don't think the ad is degrading to anyone except chubby would-be serial killers, but the Olympics is a family-oriented broadcast, and the advertisers should keep that in mind -- unless they want to take nightmare duty off my hands.

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-- Ellen P. Kiley

Nike's Olympic advertising provides a sterling example of the senseless violence used to market everything from children's toys to athletic shoes. Shalit's deconstruction of the ad into some sort of post-feminist victory for women bewildered me. What I saw was no lighthearted caricature underlining the giant strides women have made in sports since the passage of Title IX; instead, I saw a bleak, sleazy attempt to cash in on the limited cachet of the Gen X slasher movie culture. Nike pulls the same stunt in an ad featuring a young skateboarder dashing through the city in an attempt to escape a presumably evil knight on horseback. Same concept, different gender, just as sleazy.

I think what upsets people so much is not that we're all a bunch of humorless prudes who can't take a joke; it's just that we've seen it all before, ad nauseam, and we're ready for something new, please.

-- Andrew Roth

The flap over the Nike advertisement doesn't surprise me. I believe it supports the view that we all live in America, Land of the Offended. Some people want us to have equality, but still enjoy our protected status. Enough already! Thanks, Nike, for what you do. Just do it!

-- Lisa Brady

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I thought the chain saw ad was funny. The ads I really despised, and which came near to ruining the Games for me, were the "No Coke" ads, where, at an emotional moment, someone asks for a Coke and then behaves abominably because there is none to be had. Those ads were very mean-spirited and far more corrosive to the fabric of society than any chain saws or lesbian lovers. I hope I never meet or have anything to do with the makers of those commercials; I don't even want to describe the commercials. In a lame attempt at humor, Coke succeeded in soiling my experience of the Games.

-- Sarah Jumel

I, too, liked the Suzy Hamilton ad and the one with Lance Armstrong. The line, "I'm a human cannonball, not a doctor" had my whole Star Trek-watching family in tears of laughter. As a cyclist with asthma, the idea of using sport to live longer and have stronger lungs strikes home.

Now the ad I found really repulsive was the Bud Lite one with the two jerks in the art class. I don't get how that scene would transfer anything but equity in crass sexism, but then I don't drink light beer.

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-- Ben Schapiro

I read Ruth Shalit's profile of the Olympic Games' brand-building potential, and one casual paragraph fairly flew off the page at me:

"Rather than associating the rings with corporately minted virtues such as 'leadership,' 'excellence' and 'quality,' 21st century viewers seem far more likely to associate the Olympic brand with, say, 'chemicals' -- hardly a fertile area for equity transfer, unless you are Monsanto. Hence the recent decision by IBM to end its 40-year history as a top Olympic sponsor."

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Having worked extensively on IBM's publicity push for its sponsorship of the 2000 Olympic Games as well as the Olympics-affiliated internal Web site created for IBM employees to gain access to information relating to IBM's involvement in the Games, I assure you that IBM's decision to cease partnership in the Games revolved around the upping of the $55 million fee that Shalit alludes to and Gateway's shocking overbid for rights to supply computers to the Athens games.

IBM is fighting for its life against smaller, more nimble solution providers. It couldn't care less if athletes had trainers shooting them up with heroin on the starting line, as long as its potential customers bought the idea that IBM had provided an "e-business" solution while hooking up a bunch of PC's in the Olympic Village.

-- Bart Shrode

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