Monday, April 5, 2021

Selling Your Sole to the Devil


 Have you heard the latest controversy? Last week,  as a promotional tie-in to his new video,  rapper Lil Nas X put on sale 665 satanically-modified Nike sneak--oops, I'm dating myself--athletic shoes, with a drop of human blood in each and every one, at $1,018 a pop. If all you Iron Maiden fans out there are wondering about the 666th, that's to be raffled off in the near future (so, in order to pull this off, did 666 different people get pricked with a needle, or did one person just get pricked 666 times? I can't help but wonder about these things.) As evidence that capitalism is still very much with us despite some devastating blows of late, all 665 pairs sold out in less than a minute. Not that every single customer that ordered one got it delivered to their door via Amazon or whoever, as Nike Inc.--which didn't authorize either the modification or the sale and certainly not the raffle--has won a temporary restraining order halting the delivery of the fallen angel footwear. The multinational corporation--headquartered in 14% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 27% religiously unaffiliated Oregon but with most of its factories in Buddhist East Asia--is planning other legal action as well. I guess I can see where Nike is coming from. Nobody likes having their brand coopted, especially without their permission. That said, Nike should be careful about (as numerous biblical quotes put it) reaping what they sow, or (as Hesiod by the way of Edith Hamilton puts it) opening up a Pandora's box, or (as 1001 Arabian Nights by way of Sidney Sheldon puts it) letting the genie out of the bottle. After all...


...a certain Greek goddess might complain that it was originally her brand that was coopted.


16 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    I'm old and out of the loop, good buddy. I never heard of rapper Lil Nas X or any of the nine Lil Nasses that came before him.

    (BA-BUM-BUMP)

    I watched his video. It resembled an Eddie Murphy SNL sketch. That isn't far from the truth, because I read that Lil Nas X spent the mid and late 2010s gaining an internet following by posting short-format comedy videos on Facebook and Vine. (Meanwhile Shady's gonna be standing on the corner 12th Street and Vine with my Kansas City baby and a bottle of Kansas City wine.) As for his promotional gimmick of selling (or trying to sell) Nike athletic shoes containing a drop of blood, I'm ordering three dozen pairs. Imagine their resale value 50 years from now, especially after Shady Del Knight has worn them! By the way, if you're interested, I'm auctioning off pairs of my worn boxer shorts on nauthtynighties.com. They're sure to become the most coveted collectibles on the used underwear market! Remember my slogan: "If your used undies aren't becoming to you... you should be coming to me."

    Have a great week, good buddy Kirk!

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    1. Shady, not just rap, he's a country star, too:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2Ov5jzm3j8

      He's one interesting hombre, that's for sure. I'm curious, actually quite eager, to see what he does next.

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    2. Thanks for letting me know more about this versatile artist, Kirk. He's obviously very well known to millions and I don't know why I never heard of him. I'm afraid I'm becoming my parents, and I've decided to seek help from Dr. Rick. I'm attending his next seminar in Pacific Palisades if you'd care to join me.

      I watched that movie style music video featuring Chris Rock produced in conjunction with Lil Nas X's "country trap" single. I also read about the controversy after the record was yanked from the Country chart just as it was about to reach #1. On YouTube the vid received 11 million likes, but a whopping 387,000 dislikes. Seems a heck of a lotta people prefer to keep the country and R&B/Hip-Hop charts segregated and the rock chart almost completely white as well. Everybody sing along: "It's a small (minded) world after all."

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    3. Shady, this is why in some of the debates we've had in the past about things such as, say, Tim Conway, I recoiled a bit at your Generation Gap arguments. As I get older I see how difficult is is to stay on the more "contemporary" half of that gap, and that makes me want to give the benefit (or the shadow) of a doubt to my parents generation regarding those matters. We're born when we're born and sometimes it takes great acts of existentialism to see outside of that.

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  2. Hello Kirk, In Taiwan many schoolchildren take "English" names, some of them very odd, like "Good" or "Wedge" to take a couple of actual examples. I met one boy who chose Nike, but he didn't believe me when I told him it was a girl's name. Of course, he can use any name he wants, but I doubted that was his intention. Since they use it for athletic gear, he figured it must be masculine. I suppose with blood added the name takes on a little more edge.
    --Jim

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    1. Jim, remember the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue"? Maybe if there had been an athletic shoe brand called Sue, the lead character in that song would have been more accepting of it.

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  3. I feel so old. It is interesting though.

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    1. I don't blame you, Andrew. I'm trying very hard to keep an eye on current trends in pop culture so this blog's not stuck in 1978 all the time, but it's hard. When you're young your brain, or at least MY brain, seems to be mass media fly paper. The, with age, it becomes Teflon.

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  4. It seems to have been incredibly reckless on Lil Nas X's part to modify and sell Nike shoes without Nike's permission. I can't imagine such an obvious copyright infraction would have occurred by accident or ignorance, so I can only assume it was for publicity purposes and they are prepared not to profit from it financially, because all those proceeds will eventually have to be paid to Nike.

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    1. Debra, Lil Nas X's song "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" is now number one on the charts, so I'm sure he'll make some money off THAT.

      Given the song's popularity, I wonder if there's not some second-guessing now going on at Nike's headquarters. They've spent decades marketing their product to young people, and now risk looking like a bunch of old fuddy-duddies.

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  5. I've been following the stories. It's an entertaining idea and obviously a big money maker. I do get where Nike is coming from. It's their product and their brand. They're automatically identified with a bastardized version of their product they never agreed to endorse. PLUS, they get no share of the profits... although that's obviously not what they want in this case. Too bad LIL Nas X didn't simply pay to have his own shoe created to carry the design. Then again, as you said, no one asked the goddess!

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    1. Mitchell, I should point out that these legal actions by Nike are not being carried out against Lil Nas X himself, but an alternative-culture company called MSCHF, that actually bought all these shoes and modified them. Two years ago this company did the same thing with "Jesus shoes", each pair of which supposedly had a drop of water from the River Jordon that was blessed by a priest. Though MSCHF's motives seem to be more satirical than evangelical, Nike did not complain.

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  6. I wonder how different this is compared to buying a car, modifying it, and reselling it.

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    1. Mike, I was wondering the same thing. Ever hear of the 1960s custom car designer Big Daddy Roth? Did he ever get permission from Detroit?

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  7. I'm so out of the loop. I had no idea that this happened. I don't think I've heard any of his music, although it could have played on the radio while I was in the car.

    I've become that person...thank goodness you've kept me from living under a rock.

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    1. JM, read my reply to Andrew. The older we get, the more likely there's a Wile E. Coyote Jr. waiting to drop a boulder on us, and it becomes harder for the aging roadrunners that we are to get out of the way, but I ain't saying any more lest I be sued by Warner Brothers (or ACME)

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