F#@% Blake Griffin: How Nike Just Ruined Space Jam

My name's Daniel, and I went to college. Everybody watch this commercial for a Nike sport shoe. There might be other commercials you want to watch, but if you watch them instead of the one I'm suggesting you'll be doing the wrong thing.

If you're at a place where you can't watch videos, I'll explain it. Marvin The Martian flies down to Earth to threaten professional basketball player Blakegriffin The Human's life (Blake's crime was performing a dunk that was so sick it was described by at least one doctor as "earth-shattering," and Marvin is furious because "earth-shattering" falls under his jurisdiction, and if you know anything about space law you know he has a pretty solid case).

Blake's friend intervenes and says that Blake deserves a chance to defend himself. Marvin agrees with the logic of this plea, and Blake chooses to settle things with a slam-dunk contest. A slam-dunk contest ensues, and it looks like Blake is going to lose out to Marvin's dope moves, which is unfortunate because he and the Clippers already lost this year and Blake could probably use some good news, and also because the penalty for losing is actual death. Then Bugs Bunny shows up and sells Blake some new shoes out of a truck, which Blake uses to make an amazing dunk, and then Bugs sets a series of events in motion that results in the near-total destruction of Mars.

Nike

As Cracked's foremost Space Jam Authority and Occasional Wearer Of Shoes, I obviously have a lot of issues.

We're going to dig into the commercial at hand in a minute, but I wanted to take a brief sidebar to discuss what I see as a very troubling relationship among the three boys watching Blake and his friend Dr. Drain play.

The boy in the red shirt ("Red Shirt") says to his friends, "I think that's Blake Griffin," while looking up close at a person who could ONLY be Blake Griffin (he has Blake's size, skin-tone, obvious basketball prowess, and the other male on the court loudly calls him "Shake Griffin" [and later "Quake Griffin" and "Steak Griffin"]). His one friend in the hoodie ("Hoodie") seems to consider this possibility, but their one friend with the hat ("Squidward") immediately dismisses this with a thoughtless, "Nah."

Nike
With eyes like that he'll make a great official someday.

I don't want to harp on this too much, but Squidward is never punished for doubting his friend. Squidward never even says, "Oh, you're right, that IS Blake; I'm sorry for dismissing you so rudely." Nothing. This could have been a teachable moment about hubris, and Nike let it slip away.

Instead, Blake does some rad moves, the skeptics are swayed, and we transition into the meat of the commercial, where a professional basketball player faces off against a faceless, tiny space monster in a slam-dunk contest. Squidward barely even checked to confirm if the basketball player was Blake Griffin; he had already decided that his friend Red Shirt was wrong, sight unseen. This speaks volumes about the toxicity of their friendship. I imagine that this isn't the first time Squidward's instincts drew him toward thinking Red Shirt was instantly wrong, and you can't have that in a friendship. You want your friends to support you. If Red Shirt is as good at evaluating his own self-worth as he is at identifying who in a given crowd might be Blake Griffin (which, based on the limited information with which we are presented, we have to assume is "very"), then he should exit this friendship and hook up with some people whose knee-jerk reactions don't involve putting him down.

Nike
"I think that's Blake Griffin."
"Saying stuff like that is why your dad's an alcoholic."

But back to the matter at hand and the reason you all called me here. This ad doesn't make any sense, because it starts off with two very problematic and canonically inconsistent assumptions: 1) Marvin The Martian is angry at Blake Griffin and by extension all human basketball-playing adults, and 2) Marvin The Martian is a top-notch dunker. THIS IS AN ISSUE. To understand why it's an issue, you need to understand Space Jam, a movie that pits the Monstars (a misguided alien race) against the Looney Tunes (and Michael Jordan) in a basketball contest. There is historical precedent, I'm saying, in the category of Looney Tune vs. Human High-Stakes Basketball. An important precedent that this commercial ignores. The most important thing to remember about Space Jam (as it pertains to this commercial) is that Marvin The Martian DID NOT PLAY. He was the referee.

Warner Bros.

This takes us to the problem(s). if Marvin is such a good basketball player, why wouldn't the Looney Tunes have drafted him in Space Jam? OR, if Marvin hated Earth-based basketball superstars so much, why wouldn't he work with the Monstars in Space Jam? Answering both of my own questions, it's because he's both a Looney Tune AND an alien, which explains why he was able to remain a fair and impartial referee in Space Jam; he has ties to both worlds and an equal-sized dog in both fights. Marvin The Martian would not choose a side according to the established Looney Tune continuum.

Warner Bros.
He's even letting Bugs go full Sprewell on Daffy without ejecting him.

This commercial was not made in a vacuum; it knows Space Jam exists and in fact trades on the goodwill established by that movie with a number of winks and nods to it throughout the commercial. It knows you liked Space Jam and it hopes that its tenuous relationship to this commercial will make you buy the product. If that thing I just said is true (and we have to assume it is), then why would the people behind this ad completely ignore the Marvin The Martian precedent set in Space Jam, a phenomenal family film that came out before 9/11?

I say this as a person who attended a midnight screening of Space Jam literally a week ago: I am upset. On the subject of respecting those that came before it (and paying attention to your own established continuity), this advertisement for shoes disappoints.

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Daniel O'Brien

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