But you’re rich, bitch!

In keeping with the start of the NBA season a spate of new TV commercials just dropped featuring two of the sport’s biggest stars: Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. D-Rose shills for Adidas while King James is rocking the new Galaxy phone from Samsung.

From the talent to the products, these are glossy, high-end films in every sense of the word.

Yet, I don’t love them. It’s hard to put my finger on why. Yes, I’m not a particularly huge NBA fan (even if I grew up during the Jordan-era Bulls), nor am I between 18 and 34 years old. Goes without saying I’m not African American. But given I make ads for a living I doubt my opinion about these campaigns has anything to do with targeting and demographics. I’m mostly impervious to that.

What bugs me about these commercials is the tension I feel as both athletes wrestle with being real and ridiculously rich and famous at the same time.

Rose’s script literally is about that tension. He says: “You can take away the money, the cars, etc…” Because Rose is such a likable young man (soft spoken, team player, loves his city, his mom, etc) he almost pulls it off. But in the end the spot comes dangerously close to coming off as a humblebrag on his part. ‘Even though I’ve got all this stuff none of it matters.’ Easy for you to say, D. I get that he’s talking about the life. I just can’t relate. Moreover, I don’t want to.

The issue I have with LeBron’s work is more conspicuous because he’s more conspicuous. James is by far the biggest star in the NBA, delivering back-to-back championships for his team in South Beach. With more undoubtedly to come. In addition to his gaudy stats, he is also infamous for his hubris-laden “decision” regarding where he was “taking his talents” and where he was taking them from.

KingJamesPoster
The king does not relate with commoners…

For a lot of people, LeBron James is still an anti-hero, one of those people you love to hate. Those people should probably get a life. Still, there is something preternatural about LeBron’s aura. And he made it that way. Which is why I just don’t buy this dad-in-the-driveway act. Are we to believe LeBron has a hoop over his garage? Come on. You know as well as I do he has a whole goddam basketball court in his house. Maybe two. While playing a regular guy chilling with his family may bring smiles to LeBron’s PR machine, I’m not there.

Don’t get me wrong. I think LeBron James has an awesome TV presence. When he’s King James or the old school version of himself or any number of other tongue-in-cheek characters he’s played so effectively. But an Everyman?

No.

Certain stars are just too f—king big. We may adore them. We may aspire to be them. But we can’t relate to them as neighbors or drinking buddies or anything so mundane. Like Tom Brady, Bono or Lady GaGa some stars should just stay stars. When they act “as if” it kind of pisses me off. Just saying…


“Relax, Frank. At least you’re not the middle child.

Let us compare two disparate groups of four: sports and monsters.

For the last hundred years America has had a love affair with four sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey. For most of those years it was in that order. I’m leaving out soccer but will come to it shortly.

There are four major monsters haunting these lands: Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves and Mummies. For most of the last 100 years it was in that order. I’m leaving out witches but will come to them shortly.

While baseball has long been considered America’s pastime, in the last 20 or so years the NFL has taken over, largely due to gambling and its colorful violence. While sports purists and old people still prefer baseball, most concede that football has passed by it like a 50-yard bomb from Tom Brady.

Ever since Bram Stoker penned Dracula, vampires have been the preferred undead, bolstered now by Twilight, True Blood and the Vampire Diaries, among others. Zombies, however, have shambled to the top of the heap, starting with George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead and all that it generated, including last years ugly-faced darling, The Walking Dead.


Monster of the Midway (not Dracula)

Zombies are the new vampires. Football is the new baseball. Agreed? Then let’s move on…

In a way (granted a very odd way) the NBA is like a pack of werewolves. Sleek, fast and cool but just not as popular as the others. Both have their rabid fans but the numbers just aren’t there. Werewolves and the NBA are like middle children.


B-ball and W-wolves…

An even odder comparison would be hockey and mummies. Hockey is the fastest sport and mummies are the slowest monsters. Clearly, The two have nothing in common. Except the glaring fact that compared to the other three in their respective categories, they fall miserably short. And yes, this is a popularity contest.

So: witches and soccer…

Soccer, or European football, is without a doubt, the biggest sport in the world. Yet in America it’s basically an activity for children. I prefaced this silly article by stating an American bias. And in the US of A, soccer is barely a stepchild to the Big 4.

Witches (yawn) are random, closer to fantasy than horror, at best a default costume for every other mom on Halloween. They are not scary. Of many proof points, take Marnie the witch on True Blood. In my opinion, she all but derailed the show. And then there’s Samantha. Bewitching yes but no monster.


Cute as hell but not from Hell.

I will withdraw my paragraph comparing boxing with dinosaurs, for they are both extinct. Mixed martial arts are having a nice run. Alas, I don’t have a monster corollary for them. Demons? Aliens? Rosie O’Donnell?

Why have I written this you may rightfully ask? Well, I love sports and I love monsters. And since popular culture would be sadly bereft without either, I decided to mash ‘em together, just for the fun of it. I hope you enjoyed the exercise as much as I did. If not, you’re either a witch or someone who gets up at 3AM to watch Real Madrid play Chelsea.

Editor’s note: I ignored Frankenstein for he is one-off like the Invisible Man or table tennis.

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