I chose to look at an advertisement from Nike for their line of skateboard shoes. The commercial is an atypical commercial that would not normally be seen on television due to its length. It has been on youtube, where I first came across it about a year ago, it is also posted on the Nike website and has made its way through facebook amongst groups of skateboarders and various places all around the net. The advertisement is a reproduction of a music video from Ice Cube entitled, “Today was a Good Day” circa 1993, where the skateboarder Paul Rodriguez is now the main character. In the video we see a story of sorts that starts with Paul waking up and leaving home via skateboard down the sidewalk on a nice sunny day, we see his travels across Los Angeles and the stops he makes along the way to socialize with fellow skateboarders and to ride the terrain, park benches, stair rails, sidewalk curbs, etc. The video ends with a cameo of Ice Cube running over and breaking Paul’s skateboard with his lowrider. We then see Paul walking home in his Nike shoes carrying his broken skateboard, into the Los Angeles sunset still grinning over a good day even though his skateboard was destroyed.
The ideas that underlie this text are that of independence and freedom, being able to do what you want and where you want. This is shown with the main character riding around with a care free look on his face and a small grin. He’s enjoying the sunshine and letting the wind blow through his hair. He does not appear to be in a hurry to wherever he is going. The associations the text is trying to make is along line with the ideals that it is representing. It is associating skateboarding with the ideal that you will be free to move about the landscape, free from traffic or riding the bus or walking. Of course you will need Nike skateboard shoes to accomplish this but, interestingly; it’s not overly obvious in this text. This text puts more emphasis on skateboarding, which Nike does not make skateboards, they make shoes. The text is also associating hip hop music with skateboarding just in it itself, it’s a hip hop video re-created into a skateboard video. The text is also trying to associate that Paul Rodriguez rides for Nike. They want to make sure that his fans all know what shoes he rides with. It’s a popular custom, from my observation, that young people and old alike will buy products that a certain athlete or celebrity endorse, solely because they idolize that person and want to feel more on their level or feel more like them, or they may want to let everyone know they are a fan of that person. The text is representing a certain group of people solely, skateboarders. Male skateboarders. The effect this has is minimal really, the advertisement is meant for a certain group of people and it hits its target with a bullseye. However, female skateboarders are completely left out, possibly because their market share is very small, and majority of skateboard products, the most functional pieces, are unisex. The text exemplifies a description of pseudo-individuality, it gives me the impression that I can have a good day like that if I were to dust off my skateboard and go get a new pair of Nike skateboard shoes. My day and my day only, would be the good day.
I’m usually very conscious of the ideologies underlying the popular culture that I see every day, I always find myself rolling my eyes at an advertisement that seems to be saying “hey were talking to you!”, or I’m enjoying the comedy or camerawork of a good commercial without having to even listen to what they are selling. The academic look at popular culture has made me stop and think about how much I really like the way things are in our popular culture. I’m happy that large corporations exist and decide what most people buy and call our culture. I’m a film major that wants to make commercials for large advertising firms. Some of the readings I completely disagree with the “problems” in our popular culture, I’d be cool if things stay the way they are for the next 50 years so I can make a great living and retire nicely. Different ideologies have affected my life greatly; I always look at the ideals that are trying to be presented to giant groups of people and feel like I need to not be a part of it so that I can remain an individual and unique. It’s always made me feel like I was all by myself though and not really part of a community of others who shared the same interest. It’s affected the way I think about others, if I see someone who looks like a walking billboard of advertisements, I usually won’t want to converse with them and I will think poorly of them, I’ll think that they don’t know who they really are and I’ll only see them as a culmination of the ideals they are wearing or eating, or driving, etc. For me, the effects I think have been slightly negative, I’m a bit of a grump most of the time because I’m always so critical of how advertisements and films and music can change the way people act, talk, live solely because someone wanted to sell them something and they were duped into it.