Videogum

Everything About This Nike Video Is A Terrible Fucking Lie

Gabe Delahaye | April 10, 2012 - 2:45 pm

By now, you have probably seen the video that Casey Niestat either did or did not make for Nike in which he supposedly squanders his entire budget to go on a trip around the world with his friend Max because fuck it, right? Fuck it! Nike: Just Fuck It! The video came out yesterday, and many very popular and otherwise intelligent blogs and websites that you probably read and rely on for informative takes on the world around us have been reposting it as some kind of Tuesdays with Morrie-esque example of how we should all be living our lives. (If you haven’t seen it, I’ve begrudgingly posted it after the jump despite how much I hate it, so that we all have the same frame of reference for the related discussion.) Mainly, there are two problems with this video:

1. It’s really bad. Like, it’s a bad video.
2. Everything about it is a big fucking disingenuous lie.

First, the video, then, let’s talk about it because we’re all going to die one day:

About this video being bad: what do you want me to tell you? It’s not good! For one thing it’s just straight up boring. And if Casey Niestat is going to constantly turn the camera on himself can he at least have something funny/interesting/ANYTHING to say? And so it begins! Hush up. You didn’t even say it in a cool voice! Moreover, it’s just straight up derivative. Conceptually, this is that Dave Eggers book from 2002, You Shall Know Our Velocity. Visually, it’s those “Where The Hell Is Matt?” videos, which I’m also not a huge fan of, but at least those were a) novel, and b) rather hypnotic and somewhat enjoyable to watch. They also express one person’s determination to visit places, and express himself through movement. They capture SOMETHING at least, some vague, ill-defined but ostensibly “pleasurable” worldview. In this, sometimes Casey is just running without explanation. What’s the running for? To create dynamism and energy, I guess (see also: NIKE, which we will get back to in a second) but it’s not actually earned. Like, if you’re going to go until the money runs out, but you don’t have any kind of time pressure or expectation for how long you need to make the money last, then what’s with the running? Take your time. Many people never get to travel to any of these places, and you’re not even paying attention. You arrived in Paris and left the next morning? Why? That’s not an adventure, that’s just exhausting. Maybe he created ground rules for the trip, like that they couldn’t stay one place more than 24 hours, but those ground rules are not shared with us, and so it’s just hectic, disorienting, and completely pointless.

About this video being a fucking lie: for one thing, THIS IS STILL A VIRAL VIDEO MARKETING STUNT FOR NIKE. That’s fine. That in and of itself is not a problem. How else are we going to remember to buy their shoes? But the bullshit, high-minded, up its own ass idea that somehow this video is MORE IMPORTANT than a marketing stunt is both false and rude. Hey, guess what: we have no way of knowing that this video isn’t EXACTLY what Casey Niestat pitched to Nike. He says that this probably isn’t what they have in mind, but it’s not clear why. He never says what the original pitch was, and this video is pretty consistent with his other work. Moreover, the video begins with a Nike bump at the beginning, everyone who posts it makes plenty of reference to Nike, and by all accounts this reinforces the Nike brand of getting out there and doing stuff. This video reeks of Nike Branding Opportunities. (See: all the pointless running.) This isn’t a viral video for fucking Absolut Vodka where it’s just impossible because anyone drinking that much vodka wouldn’t be able to run through Cairo so fast (although it might explain the sweaty t-shirt).

So, that’s the over-arching surface lie, which is a big one. But there’s an even more disgusting and insidious one underlying the video’s message: that the rest of us our living our lives wrong because we didn’t GET A FREE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD. Casey Niestat didn’t sell his belongings or quit his job or do any of the risky and potentially devastating and mildly irresponsible things that most people would have to do in order to afford a free, aimless, whirlwind trip around the world. It was handed to him. He was PAID to do it. So, yeah, sure, it seems fun enough, who wouldn’t want to do something like that and really live life to the fullest? That’s not the problem. The problem is that you can be handed $50,000 (I don’t know how much Nike paid, but that’s actually a pretty low budget for any kind of advertising content for a company of their caliber) and it can RUN OUT IN 10 DAYS. No amount of platitudes from Helen Keller is going to change that. This extends to most of the upper-middle-class-dripping-with-entitlement advice doled out by well-to-do white people about how to better live one’s life. It always ends by telling people not to work so hard, and to balance ambition with love and family, and to “get outside more.” All of which is fine, I guess, but these suggestions begin with two unspoken but much more difficult steps to accomplish: Step one: be white. Step two: be rich. Sure. Thanks! I’m saying all of this as an UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS WHITE PERSON. When the revolution comes, I should be in the first round of public executions, and my only hope is that the rabble spare me because I’m “fun at dinner parties.”

Everyone likes cool stuff and exciting adventure, OK? If you’re lucky enough to get even just a little of that in this lifetime, count your blessings. And keep your mouth fucking shut. Because you didn’t get it because you were better or smarter or more enthusiastic or courageous. You certainly don’t deserve it. No one deserves anything. And there’s nothing fucking courageous about making a goddamned Nike commercial. No, you got it because you won a lottery in the endless series of lotteries that make up the human experience until you finally lose a lottery and we bury your smelly ticket in the ground. So, if Nike pays you to make an advertisement for them, do it! Make it! But don’t pretend like you didn’t make it when you clearly made it. And don’t act like you’re some kind of folk hero because you’re not. You’re not even a Don Draper. You’re just an asshole with a FlipCam, a pocket full of cash, and a head full of lies disguised as enlightenment. BUY MORE REEBOK.