On Behalf of Pottery, a Response to ESPN

17Jan08

Dear ESPN, we wanted to take a few seconds to let you know how much we hate your pottery-themed ad campaign. It might not even be running anymore; we first saw it in the back of a cab two months ago, or maybe it was even longer than that, but we saw it again last week and it all came flooding back. Sometimes we see things that make us so angry that we really don’t even know how to wrap our minds around it until enough time passes.

But we remember now; the first time we saw it was on Halloween weekend. We were coming back from that dive bar that used to be called “Saints” — on Amsterdam and 109th, near Columbia — but which has since had a sleazy makeover and, incredibly enough, is even more of a dive than ever. That night they had the worst drag queen in New York City; she went on at midnight and even though she was lipsyncing you would have sworn it was the first time she had ever heard the song because there wasn’t even the semblance of a “routine” and she clearly didn’t know any of the words. But we weren’t looking for perfection; it was Halloween and half the people were dressed up as freaks and aliens, which made us wish that every weekend could be like that, because even in the city, sometimes you need to see something really different for a change. Not that you, ESPN, would know anything about that.

So we’re in the cab and completely amazed by the new credit-card machines (and still a bit drunk) when your spot comes up on the monitor and we see all the usual ESPN meatheads from “Sunday NFL Countdown.” The set is a replica of one of those ridiculous pre-game “studios” with the desk and bad carpet everywhere and the large screen television, except the backdrop features pottery and shelving, similar to what you’d see in a real pottery studio; the next thing we know Chris Berman is like: “We’re back with breaking news about clay and a huge stoneware show down in Seattle,” before he turns it over to Mike Ditka, who despite possessing a single-digit IQ somehow manages, “the entire pottery community is gonna be watchin’ this one,” before it cuts back to Berman, who asks: “What can we look forward to as we jolly around the wheel?” as the background monitor superimposes this loathsome phrase — in a very “girly” 1970s font — over an image of a spinning pot. (As if any potter in the history of the universe has ever used the phrase, “jolly around the wheel.”) So then we’re taken to a couple of field correspondents who are actually sitting at a wheel — one mutters something about “guilds” — and then another at a kiln who promises a “special update” on slip-casting techniques before a final one promises to give us “glaze of the week” — again we see this written in that same girly font — at which point, ESPN, you jump in and deliver the smackdown: “LUCKY FOR US, THEY CHOSE FOOTBALL.”

Which brings us to our response on behalf of pottery: Fuck you, ESPN, for not only implying that football is somehow “better” than pottery, but for implying that pottery is “wussier” or “girlier” than football, which is a real man’s world untainted by aesthetic choices about glazes and clays and form, i.e., all that art shit. Look, we understand that you only meant to “joke around,” and we should stop being so “sensitive,” but fuck you anyway, ESPN, because we’re not stupid, we get the real joke, which is that from where you stand, pottery is “gay” — just like fashion and opera and hairdressing and the publishing industry (if not very many of the books, sadly) — and so like the schoolyard bully you think it’s hilarious to prance around like a little queen for a few seconds, mocking and taunting, before you punch him in the gut; his ambivalence makes you angry, doesn’t it, ESPN, because it strikes at the core of what’s most important to you, which is that everyone in the whole fucking world should be just like you, mean and angry and vicious; anything less is for girls and faggots.

As for us, ESPN — in case you’re wondering — we won’t be watching any professional sports, especially on your stupid station (not that the others are any better). Who’s in the playoffs? Who cares? Who’s in the Super Bowl? Who cares? We don’t, that’s for sure. And just to be clear, ESPN, we’re not interested in censoring you or seeking any kind of “apology”; we believe in free speech as a rule — even when we find it insulting — and this is no exception. So advertise away to your idiotic fans, ESPN, but rest assured we won’t ever be among them. We’d rather look at a single piece of pottery for ten days than watch ten minutes of your self-aggrandizing macho bullshit.

Wanna see the ad? Click here.

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