Oct 25, 2010

The refrain is, "should I be who you want me to be?" Certainly most teenagers would agree they don't want to be who their parents want them to be. Most Tea Party members don't want to be who party elders would prefer them to be. Rush Limbaugh would agree. This is the cry of the iconoclast. Ayan Rand would agree.

And after all, this is the era of I. Or my. Mine. Not yours.

Eventually, 'me' will give way to 'we', but not yet.

And isn't this exactly the point. Didn't the creators of this ad get the irony of the question? Or did they?

Or, was this merely a sophisticated if muddled attempt to rebrand James, to camouflage a terrible mistake and help Nike recoup a market.

Who knows. That's part of the new shtik and cynicism. Don't take a position. Be elusive, elastic. Be ready to adapt.

For me this ad makes the point exactly. This problem with Lebron James' decision to duck out on a city, and duck out on a personal challenge, is that the decision came down to i. The unarguable i. i, above all.

In fact, I is not necessarily more important than You, which in this ad has a pejorative sound. It's the genius of a 'creative director.' Of quick-cut logic and take-your-mind-off-the-ball visuals. That's what so interesting, and disheartening — the way the media has become a self-service pump that very few people understand how to operate. The ad is cast as an op- ed piece, a proud statement of identity. Of attitude. A defense of i, in the video-game language of images and bits of ideas.

But not a whole idea. Nothing is worked out here.

"Should I be who you want me to be?" Maybe. Sometimes. It depends.

Should a young drug addict or gangsta or kid criminal, or any criminal, regard the wishes of parents and society to be responsible? Yes. Absolutely. That's the least.

If you think about this enough, if you look at this a few times, you may hear the very genuine voice of a child named Lebron James. He really doesn't know the answer. He's never asked the question, himself.

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