Is Colin Kaepernick The Most Popular Figure Right Now? Ask Nike

The news is a broad term for the medium of presenting the latest happenings from around the world, however, this medium has not actually been in use since early October 1996. Instead what we all do now is watch The News™, which is very different, isn’t it? It is more of a dramatic flashing soap opera necrotizing fasciitis interlaced with commercials to ensure corporate entities get the chance to tell you which products you should be buying during your own self-inflicted demise.

It is for this reason that I stopped watching, listening or reading The News™ around 3 months ago. In the same way that Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves realised that there is only so long, they can stay on a speeding bus loaded with explosives before it has an adverse effect on their health, I too felt DA NewZ! (COMIN AT YA LIVE! RIGHT AFTER THIS) was catastrophic for my mental wellbeing.

I did allow myself the pleasure of sports news though, something which still has some resemblance to reality – Tottenham lost to Watford at the weekend, oh my, an actual fact, how delightful. Unfortunately, though, there can be… leakage; where a ‘normal’ news story finds its way to the back pages.

This week it was in the sports news that the sports goods company, Nike, has signed a deal with Colin Kaepernick to front their new ‘Just Do it’ campaign. For those just returning from their 18 months round trip to Mars, Colin Kaepernick is the former American football player who kneeled during a song in protest at racial injustices in his home country – the United States of America.

This is bad. Apparently?

That is because these particular longitudinal waves that Colin decided to kneel during form to make the sound of a song called the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. Also known as a noise with no intrinsic value whatsoever that has been laced with arbitrary meaning, which has been subsequently projected onto impressionable children since birth to the point where it has become more important to them than actual living things the American national anthem.

The world* is outraged that a corporate dictatorship operating in a land with almost no legal consequence for morally dubious behaviour would pay an athlete lots of money to have his picture taken. Admittedly the only article I read on this subject was (impressively) able to extrapolate a broad sense of world disapproval from just 883 tweets on the topic. Simultaneously providing crucial social dynamic commentary and breaking decades of statistical drawbacks when dealing with a small dataset – canny.

Since this deal was announced we have had what can only be described as raw fury with people burning socks and promising to never buy Nike sports goods ever again. And whilst there is definitely something to be admired by people burning items of clothing in support of racial injustice, it is an interesting method to use none the less. Historically you knew where you stood with racial injustice supporters because they were kind enough to wear bedsheets and murder black people, now you have to check labels and read their tweets.

I jest, I jest. They, of course, have the freedom to show their displeasure with Nike, it is definitely not a free country after all. And yes, not all of them are supporters of racial injustice some of them just don’t like the idea wearing certain socks after a black man kneeled when some noise came out of a speaker – come on guys you’re being ridiculous this is all normal behaviour. How couldn’t that offend every fibre in your body?

There is a need for a commercial intermission here – I mean this is The News™ after all. And today’s sponsor is none of other than Nike, here to give us a little insight into company practices:

  • In the 1970s Nike closed several sweatshops in Taiwan, China and Vietnam because the countries introduced employment laws that meant Nike would have to pay fair wages, give breaks and not employ children. Annoying!
  • Because of this they now intentionally select locations where labour unions are prohibited to ensure workers cannot gain access to any basic human or workers rights.
  • In the 1980s and 90s, Nike changed tact and subcontracted its factory workers. This meant they could claim they are no longer responsible for the welfare of all of its workers, but continued to only subcontracted in places that fit the above criteria.
  • More recently reports from their sweatshops in Jakarta state that employees were beaten and abused.
  • In a study of Indonesian female sweatshop workers over 1,500 made claims of physical sexual abuse.
  • Nike has a long history of tax evasion with its money flowing through the Netherlands and Bermuda to ensure they don’t pay any taxes on the profits they make off of the exploitation of workers around the world.

Thanks for that Nike – that concludes today’s commercial.

Last week the white nationalist supremacists Nike sock burners would pull on those socks with pride – ah, yes, who doesn’t love the comfortable feel of a freshly produced sweatshop garment laden with untold sexual abuses and tax evasion. But not a week later that ignorant capitalist utopia was shattered with the appearance of a black man on a poster; a black man who kneeled at a football game no less (and has now been blacklisted from working in his industry at the request of the president of his country).

Speaking of the president, I noticed that he did say it was difficult to watch American Football now due to all the peaceful silent protesting. So much so he has had to ask his staff to set up a large projector in the Oval Office to play the Rodney King police beating on repeat while he masturbates into a Nike sock – not before putting the receipt for the sock purchase in his top draw so he can claim it back later as a tax-deductible item, obviously.

There are many reasons not to buy Nike sports goods; Colin Kaepernick is not one of them. If you live in a world where sexual abuse, cheap socks and child labour are OK but a man peacefully protesting against what he sees as racial injustice then I pity you. When symbols are treated with more dignity than humans we have an issue.

Patriotism can look like anything we want. It could mean we care so much about our country we want every citizen to have a home, to have enough food, to be safe from abuse, to have access to education and healthcare. Or it can be to sing songs at material flapping in the wind and crucify people who believe the above rights are more important than the song or the flag.

A song is a song is a song. A flag is a flag is a flag. People are real.

Paul Green

*America (they’ve yet to realise America and ‘The World’ are not interchangeable).

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13 Comments

  1. unironedman

    Ha, ha, splendid as always. Though to be fair to Colin, you say he is a ‘former’ footballer. I think he is still under contract, but is on a long-term suspension for his blatant disregard for the anthem. One of the first men I can think of who took a stand by kneeling down, anyway. Good for him.

    As for Nike. Yeah, you nailed that one too. I gather Pheidippedes (he of Marathon fame) shouted ‘Nike’ (meaning ‘victory’) before promptly falling down dead in Athens. So clearly, Nike is bad for your health, and always has been.

    Liked by 3 people

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