Some time in the past several weeks, a meeting occurred in the offices of the Cleveland Cavaliers that went something like this: “Hey, did you guys see that really funny Dirty Dancing insurance commercial? Here, let me Google it up on my smartphone.”
“We should totally do something like that!”
So far, so good, but then, they decided to make the central gag one in which the woman (now a young, pretty, slightly spastic blonde) goes in for the big move, and the man (now a hipster-bearded, psycho-eyed Cavs fan) is so taken aback by her Chicago Bulls t-shirt that he throws her across the room. Now, if I’m in that meeting, domestic violence might not be the first thing to pop into my head, given the slapstick setup and the source material. You could see how something like that could slip through.
The resulting video, however, appears to have been produced with the added instruction to make sure the domestic violence angle was unmistakable, or as they say in the biz, to hang a lantern on it. Make sure the guy walks away in disgust while we show her writhing in agony on the floor, then finish it off with the bitch learning her lesson. And he only had to tell her once! The video was then played on the scoreboard during Wednesday night’s NBA playoff game between the Cavs and the Bulls:
Announcer: Don’t make the same mistake she made!
He: I thought you were all in!
She: Well, I’m all in now! Let’s just watch the game!
Here’s how indefensible this video is: When I first heard about it, I thought I would be clever to satirize the backlash-against-the-backlash hot takes that always emerge after something like this, but no matter how horrible a satirical voice I tried on, I literally could not make it work. Maybe there’s some guy on an MRA website wondering if anyone would have complained if the woman had thrown the dude, but even that guy would have had a problem with the way they confusingly reversed the angle in the money shot.
It begs the obvious question of how this video, for which the Cavaliers have already apologized, made it through meetings and filming, and all the way to the Cavs’ scoreboard. Less obviously, though, it makes me wonder if things were different, if someone showed up and started shooting at people because of this video, if it would instantly become an essential form of protest to make videos depicting violence against women. I’m not talking about socially redemptive depictions like The Accused, but just depictions for the sake of depictions. If there’s any good news in all of this, it’s that woman-beaters everywhere are just a few gunshots away from being First Amendment crusaders.