accessibility · advertising · gender policing

Dream Bigger, not “Crazier” Please Nike

We haven’t shared the new Nike women’s sports ad on the blog–much as we love almost all of it–because we’ve been nervous about the “crazy talk.” The “Dream Crazier” ad for the “Just Do It” campaign features women throughout history breaking down barriers in sports. The commercial, narrated by Serena Williams and featuring an all-female cast, shows women in sports ranging from running to tennis to boxing being celebrated for their passion. And that’s terrific, right? Mostly yes but it’s complicated.

The ad lists the ways in which women have been called crazy for wanting to participate in sports. It’s a long list. But instead of criticizing the use of crazy-talk as ableist the ad tries to take back the language of “crazy.” It urges women to be crazier.

Sometimes reclaiming language is a good thing but I am not sure it works here. Why? See my older post Let’s Stop the Crazy Talk .

It’s time to end the “crazy” talk. Why? It’s ableist. See the following, social justice and ableism.

“Disability metaphors abound in our culture, and they exist almost entirely as pejoratives. You see something wrong? Compare it to a disabled body or mind: Paralyzed. Lame. Crippled. Schizophrenic. Diseased. Sick. Want to launch an insult? The words are seemingly endless: Deaf. Dumb. Blind. Idiot. Moron. Imbecile. Crazy. Insane. Retard. Lunatic. Psycho. Spaz.

I see these terms everywhere: in comment threads on major news stories, on social justice sites, in everyday speech. These words seem so “natural” to people that they go uncorrected a great deal of the time. I tend to remark on this kind of speech wherever I see it. In some very rare places, my critique is welcome. In most places, it is not.”

What do you think of the ad? Of using “crazy” as metaphor?

5 thoughts on “Dream Bigger, not “Crazier” Please Nike

  1. Crazy feels like a word of a different quality than the rest in your list, which are always perjorative. Crazy has a playful, outlandish, exuberant side to it too. So, I’m quite taken by the new Nike ad. I know it’s delicate, given the long history of relegating women to yellow wallpapered rooms as hysterics, But this word feels like one with reclamation potential.

    1. This is where I land as well. The ad had a very powerful reclaiming vibe to it.

  2. I hate “crazy” talk and never use it. I think it’s ableist and I can’t stand the campaign because of it.

  3. I understand Tracy’s viewpoint, but to be honest when I watched it I took their intention in using ‘cray’ as the dictionary definition of “distracted with desire or excitement.” Crazy is not a word I would use ever to describe someone’s mind or mental health.

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