Davis did not win the contest last night but he had a decently good showing, and it was amusing enough to watch the spectacle unfold. I was not expecting, however, for my personal highlight of the broadcast to be a house ad, but that’s how ESPN got me.
In case you missed it, or haven’t watched the network in a while, the above screencap is from a commercial ostensibly promoting the ESPYs, which will air tomorrow. Pictured is one Adrian Peterson, who is nominated for some kind of Best Comeback award. He is wearing a football helmet which is purple (because AP is a Minnesota Viking) and which is topped with a wig in the distinctive hairstyle of everyone’s favorite X-Man, Wolverine. Which is amazing.
I get the upshot of the commercial, which is basically that AP had a devastating injury but has fully recovered from it (or fully enough to resume playing profesisonal football) and that kind of restoration of bodily soundness is remarkable in a manner reminiscent of Wolverine’s mutant healing factor. So the commercial makes a specific pop culture reference to underscore why comeback stories are inherently cool, and then ramps up the reference into humorous absurdity to make the spot that much more memorable. And I have no problem with this, as I’m certainly not the type of defensively territorial geek who thinks that putting Wolverine’s hair on a football helmet to promo the ESPYs is disrespectful in either the execution or the inherent premise. I liked the commercial, and I LOL’ed at it. But it also just kind of blows my mind.
I know I’ve said all this before, but I grew well into my arrested adolescence in a world where only hardcore comic book geeks even knew who Wolverine was. He didn’t exactly have the widespread recognition and/or appeal of Superman or Spider-Man or other Underoo-friendly characters. And I know the X-Men movie came out like 13 years ago and Hugh Jackman raised Wolverine’s profile immeasurably, but it’s still a little bit weird and wonderful that the character awareness has sunk in so deeply that even the crazy hairdo of said character is an independently recognizable thing.
Marvel Comics actually features several male characters with heads of hair in a similar mold as Wolverine (e.g. Quicksilver, Starfox, and the blue furry version of the Beast, to name a few) and my buddies and I have had entire conversations about this phenomenon of, as we like to call it, the “wingedy-thingedy” coiffure of extreme featheration. And I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for the ‘do, because honestly my own hair has been known to resemble it when it’s at approximately the halfway point between buzzed-short and Jesus-long. (It hasn’t been there in a while, granted, but the fondness persists.)
And now the wingedy-thingedy has been grafted onto a football helmet in an ESPYs commercial, which is just about as far on the opposite side of the nerd-jock divide as one can get. But apparently we are living in a post-nerd-jock-divide world! I just forget sometimes, and then I’m always delighted to be reminded.