I was watching the NBA Finals last night. Or, at least, I was attempting to watch them. ESPN was unconcerned with my ability to watch the fucking game and much more interested in running 17 different introductory segments to the game. This is what ESPN always does. They run a dramatic intro to the game, then they cut to Wilbon sitting at the pregame desk sniffing his own farts, then they run another intro, and then back to the pregame desk, and so on and so forth. You feel like you've been dropped into some kind of eternal time loop where the game will NEVER begin. Every time they ran an intro and then cut to Wilbon and Magic and Jon Barry and Other Guy, I felt so defeated. It was like sitting at a bus station waiting to be picked up and seeing 50 cars pass by that look like your dad's but aren't.
Now, ESPN does their very best to appear as if you're getting closer to actual gameplay, which is why they run all kinds of different introductions. Here are some typical examples:
• Famous person from one team's city talking about that city and what people are like in that city and how hard people work in that city even if people from Pittsburgh are as lazy as they come
• Black and white footage of both teams playing with stern voiceover talking like he's God and shit. ONE GAME WILL DETERMINE EVERYTHING.
• Old players who have won a championship talking about what it's like to win a championship (SPOILER ALERT: It feels great!)
• Fast montage of LeBron's failures
• Slow montage of fans from each city looking real serious on camera. Bonus points if they're wearing hard hats
• Highlights of each team spliced together with footage from a GM assembly line (NFL games only)
• Highlights of each team scored to Gotye remix
• Something retarded with Kenny Mayne
And on and on and on. ESPN has infinite ways to waste your time and make you want burn Bristol down to the ground, but here is the single most annoying thing they do: the game-movie cross-promotion.
Last night, as part of Intro #47, they spliced together Heat and Thunder footage with scenes from The Amazing Spider Man. Now, ESPN does this obviously because Disney owns both Marvel and ESPN*, and so someone at Disney stood up and was like, "You two! Have cross-promotional buttsex." And they did.
But no one at Disney or Marvel or ESPN stopped for one second to sit down and really think about whether or not this kind of promotion makes ANY fucking sense. They just jammed that shit together and expected you, the viewer, to take it like the brainless moron that you are. You're supposed to be so inured to this kind of stupidity now that you'll go along with anything ESPN does. But that's crap. Spiderman has NOTHING to do with the NBA Finals. And the worst part is that ESPN always does this. If there's some fucking Disney movie coming out, they just happily mash together a trailer and a game intro and expect it to make sense when it doesn't. Then you watch it and you're like, "Oh hey cool, an ad for Spiderman. Oh no, wait the game is starting. Oh wait, there's Spiderman again. Wait, what the fuck is going on?"
It's brain dead. It's autodrone marketing at its fucking worst. When you watch Breaking Bad, you don't expect them to splice footage from That's My Boy into the opening credits. If they did, you'd burn down AMC headquarters. So what the fuck is Spiderman doing there 10 minutes before tipoff?
And it doesn't end once the game starts. Five minutes in, there was a Coors Light-Prometheus ad that tried to be all fucking serious about the Coors Light pint bottle. WE THIRST FOR KNOWLDGE AND SHIT. Fuck you, Coors Light. Your shitty beer has nothing to do with Ridley Scott's vision of alien life and its role in the creation of mankind. When James Bond appears in a BMW ad and drives around in a BMW in a movie, that makes sense. That's a logical product tie-in. But no one in Prometheus is drinking Coors Light. Idris Elba isn't like, "My God, we may have found the key to human civilization. But first, let me CRUSH a few ice cold Coors Light pint bottles, bro." That's fucking stupid. That's not a logical product tie-in. And neither is a half-assed Spiderman trailer appearing during an NBA telecast, unless Andrew Garfield is playing small forward for the Thunder.
If ESPN gave anything resembling a shit about you, the viewer, they would have ONE introduction to the game. It would feature sepia-toned footage of both teams, have some kickass Wagner playing in the background, and maybe deploy an ominous v/o for two minutes. And then it would go directly to tipoff. No fucking BONUS pregame show shit. No ads. No introductions to the introductions. Just one intro, WITHOUT fucking Spiderman, and then basketball. But ESPN will never do this, because they're ESPN, and they're fucking horrible.
*UPDATE: Reader Ryan reminded me that Sony owns the rights to Spiderman despite his being a Marvel character, which makes an ESPN cross promo even more pointless and dumb.