There is a scene at the beginning of the third act of White House Down, in which Jamie Foxx, playing a mild-mannered President of the United States, goes berserk on a terrorist who had latched onto the President’s shoes, a pair of Air Jordans.
“Get. Yo. Hands. Off. My. Jordans,” screamed President Foxx as he kicks the terrorist in the face, each kick coinciding with a word.
No one who knows film would go into a screening of White House Down not expecting it to be ridiculous and stupid — after all, this film is directed by Roland Freaking Emmerich and also stars Channing Tatum as a cop who’s the last line of defense in the White House — but still, that scene of the President of the United States, who apparently wears a full suit with Air Jordans with regularity, making a big deal over his Jordans stood out.
I believe the scene was written with two intentions in mind. One, it’s meant to be funny. Two, the scene was meant to showt the President’s “blackness” — that though he is the leader of the free world, he’s still very much in touch with his roots. Grantland’s Pulitzer prize winning film critic also came to the same conclusion.
As I’ve written about here before, Air Jordans have long transcended being just a pair of basketball sneakers. It is a symbol of hip hop, a symbol of a minority “making it in America,” a symbol of greatness.
What this means is, people who are into Jordans are no longer necessarily fans of Michael Jordan, or even basketball. They might not play, they might not watch, and they sure as hell can’t name more than two or three of Jordan’s former teammates, but they like their Jordans anyway.
Last week, as I was sitting in an office finalizing the pages of the film section of a magazine for which I am Film Editor, the mag’s designer walked up to me and complimented on my shoes, the original Air Jordans. I struck up a conversation with him, because I am always up to talk NBA anytime anywhere, but it soon became apparent he doesn’t really watch the league. He just likes the Jordans, because they’re hip items featured on Milk magazine, because they go well with jeans.
On instagram, I often search for the hashtag Jordans or AirJordans for fun and I am noticing more and more young, fashionable Korean girls whose instagram is essentially all selfies and Jordans. Like this one. Or this one.
I’m intrigued by these chicks because, first: where do they get the money to own this many different pairs of Jordans? They 300 to 400 a pop! (104 WIT TAX!). Second, do they even watch basketball? Can they even name one of Jordan’s six NBA Finals opponent? How do these young Korean chicks, who probably don’t speak much English and weren’t born until Jordan’s final years, so in love with Jordans?
I reckon the answer is similar to my designer colleague: they like Jordans because of its image as street, and street is now “cool”.
I’m someone who grew to love Air Jordans organically — I like them because I am/was in awe of Jordan’s greatness on the court and because the significance of those shoes as the first minority brand in America and the symbol of early hip hop. I am not a sneakerhead, I don’t really care about hypebeast culture, and I only buy one pair every four to five years because they’re ridiculously overpriced.
Part of me love this, that everyone loves Jordans and NBA gear is considered cool — my flatmate, who styles celebrities for a Hong Kong magazine, recently styled a popular local young actor and, in an effort to make him look cool, my flatmate put the actor in my Brooklyn shirt. Not a version of my shirt, my actual shirt. Dude took it from my closet.
But then part of me, the snob part, is thinking — well, shit, you already know.
So, you like Jordans?