Ian MacKaye on D.I.Y. America: “I Don’t Know What the Fuck Any of This Is About”
Update 4:56 p.m.: WKE's Janice Grube, an executive producer of D.I.Y. America, just sent me this note about the episode that was taken down:
Yep, we pulled it down yesterday on a whim, as a courtesy to Ian, because we thought it was shitty that bloggers were giving him such a hard time about it. He has no affiliation with W+K or Nike. He’s a friend of Aaron’s. It’s footage from the Beautiful Loser’s film. DIY is produced and created by the Beautiful Losers team. Aaron is part of that team, and he is also WKE’s creative director and curator. WKE is totally independent from Nike or any of our clients. We created this channel, simply because we have an appreciation for art and culture and music. There you have it, dude. It’s really nothing more than that. We’re fortunate to have Aaron here with us here on the WKE team. Let’s move on and worry about bigger issues.
Original post: Earlier this week, I came across this post on the Daily Swarm, titled "Ian MacKaye Pimps for Nike's Ad Agency," and this item on Stereogum, "Ian MacKaye Gets DIY for Nike's Ad Agency." The gist is this: WKE—the film-production arm of the advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy—is showing a shorts series called D.I.Y. America that draws from unused footage from the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers. Several episodes of D.I.Y America focus on skateboarding culture, and one includes an interview with D.C. punk legend Ian MacKaye. Groovy, right? Not to some bloggers, who cried foul because one of Wieden+Kennedy's biggest clients is Nike—whom MacKaye threatened with legal action kinda threatened with legal action in 2005 after the apparel company appropriated the cover of Minor Threat's self-titled EP to promote a skateboarding tour.
I figured the original case of blogger umbrage was severely misplaced, but I decided yesterday to contact Mackaye to see what he thought. "I don't know what the fuck any of this is about," he told me over the phone, explaining that he allowed his friend, the director and artist Aaron Rose, to interview him several years ago for Beautiful Losers. Apparently, MacKaye explained, "I wasn't beautiful enough" for the final cut. He said my note was the first time he'd heard about D.I.Y. America, and that he felt it was an unnecessary story for bloggers—and me—to write about while wars are being fought abroad and people are dying. He said the pervasiveness of large corporations is such that it's impossible to completely avoid contact with the ones you disapprove of. And he said the bloggers wagging their fingers at his unknowing involvement in D.I.Y. America are likely bored office workers. "That's my curse and blessing," he said. "Some people look out for me."
Rose has been the creative director of WKE since 2009.
Once I saw the video was taken down, I sent messages to MacKaye, as well as WKE and Rose. I haven't heard back.