Opinion: V’water in Bad ‘Situation’

It’s marginally better than Snooki’s spray-tan infomercial, but that’s not saying much.

I’ll state my bias right up front: I’m really depressed about the situation with The Situation and all the other muscled, waxed, tanorexic and gelled (or Bumpit-ed) cardboard “Guido” stereotypes on MTV’s hit reality show, The Jersey Shore. Really, could we just speed up the inevitable “famous for being famous” celebrity cycle? Perhaps one or two could appear on Dancing With the Stars, others might wrestle Tonya Harding and then all of them, busted, broken, with nary a French nail or bouffant hair in sight, can stagger into Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, never to be heard from again.

Because, for now, they are getting real endorsement deals, and it’s stinking up the airwaves. Take this spot, which ran on ESPN at the start of the Major League Baseball season, but has also shown up online. Watching it on YouTube, I thought it was a parody created for funnyordie.com.

Really, how could one commercial for Vitaminwater featuring David Wright of the Mets and The Situation be so wrong on so many levels? Let us count the ways. First of all, why would Wright, a guy who is paid millions of dollars for his skill set as a third baseman for the Mets, put himself in the position of being outdone by The Jersey Bore? In the face of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s faux hawk, rock-hard abs, smarmy confidence and aggressively opened armpits, Wright just fades from the screen.

The painful spot opens with Wright at a fake press conference, holding a bottle of Vitaminwater and explaining that for his comeback he’s trying to get more nutrients into his body. “And really,” he adds, very earnestly, “just trying to stay disciplined as far as getting into the gym and working on some situational training.”

And there’s the joke. The musical theme from Rocky plays in the background as the two are shown in slow-mo training together, doing sit-ups, bench presses, and having fun on a Slip ‘n Slide. The lyrics are “fighting hard now . . . it’s so hard now.” And with all the groaning, touching and sweating it could be a gay porn video. Wright actually smacks The Situation’s naked six-pack with a bat, many times. The Jersey Shore guy says “harder.”

Are they going for deadpan homoerotic crossover? I guess the bromance got to be too much, so The Sich calls in two bikinied babes, and they frolic in a kiddie pool, throwing Vitaminwater over their bodies. No hilarity ensues.
Before making the spot, Wright had trouble enough establishing an identity in the shadow of Yankee Derek Jeter. Wright never really established a memorable image, other than being squeaky clean, showing up for games and practices early, and buying a hot dog for charity on one episode of Celebrity Apprentice. The press used to make fun of him by calling him Frankie Muniz (the “middle” in Malcolm in the Middle). Wright the athlete is obviously smart enough to have become a shareholder in Vitaminwater, for which he collected a reported $20 million when Coke bought it.

This spot, however, is desperate, forced and ill conceived. Is Wright’s situation really so dire that he has to borrow interest from a guy known for his skills at tanning and doing laundry? For us, it’s just cruel and unusual punishment to watch. For the major leaguer, however, it’s downright humiliating.

Barbara Lippert is an Adweek columnist