In 2017, Supreme is the Adam Sandler of Streetwear

I think about Adam Sandler a lot. Not necessarily out of choice. A few years back I stumbled across a podcast by two Kiwi comedians, Tim Batt & Guy Montgomery, called ‘The Worst Idea of All Time’, in which they watched and reviewed Adam Sandler’s ‘Grown Ups 2’ once a week for a year. The podcast brought some good into my world — mainly the opportunity to listen to two bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Kiwis slowly descending into Happy Madison-induced psychosis — but also some bad. As a result of indulging so whole-heartedly into this podcast, listening through the series multiple times, my mind is awash with quotes from Grown Ups 2, conspiracy theories about Happy Madison’s accounting practices, and general thoughts about Adam Sandler.

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So it went when, earlier this week, my attention was drawn to what was allegedly a leaked image of a piece of clothing from an upcoming collaboration between New York skate brand Supreme and historic French fashion house Louis Vuitton. What appeared to be a t-shirt embossed with Louis Vuitton’s monogram in velour, interspersed with massive Supreme box logos at various angles. A few years ago you probably would have struggled to pinpoint how a collaboration like this would turn out; certainly, there’s elements of this suggested joint venture that take you by surprise. But really, this is just enough to stimulate your eyes for a few seconds, and then you realise that it’s everything you thought it would be, and nothing more.

And so it was, sitting at my desk today, that I thought of Adam Sandler.

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Like Supreme, Adam Sandler is an interesting character. A darling of Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, he came up alongside some of the comedy greats of that era, like David Spade, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers and Chris Rock. And then even if you haven’t actually watched any of his 90s films like Billy Madison or The Waterboy, you’ve surely heard from somebody about how great they were, right? How many incredible quotes are littered in every scene?

And if you have watched those films — if you, like so many people, grew up with Sandler — it’s impossible not to feel some sort of endearing sentiment when you think of him. Certainly, I haven’t watched a Sandler film (Grown Ups 2 excluded) since Mr. Deeds, and that was when I was maybe 11 years old, so regardless of the actual calibre of his filmmaking, my memory of Adam Sandler is unbreakably connected to 11-year old Gregk’s childish enjoyment of his films. Eric is pregnant! Mr. Penguin!

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And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Supreme.

Because, as I’ve said countless times before, I came into style and fashion through Supreme, with their unique way of presenting style; the idea that you can still just be a comfortable, normal guy but do it with a little bit more swagger than other people. And when I think back to some of those initial releases that caught my eye, they still seem great, even if I wouldn’t wear them today. And I know the history of the brand, and how it has permeated every corner of culture from punk and hip-hop, to film, to art, to literature, to technology and beyond. Supreme is littered with pop culture ephemera that represents the world I love, and I can’t help but feel some sort of fondness toward it. But then, as I’ve just said, I probably wouldn’t wear some of those favourites today.

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And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Adam Sandler.

I know, like everybody else, that Adam Sandler’s reputation, if not his box office take, has gone a bit awry in recent years. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in 2015, Sandler openly admitted he uses his films as an excuse to have a paid holiday, citing 50 First Dates as an example — originally set in Alaska, Sandler asked, “Why not Hawaii?” and got his wish. And sure, I’d be inclined to accept that maybe this was just Sandler telling a joke, but he hasn’t done that properly in fifteen years, so instead I’ll commend him for his honesty.

And Jesus Christ, if only it stopped at sheer conjecture and speculation, but during the epic Sony email hack/leak of 2014 there were countless emails between executives and producers discussing how Sandler is basically an asshole who provides minimal returns to the studio for the amount of money thrown at him, as well as the phenomenal admission by Sony Pictures Entertainment president Doug Belgrad that ‘you couldn’t fix what was really bothering him that he isn’t the guy he once was and nobody can make that better for him.’

I walk this lonely road, the only road that I have ever known. Don't know where it goes, but it's only me and I walk alone.

I walk this lonely road, the only road that I have ever known. Don’t know where it goes, but it’s only me and I walk alone.

In the podcast, something that Tim Batt regularly uses to describe Adam Sandler and the rest of the cast, extras, set dressers, editors and indeed director of Grown Ups 2 is the phrase, ‘mailing it in’; the idea that these guys are literally not even bothering to show up on set anymore, and basically doing the minimal amount of work required to get the job done, regardless of whether they are talented or capable enough to actually do better.

You only have to look at the cast of Grown Ups 2 (Sandler, Spade, Rock and Kevin James alongside the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Peter Dante, Jon Lovitz, Nick Swardson, Steve Buscemi and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, supported by an neverending list of even more pointless cameos) to know that this is basically an elaborate scheme, constructed by Sandler, to get as many of his mates paid for doing as little work as possible. Look through the extended cast on IMDB and you will find countless members of Sandler’s own family in the extras, including his wife and nephew. I literally would not be surprised to find out that the catering was provided by a shell company owned by Sandler or one of his clan. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick is in there, for God’s sake, and the kid cannot fucking act to save his life.

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Grown Ups 2 was filmed on a budget of 80 million dollars, and almost the entire film takes place in a Kmart. The closest thing you get to high-budget filmmaking is a CGI deer that kicks off the movie by pissing on a sleeping Adam Sandler’s face. I have no idea where that $80 million went, but you literally cannot see it on the screen.

And yet, aren’t all of Adam Sandler’s films simultaneously something new, and exactly what you’d expect? You don’t know what you’re going to see on the screen in detail, but you know it’s going to cost a lot, grab everybody’s attention for even a fleeting moment, and eventually turn into a massive disappointment — even more so if you actually went out and spent money going to see it.

And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Supreme.

Because increasingly I find myself faced with this strange cognitive dissonance, looking at each subsequent collaboration, each release, each announcement, and thinking how tired and predictable it seems to have become. Could I have predicted a collaboration with Supreme in 2017? No, but I couldn’t have predicted Grown Ups 2 either. But if you’d asked me what it would be like, I’d have told you that it would be shit. That velour Louis Vuitton sweater, emblazoned with what must be half a dozen unnecessary box logos, is exactly what Supreme is in 2017; a bloated, tired, overpaid, under-creative industry giant who’s practically begging their audience to just tell them to pack the fuck up and call it a day.

And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Adam Sandler.

Adam Sandler doesn’t make comedy films in 2017 because he’s a comedian. Adam Sandler makes comedy films in 2017 because he’s Adam Sandler, a guy that makes comedy blockbusters, because he’s Adam Sandler… a guy that makes comedy blockbusters. In his defence, a long time has passed from the days of him having to prove himself on SNL. Why should he even care if people think he’s funny or not? He’s already done more than enough to prove that. That’s why he’s not Adam Sandler the comedian anymore. He’s Adam Sandler, the guy that makes comedy blockbusters. But then one has to wonder why this complacency has taken such a firm grip of Adam Sandler.

This single, photoshopped image contains more plot and is more fun than the entirety of Grown Ups 2

This single, photoshopped image contains more plot and is more fun than the entirety of Grown Ups 2. Also, at no point in Grown Ups 2 do the characters drive go karts.

I guess it just reaches a point where, by virtue of being a guy that makes comedy blockbusters, you are confronted with the idea that it really doesn’t matter what you put up on the screen, you’re virtually guaranteed to smash the budget and make a profit. This is why Adam Sandler gets away with taking $80 million to make a film in a Kmart where virtually nothing happens; because that film then rakes in $240 million. Even if $79 million dollars of the studio’s money is going into some cavernous pit that eventually ends up in Sandler’s back pocket, that’s still $160 million profit in the end. So why should they care? If you want to know why so many talented comedians with great ideas get shafted by the industry while Adam Sandler signs a four-film deal with Netflix and tells the press that he decided to do it when he realised that Netflix rhymes with “wet chicks”, it’s because Adam Sandler makes way more money.

And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Supreme.

Because the Internet has been the greatest thing that ever happened to Supreme. It’s propelled their brand to every corner of the globe and turned their clandestine exclusivity into a global commodity. Now every kid in every town can be a part of that exclusive club. And they will throw money at it, no matter what. And Supreme has realised that, twenty years in, subtlety is a boring game.

Why take the time weaving nuance and class into your pieces when you can knock together a CAD by 11:30, call it lunch and go take some photos of Jason Dill smoking cigarettes in a squat flat and still make the same amount of money? Supreme is a brand that now simply is Supreme. It’s not a streetwear brand. It’s not the bridge between high and low fashion. It’s not the originator of downtown cool. It’s Supreme. And Supreme makes clothing that people will pay silly money for regardless of what it is or how it’s made. Because it’s Supreme, and Supreme make clothing that people will pay silly money for. And the online mags and blogs and Instagram influencers will post about it, and everyone will love or hate it, and the people who hate it will be confused, and the people who love it will throw all their money with reckless abandon and bathe in the lake of warm piss that is owning a piece of Supreme clothing that people were talking about for about one week.

And Supreme will take that money, and call all of its mates up and go hang out at a lake in Stanford, Connecticut whilst Shaquille O’Neal, dressed as a police officer, points a loaded gun at four legends of 90s comedy and tells them to ‘Put your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like you just don’t care’. And then Colin Quinn will climb up and slap his hands against an ice cream machine in such a way that it looks like he’s shitting everywhere. And David Spade will roll down a hill in a giant tire and Shaq will stop it with his groin. And all the women will be wearing push-up bras. But then I realise that, once upon a time, I too enjoyed throwing my money at things like that, and maybe this is just growing up. Maybe Supreme hasn’t changed at all; maybe I have.

And so it is, sitting here at my desk, that I think of Adam Sandler.

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