I’m not sure I’ve ever been more depressed about the state of the American union than after watching yesterday’s Super Bowl.
I mean, even in its best years, the Super Bowl is an excuse to trot out jingoistic, patriotic propaganda, and for Corporate America to pretend it’s a force for good. But this year? This year was just too much. This year was THE WORST.
I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess with the pregame ceremony, in which Roger Goodell and Colin Powell read the Declaration of Independence to us for some reason?
Because of how it’s Ronald Reagan’s birthday, maybe? Or maybe the NFL just thought we had all forgotten about the Declaration of Independence and took it upon themselves to remind us that it’s important? And thank God the NFL knows that the Declaration of Independence is MUCH more powerful when it’s read to us by DeMarcus Ware, and also some dude in front of a John Deere tractor; because if they didn’t know that, who would? And hey, look, it’s the Golden Gate Bridge! Amber waves of grain! Oh my God, I’m going to have an America-gasm.
Luckily, in case the clip above didn’t fully illustrate that the NFL and America are basically the same thing, Michael Douglas came around a little later to remind us.
Hi, Bono! Do you guys remember when, after 9/11, Bono reminded us that it’s OK to hope again at halftime of the Super Bowl? Or was it that Rudy Giuliani reminded us that it was OK to laugh again? I can’t remember.
Why, why, why must the Super Bowl be inexorably linked to 9/11, war and our worst patriotic instincts? Why must we endure the national anthem AND America the Beautiful? What does a terrorist crashing planes into buildings have to do with a rapist throwing a key interception? Nothing. But the NFL has wrapped itself in the flag tighter than Sarah Palin could ever dream of, and uses allusions to all things USA as cheap association marketing. We love America, so we love football. We love football, so we love America. Gross.
This is one of the reasons I can never truly get behind the NFL in the same way that I can baseball. Although MLB pulls this same crap a lot of the time, they do it in a less oppressive, less aggressive way. There’s something decidedly red-state about the way the NFL packages itself, and it makes me queasy.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the Super Bowl. The games have been good the last decade or so, and it’s a fun excuse to get drunk and eat a lot, but it’s not a national holiday. It’s not the fourth of July. Stop treating it as such.
Anyway, the bullshit patriotism was only one of several things that made the Super Bowl telecast a disgrace (and I’m not even including Joe Buck in this list). Let’s talk about the halftime show, shall we?
/indecipherable wail of agony
With all respect to the list Stereogum compiled last week, this was far and away the worst Super Bowl halftime show of all time. Worse than Up With People. Worse than the Indiana Jones stunt show. Worse than Britney Spears. Worse than anything. This was the worst thing of our lives.
The Black-Eyed Peas, in all their corporate, prefab glory, managed to kill “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” It’s dead. We can’t enjoy it anymore. Then, they managed to kill Dirty Dancing. I hope there’s no afterlife, because I don’t want Patrick Swayze to have been exposed to that in any form.
The Black-Eyed Peas are a fucking disgrace. Let’s move on…
…to the commercials!
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is persuading us that Super Bowl ads are an event. That we need to watch the commercials online before they air. That we need to rank them to see which advertisement America loved best.
A handful of truly inspired commercials (still commercials, though, mind you) in the ’80s and ’90s — the famous Mac ad, the Michael J. Fox Pepsi ad — have fooled us into thinking that Super Bowl commercials are somehow special and more worthy than regular commercials. They are not.
The ads have grown more pandering and base over the years, to the point that in 2011 we’re basically looking at ads featuring cute animals, cute toddlers and kick-to-the-crotch slapstick comedy. Of the USA Today Ad Meter’s top ten ads from last night, five feature animals, one features an adorable tyke, and one features slapstick comedy (including a pie to the face). The other three are simply dumb (another recurring theme). And there are plenty more of all three tropes further down the list.
And people really do love this nonsense. I watched the game among 20- and 30-somethings in a bar in Chicago, a metropolitan, liberal-leaning city, and people think this shit is hilarious. They love it when babies talk, when guys get hit in the balls, and when Adam Sandler uses funny voices. Patrons of this particular bar cracked up consistently and often.
The combination of everything involved in this spectacle: the rah-rah American bullshit, the commercials, the “music,” and yes, Joe Buck, conspired to make me wake up today loathing humanity. Even though I managed to successfully avoid 99% of the pre-game hype these last two weeks, after having this putrid witches’ brew shoved down our throats last night, I’m fucking ready for baseball season.