The Super Bowl as a Cultural Strep Test

I do think the Super Bowl has become the 3rd most significant event on the US calendar. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Super Bowl are pretty much the only 3 times a year everybody is doing and watching the same thing.

The Super Bowl is unique of them all in that it is the only one that really gives the world a fairly unvarnished look at our culture…and this year it wasn’t pretty. Let me break it down for you — (cue LL Cool J)

Pre-Game
Did you get enough of the words “redemptive” and “Ben Roethlisberger?” If the Steelers had won, it would NOT have meant anything in regards to the redemption of Big Ben. Let’s bring this topic up in a few years and have more than just 10 months of evidence to go on. If Big Ben has gotten his life turned around, found God, got a girlfriend — great. Proof will be shown over course of time. Not because he’s won another Super Bowl.

Commercials
Overall, they are just getting more and more crass. I realize this makes me sound like an old fuddy-duddy but I just don’t find cans of soda shot at a man’s groin funny. Or a valentine card commenting on a woman’s chest funny. Or Joan Rivers… I was debating which should I do when I saw the Joan Rivers/Go Daddy ad – throw up or poke me eyes out with an ice pick. Speaking of which – Jillian Michaels and Faith Hill took a huge dive in my respect category after those ads. And even Eminem as a cartoon was intense. Good to see ole’ Jim Shady has even gone corporate with Sprite and Chrysler.

But it wasn’t all bad. VW hit it out of the park with their two ads – Darth Vader and the Beetle. Doritos continued their brilliance giving us one of the most awkward, uncomfortable moments in commercial history – licking the fingers of another man.

Entertainment
Is it too much to ask our entertainers who are already completely out of touch with the rest of America, to at least know the words of our national anthem? How about just for the sake of professionalism? It’s a song, it has words, if you are going to sing the song — know the words. Not hard.

Black Eye Peas — pretty much lame city. Great first song then crashed from there. Slash provided a glimpse of hope but then it faded. Usher then helped and made us all wonder why didn’t he do the whole show? It’s a shame, too. But once again — style seemed to trumped substance once again.

Fox Coverage of Game
At first I thought it was going to be the worse coverage of a Super Bowl I’d ever seen. I don’t want to see A Rod and Cameron Diaz feeding each other popcorn. I don’t care if Madden is texting right next to President Bush. Don’t really see how John Travolta added anything to the game. The first quarter seemed to spend more time on star watching than the game.

Then all of a sudden it was like the producer remembered that this is first and foremost a football game. And it got much better from the 2nd quarter on. Even though they missed a few key replays and a penalty, very nice recovery and finish.

What Am I Trying To Say?
I’m saying that the coverage and spectacle of the Super Bowl gives us a deeper insight into our culture. Some of it is disturbing, some of it isn’t. But the messages aren’t neutral, they never are neutral.

Now to travel the sports equivalent of Purgatory until football cranks back up again…

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