I have seen every single Superbowl ever played, going back to Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.
I remember quite well the empty seats in the Los Angeles Coliseum. And believe me, Madonna was perfect for this thing called the Superbowl, although it bears little resemblance to what I remember.
Football game, blah, blah, blah.
No, what I am talking about — divorced from a game that’s still worth watching — was the Roman/Babylonian spectacle that brought to mind not Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet (although the latter got their product placement in), but more the spectacular sets of “Intolerance” or of “Cleopatra,” or the chariot race in the Chuckles Heston version of Ben Hur.
Is this really what we’ve become?
Outside, thousands of protesters spent the week enraged at the stripping of collective bargaining rights in the middle of a deep recession, when so many are hurting, as the iron boot of the factory owner and the electoral martinet comes down on the throats of those who actually do the work.
No normal people are allowed into the Superbowl. If the ticket prices don’t dissuade you, without an “in” you’re pretty much out of luck. It has become the Roman orgy of the Ruling Classes, and I’ll bet there were more private jets parked at Indianapolis area airports than have been seen in a very long time.
The only “normals” inside were the obligatory contest winners, in a spectacle that has become less a super-bowl of football, but, rather, a spectacle of marketing — the only day of the year where anyone writes any serious copy about commercials outside of Advertising Age.
“The single most popular televised event in the country” the BBC announcer is squawking in my ear at this very instant.
It may be a big event, but it is also an unavoidable display of the American Id, the Collective Obnoxious, and that display tends to be unquestioningly accepted, as though it weren’t a lavish orgy for the Haves inside Lucas Oil Stadium and a non-coverage of the Have-Nots outside the stadium.
I saw nothing in the endless pre-game show, but then I might have been getting more chips and salsa when it was. Because NBC is still responsible media, and, having moved all their news, sports and entertainment divisions to Indianapolis, they couldn’t have helped but see it.
I want to check and see how many “volunteers” worked the halftime show, and helped to spruce up the party for the ruling class. Tostitos® Über Alles!
No one comments on the strange disconnect that for one of the most lucrative commercial events of the year, the presence of unpaid labor is absurd, but accepted.
I am sure, however, that Madonna’s pagan festival at halftime will be the subject of lectures from the pulpit next Sunday morn.
I kept expecting a golden calf to be carried onstage, but perhaps I missed it, heading to the head to unrent my lone, ceremonial beer.
And yet, over-the-top though it was, it was perfect.
Which is why I wonder what we’ve come to.
I watched Chevrolet trucks survive the apocalypse, cars bungee-jumping, barrel rolling, and parachuting. I watched them traverse dream dimensions to unhorse damsels, create “music videos” by slapping guitars, keyboards and drums, and I watched cheetahs chasing cage openers as a car sped away.
But, I don’t want a skydiving car, a musical car, or a car that races cheetahs.
So I guess I just don’t get it.
Coca-Cola did their computer animated polar bears, but then, at the bumper just before the second half, the “brought to you by” included this weird endorsement, “brought to you by Coca-Cola,” by the Polar Bears who remind you to open a bottle of Happiness.
(ad language simulated, and inexact).
“A bottle of Happiness”?
Guess Coke is aiming their marketing at the Chinese market.
Or something. Coca-cola is carbonated sugar water with caffeine. It is NOT happiness. It induces a diuretic cycle that NEVER quenches thirst, and the polar bears are unindividuated cartoon characters, without name or personality, and WHO the hell “authority” is that?
It is weirdly tautological for animations created to sell a product to ENDORSE that product as celebrities created by the advertising FOR that product.
Just as it is weird that volunteers worked to help make the Plutocrats’ Bacchanalia better and more spectacular for anyone who can afford a private jet.
I pray to ghod that we are NOT Rome, but nothing I saw today dispelled that opinion.
As I said, I have watched every Superbowl ever played, and from the Amateur Hour of the first Superbowl to the “Jet Pack” at the Sugar Bowl early on, and more and more — NOT less and less — they bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the Nuremberg Rallies.
Babylon set for D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance”
And that is NOT the America that I know. America is an IDEA, and this is nothing like my idea of America.
But, perhaps coincidentally, we have just passed the infamous “halftime flush” that strains sewer systems across the width and breadth of this increasingly feudal land.
As the superbowel spasms for the last time before the next Superbowl.
Outside, in the streets of Indianapolis, the peasants held silent vigil.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.