Ok, I think I’ve just about had enough.
What are we watching the Superbowl for? Or maybe the better question is: why is the Superbowl any kind of big deal? Any kind of bigger deal than, say, a regular season Monday Night Football?
Sure, I get that athletes – conditioned from birth to celebrate meaningless, repetitive annual milestones like bowl and homecoming games as though they were some sort of Homeric, once-in-a-lifetime kind of feat – can only be expected to take this game seriously. But the rest of us? Judging on the entirely unscientific data gleaned from my Twitter feed, I’m going to say that many people out there are as confused as I am.
Personally, I really don’t need much of an excuse to eat dietetically-ill-advised hors d’oeuvres and drink excessively. And I don’t think you do, either. But if that’s what it takes to make you and your loved ones set aside your dietary restrictions for an evening and truly enjoy the wonderful/awful fury of a good firehouse chili, then that’s a good thing. I’m just saying: I’m sure Arbor Day would suffice if we really tried. Why the Superbowl?
Is it the commercials? Lots of us watch the Superbowl in anticipation of some of the best commercials we’ll see all year. But that anticipation was thwarted early, wasn’t it? Many commercials “leaked” to the Internet well in advance of the game. “Leaked”, that is, from the most expensive to the most viral and effective medium for commercials. Strange, huh? And its probably just as well, anyway: Superbowl commercials this year were at best tepid and at worst violent or offensive as in the PepsiCo and Groupon commercials. And I’m here to tell you: I really enjoy a little violence and offensive humor. I just prefer my humor funny, is the only thing.
God help you if you’re tuning into the Superbowl for the halftime show. I mean, for a start, you’ve got to wait through like an hour of crap you didn’t want to watch to get to the five minutes of crap you did want to watch. I’m sure that there are plenty of live videos of your favourite stars on YouTube for ready consumption, but you chose to sit and tap your foot impatiently for an hour, frustrating loved ones and alienating friends over one single pop group? Really?
Besides which, there was a time when you could count on seeing Aerosmith, Prince, Tom Petty,… just about anybody on stage for the halftime show. At the same time. It was still overdone and cheesy, but at least it was several flavours of cheese, all melted together like a nice fondue. When was the last time that happened? I think it might have been the Tom Petty halftime show. Now you’ve just got one pop sensation – the Black Eyed Peas – playing an overdone show with inexplicable marching people in light-up Tron costumes and a cameo by Slash with Fergie doing a fairly limp Axl impression. Oh, yeah. And Usher. Right, that whole thing. Is that what you stayed up late for?
But then: there is a football game in there. And in all honesty, it was a pretty damned good game this year, albeit overshadowed by the criminal records and accusations of sexual violence that marks the Superbowl Class of 2011.Wonderful. Again, if this was a regular season game, would you care? You’d watch – I’d watch – but would it be as imbued with meaning, with mysticism, with wonder? I don’t think so.
The problem isn’t the game. It’s not the commercials. Its not the half time show – and I’m being generous, here. The problem is that there comes a point when you simply cannot top what you’ve done last year and we’re about a decade past that point. The even cannot possibly live up to the hype, the cost, the promise of pageantry and triumph. It’s just a freakin’ football game, after all.