I’m as big a sports fan as the next person when it comes to my favorite teams. And I’ve had some good luck rooting for the Yankees and my homestate Huskies of UCONN. On the other hand, it is my unfortunate lot to be a longtime fan of the Chicago Bears and as such, once in a blue moon football is still important to me after Christmas. But this year, like most, left me to watch the big game as a disinterested party. And although I have a hard time watching even Monday Night Football with all its attendant nonsense, I figured that maybe the Super Bowl — dominated as it was by squeaky clean Peyton Manning and company — might be different this year.
Unaccustomed as I am to the offerings of network television without benefit of the mute button, watching the game at my local bar was a nightmare on many fronts, not the least of which was the constant cacophony blasting out of surround-sound speakers. Now many in the crowd at my preferred watering hole are knowledgeable football folks, but there were more than a few who looked forward to what they consider the “good parts” of the telecast: the obligatory, deafening rock-and-roll halftime show and the bizarre and vulgar commercials; neither group was disappointed.
Now the game was a surprisingly good one, with the outcome in doubt down to the final minutes. Still, to the eyes and ears of this viewer, the non-football portions of the telecast did not justify the total excruciating experience. As usual, the glee enjoyed by the great majority of those at the bar during commercial breaks was not shared by yours truly. Only a few friends and I stared with blank confusion at what we assumed were attempts to sell products through some perverted sense of shock and awe.
And so we were treated to commercials that featured; old people brutalized, smarmy sexual comments placed on the lips of babies, screaming chickens, endless promos for movies featuring things demonic, countless folks being punched and slapped around and even an ad where a child cracks one of his mother’s boyfriends across the face…what fun! I’m not sure what products were being touted by most of these endeavors, but suffice to say that I will never eat another Dorito.
And of course, spots with cutesy animals cozying up to hot babes were much in evidence also. Now, a big deal was made of the comical complaints from feminists about the Tim Tebow ad, yet am I the only woman in America who thinks their efforts would be more effective against perennial Super Bowl commercials which suggest that any and all kinds of animals would be welcome sex partners?
Men in underwear seemed to be a popular subject in two ads, the more objectionable one having something to do with casual Fridays. Of course, the guffaws and groans it produced were because those overflowing their undies were mostly unattractive middle-aged men. Not so, however, at halftime when we were treated to entirely too much skin from aging Baby Boomer Pete Townsend and friends who were wildly cheered by the adoring mob. Indeed, were there more level-headed and honest women watching the performance, I would not have been the only one to look upon the paunch of Townshend and shout: Button up, please!
Speaking of The Who and their mind-numbing performance, just when did it become law that football — and indeed most of our culture — must be ruled by the banality of rock and roll; that atrociously leveling concept that music is to be made by any dolt with access to an electric guitar or a set of drums?
When one thinks of the golden age of football, NFL films with their glorious soundtracks come to mind, along with the stentorian tones of John Facenda, “the voice of God.” Today, even the shortest clip must be accompanied by crashing guitars or creepy rappers with canned clichés shouted at earsplitting levels: he-could-go-all-the-way!
But not to worry, discerning sports fans. Spring will soon be in the air. And in more serene events like The Masters or the World Series, despite the hype that surrounds them, it is most notably the baseball or the golf that is the highlight of the telecast. No one ever discusses or even notices ads that air during them; indeed, fans long for the end of the commercials rather than look forward to them. And blessedly, there are no halftime shows.