Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Permit me to be a bit of crank today. I am sick of the hyperbolic cacophony of Super Bowl related nonsense that has flooded America this week. You heard it here first: football is an excuse to worship violence as part of faux tribal warfare. Remember when games were considered recreation? On Super Bowl Sunday we get a pseudo-national holiday replete with domestic violence, rampant gambling, and overindulgence in food and drink.
Let’s examine just one small glob of nonsense from that most middle American of Middle America publications, Parade Magazine, a cheaply printed, mentally challenged publication given away free in Sunday newspapers across the country. No deep, penetrating articles and analysis ever graced the pages of this rag; the reportage in Parade never delves deeper than what shoes a particular actress wore on the red carpet, or what Mick Jagger thinks of Maroon 5.
This week’s screaming cover story is “Food! Football! Fun!” No clever headline for these folks! Inside, we are treated to statements like “With so much that divides us politically and culturally, and so much that isolates us technologically, celebrating the Super Bowl has become a joyous communal rite.” Yes, gather around the campfire, ye animal-skin-wearing brethren and let us summon the gods and tell stories of the 46th war of the Titans.
We are told that 110.9 million gallons of beer are sold for the Big Game, as well as 125 billion chicken wing portions and 11.2 million pounds of potato chips. In addition, 4.5 million Americans will by a new television set for the game, and in total, 10.1 billion dollars will be dedicated to Super Bowl spending on items ranging from food to furniture.
But wait—there’s more.
A sidebar allows us to identify specific character traits of partygoers by the temperature of the hot sauce they prefer. In a section entitled “Be Your Own Referee,” we are warned to “not let guests’ unsportsmanlike conduct spoil all the fun.” Our friends are classified by type—the Over-imbiber, The Tireless Talker, The Nacho-Averse—with clear strategies to prevent them from disrupting the good time guaranteed for all.
Hollace Schmidt gives us “Four Rules For A Foolproof Time,” including setting up a “choice of party zones” for guests. “Create two viewing areas,” Schmidt writes, “one for those who want to see every play and one for the chatters and snackers.” Hosts should also “provide activities for young partygoers,” “offer extra entertainment to the grown-ups” (Super Bowl Bingo!) and be prepared for uninvited guests who drop in.
Here is the crank’s view of the Big Game: we are being duped. We are being lulled into a consuming stupor. Wake up, America! The Big Game is nothing more than an opportunity to watch overpaid muscleheads act violently while we are manipulated by crass, superficial, lowest-common-denominator advertisers into buying stuff we don’t need and can’t afford. Put down the chicken wings, step away from the crock pot of melted cheese and drop the rest of the submarine sandwich upon which you gnaw and wise up. You can wear the jersey, but that doesn’t make you part of the team; your team may win, but you had nothing to do with it. And on Monday morning, we will all go back to our lives no better for the secular holiday called Super Bowl Sunday. Only the heartburn will remain.
Or, go ahead and watch, but consider the irony: the most violent, macho, testosterone-driven sporting event is really a contest watched by millions of Americans featuring big, sweaty men in tight pants grabbing each other with a halftime show performed by that has-been of mindless pop, Madonna, who has promised to “bring gay to the Super Bowl.” In a country divided over same-sex marriage and rife with homophobia, that may be the weirdest part of the whole charade.
Photo courtesy of AM 1400 ESPN