What Hath the Super Bowl Wrought?

How’d the Super Bowl get to be a national holiday? It’s another professional sports championship turned national bad snack eating day with an emphasis on commercials and inordinate interest in halftime performances.

It’s the biggest single TV audience of the year and I guess that’s what makes it a big deal. But the contents of edition XLVI wasn’t much. The game was OK and got kind of exciting at the end. The commercials were OK but not particularly great. And I might have liked the Madonna halftime performance most of all, but it too didn’t reach the great heights of that format (which the Stones, Prince and Springsteen all did).

Once you could sort of tell where the country’s head was at by watching the whole thing. But now I’m not so sure. The ads are so focused on the kind of men who are difficult to attract to network TV, it was almost exclusively about cars, cars that draw sexy girls, dogs who can deliver beers and the kind of dream scenarios that would captivate high school freshmen (or those who have not progressed beyond that). (Accordingly, Ferris Beuller all grown up still wants to play hooky).

Some assumptions about the audience went beyond merely erroneous and reached objectionable. Are there people, for example, who so like the artificial taste of Doritos that you will agree to keep quiet about the death of your cat in order to get another bag (And a small bag too, not family size) ?

Sometimes the Super Bowl lives in its own world and you never think about what particular network it’s on. But this year there was never a doubt it was on NBC. A judge on “The Voice” sang “America the Beautiful” with his wife; a mentor on “The Voice” sang the anthem. Another judge on “The Voice” helped close out Madonna’s performance. And if you didn’t hear about the new NBC “Smash” during the course of the game, you were on the wrong network. They announced its start date more than they announced the score.

But there was more than that: Jay Leno appeared in two commercials at least (though in one, with Jerry Seinfeld, he’s treated as the foil – “Leno!” Seinfeld hissed, as he once hissed “Newman!”

Clint Eastwood stepped up to do the Detroit Rising ad for Chrysler, sounding more like a political commercial than an ad for autos.

The build up to the Pepsi commercial was unwarranted. For months, it was touted as a prize for “The X Factor” winner as valuable as the $5 million recording contract. But the effect, with Melanie Amaro slaying the pop kingdom ruled by a high-heeled Elton John, wasn’t much – at least until John was thrown to the dungeon where he was welcomed by Flavor Flav.

Budweiser’s big production ad was about how they overcame prohibition to slake America’s thirst (with shots of people dusting off their bottle openers). It was erroneous history: More people drank during prohibition than they did before.

And the Bud Light “fun” ad was about a dog named Weego who’d fetch bottles, leading to a catch phrase what will never be, “Here, Weego!”

Careers.com had monkeys again; VW referenced its own “Star Wars” ad from last year. Nothing anybody presented certainly made me feel like purchasing anything, or even opening my mind to do so.

I could hardly wait til the whole thing was over and I could go back to my pre-Super Bowl practice of speeding through ads on the DVR, knowing I wouldn’t be missing anything.

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