The good, the bad and the ugly of Super Bowl XLVII

Why must a night of Photo: The Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir and Jennifer Hudson

WASHINGTON, DC, February 4, 2013 - The Super Bowl, a 47-year-old American tradition, has become much more than a football game.

With the kick off show starting at 3:00 pm PST and 6:00 EST, the Super Bowl has become a family affair. It is now ten times more likely to be a gathering of family including little children, grandparent, and everything in between, than it is to be a bunch of slobs grunting over beer and fried food in a man cave somewhere. 

Millions of moms and dads try to prepare a special day and a hospitable welcome for friends and family into our homes for a special time together. Strangely, the Super Bowl is quite like Thanksgiving. We gather over eats and family fun with a little something for everyone. 

The Super Bowl also is an ambassador for American life and culture. About a third of Americans watch the Super Bowl live and another two million do so outside the United States. The game is broadcast to over 200 countries.

This year’s match was glorious, truly a nail-biter. A close game, rife with every kind of back story that augments the thrill of the sport and makes both the play and the outcome riveting. 

Half-time was a masterpiece of entertainment-technology, pulsating with relentless energy and Swiss-clock mastery of stage and set design and execution. 

There are many other parts of the Super Bowl that are unique and significant, including the National Anthem and other evidences of our patriotic hopes and dreams.

And, as always, there are the long anticipated Super Bowl commercials, each one an investment meant to be worthy of the four million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime sticker price.

The Super Bowl has so much to give. It gives us without question some of the most exciting, entertainment rich hours of our lives. 

As it is so filled with the highest and the best, why must my night of excitement celebration be so constantly defiled with gratuitous violence, misogyny, and  pornographic innuendo?  Why must I spend so much of these hours cringing and embarrassed, ashamed to be in the same room with my children, with my mom and dad or with my grandparents. 

Take the half-time show, for example. Personally, I have no use for Beyonce’s genre.  Before last night, I could not name a Beyonce song. But that is no matter. She is a pure talent, grand, and powerful. I would never seek her out, but I loved her show. I loved the all-womanness of her team, right down to her hard hitting drummer, and her shredding lead ax. All good. 

But the show would not have been hurt in the least if the mimicry of copulation was feathered out of her choreography on this particular night. The show would not have been hurt in the least if Beyonce and her fellow performers wore clothes for the show instead of dominatrix underwear. 

I have no problem if Beyonce likes to perform in her underwear or choreograph her shows to look like women at a strip club. But on a night that is meant for all Americans young and old, why couldn’t her corporation create a show with just the slightest difference in wardrobe and choreography? Had she chosen to perform for all of her viewers, she would not have diminished her show in the least. To show respect for all her viewers, my kids and my mom, she would not have had to make her incredible show an iota less thrilling.  In fact she would have shown command of her art in ways even greater.  I am talking about the tiniest changes. 

Beyonce is a wonder in so many performing arts and the team behind her is phenomenal.  But why could they not perpetrate a Super Bowl half time show for me and my children, and my mom, and my chips and our fun? Next week Beyonce can go to Madison Square Garden in her underwear and pole dance. I won’t be there with my kids or my mom, but I am sure it will be an exciting show.

Before the Super Bowl, the Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir and Jennifer Hudson sang “America the Beautiful.”I wept. I felt so proud of my country. Our nation is so good in how we manifest faith, hope, and love. The 70,000 spectators rose to their feet, many with tears in their eyes, as the children sang, nearly two months after the deadly shooting rampage at their Connecticut school. “Our wish is to demonstrate to America and the world that, “We are Sandy Hook and we choose love,” the school said in a statement.

Alicia Keys also sought to honor us and our country by taking seriously her commission to sing the game-opening National Anthem. People are critiquing her rendition as departing too broadly from convention, but it was clear that she moved the hearts of the athletes preparing for game start, and the servicemen and women seen on camera.  There always will be differences of opinion, but her devotion was evident. During the week she reported that she was rehearsing intensely. 

In perhaps the greatest moment of his life, Coach John Harbaugh held the Lombardi trophy straight in front of him and offered the victory to former Baltimore Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance, who continues to serve as the Ravens’ director of player development, despite his ongoing battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In perhaps the greatest moment of his life, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis held up the trophy and expressed his joy that it was with these players, with this team that he could finish his career in so exciting a way.

Moment after moment, event after event, even in the commercialism of the Super Bowl, we could rejoice and delight in the beauty of America, her resilience, her selfless style even in victory, and her child-like ways of always hoping to be better, and to do better. Though just a game, the Super Bowl has become something more akin to a family holiday, full of good, wholesome, and honorable things. 

How is it then that the entire process is riddled relentlessly from start to finish in base and disgraceful infantilism, meaningless ugliness, gratuitous violence, and grossly inappropriate, salacious sex. 

Where does this come from? Why is it part of our family night? What does destroying libraries have to do with enjoying Oreo Cookies? Why do women robots humiliate and all but kill a person looking at a Kia? Why does a Pepsi make parents suddenly sanguine that their home is being destroyed by their brat kid? What is the sense behind the disgusting, irritating Dorritos ads? A threatening goat? Buffoons in drag, lipstick, rouge, and stuffed into a friend’s wedding dress. What does the likes of pornographic foreplay have to do with buying domain names, as seen in the Go Daddy ads? Why must I sit there thrilled, honored, and uplifted by so much, only to be constantly assaulted, embarrassed and ashamed for my family, and for how my country is shown and seen all around the world?

Many, many of the commercials are honorable, upright, uplifting, and respectful. 

In the lead up, I was worried, why did Mercedes Benz drape their great revelation in the popular icons of Satan and Devil admiration. But I was proud of them in the end, when the tempted fellow in the commercial vanquished evil, resisting the Faustian bargain, and choosing to work and pay for his beautiful car. He would earn his Mercedes the right way. I was proud of Mercedes for that ad concept, just as I am proud of their investment in the resurrection of New Orleans.

As a national community, we need to take stock and pay close attention to who and what we become when our lives reach such grand proportions like they do on such occasions as the Super Bowl. We should look closely at all parts of such events. We should honor and be grateful for the many parts of these events that show our beauty. Likewise we should battle against the shameful and disgraceful parts with the same ferocity and guts as the Ravens did on their night. Not always pretty, not always perfect, but we can do the job. We can be better.


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Frank Kaufmann

Frank Kaufmann is Editor in Chief of New World Encyclopedia (a values based, general knowledge encyclopedia), executive director of the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (an international, interreligious peace organization), founder and president of Values in Knowledge Foundation (a movement to to meet the challenges and undo the harm caused by declining content in the world of  knowledge and information).

Frank Kaufmann's work for peace includes efforts in over 65 countries with successes in conflict ridden and violent environments.

This mission to produce and maintain New World Encyclopedia involves supporting a virtual academy of over 500 international scholars as contributors. 

 

 

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