The Super Bowl Manifesto 2005

The following presentation was brought to you by my iPod on shuffle, the best radio station I have ever heard, and my tragically overabundant alcohol intake last night.

Another year, another Super Bowl, another chance to watch corporate America drop millions upon billions of dollars vying for your undivided attention during television’s bona fide ratings coup. I venture to say that there is no yearly event more celebratory of what President Bush so fondly calls our society of ownership. Like those angels in It’s a Wonderful Life getting their wings, you can hear rich white guys all over the country getting richer with each first down. While Super Bowl Sunday offers us a reason to wedge ourselves into a couch munching on bowls of unhealthy snacks, consuming as many cans of beer as we can drink in four hours, and devouring pizza n wings, it also gives us a chance revel in the American spirit. While watching the commercial breaks, we can take a moment and feel proud to be a potential customer and really appreciate the talent of our advertising industry by allowing it to manipulate our minds. Do you think anyone back in the Lombardi days could predict such a beautiful merger of unabashed capitalism and pure athleticism? You have to just sit back and love it.

And the game. There was a game, right? Yeah. It was a good game. I have to start this off by saying that while I was watching the Super Bowl, I was so hungover, my brain was like play-dough (and it still is). You what happens when your brain has the consistency of play-dough? Random thoughts come spilling out of your mouth, especially when you are watching a circus like the Super Bowl in the company of people who are accustomed to your weirdness but are friends with you in spite of it. And why I am using the pronoun, “you” to describe myself, I don’t know. But the more I heard myself babble nonsense, the more I was aware of it and felt like maybe I should explain myself. So at the precise moment I was thinking it, I said, “everything that comes out of my mouth is like an unplanned pregnancy.” Anyway. Yeah. So, right, the game. I was lucky enough to be watching with my friend, Mike, a former star center on his high school football team, so I could ask him questions, like, “why do they do those plays where they have someone run it for two yards right into a big pileup?” He didn’t get annoyed, bless his heart. I even learned about the strategic pros and cons of The Blitz. We were all rooting for Philadelphia. For me, four reasons: (1) As I said earlier, Donovan McNabb brushed against my shoulder in college. So I know him. (2) I always root for the underdog. (3) Philadelphia vs Boston. Philadelphia wins because I have family and friends there. And it’s like the birthplace of America or something. (4) The Red Sox won the World Series. Boston fans are too spoiled, especially since the Pats won last year. So we were disappointed that the Eagles lost, but at least, contrary to Vegas blowout predictions, it was a good, exciting game. If the game’s boring, all you have are the commercials, which weren’t much of anything this year. Observations, observations. Since I lack the football knowledge credibility to even pretend I can write about football (not to mention I’m a girl), I’ll just stick to little idiosyncratic observations. But to get a football-related one out of the way, I have to say that the commentary was spectacular. My favorite: “Terrell Owens is [over there on the sidelines] telling him to relax, but I say, it’s hard to relax when you’re the quarterback in the Super Bowl and you’re trying to come back from ten points down in the fourth quarter.” The presence of Pam Oliver on the sidelines in her big white coat really wowed my guy friends, who wondered why the female reporters are always down on the sidelines and not up in the booth. The Dirty Bird. A very dapper looking Bill Clinton taking in the game from his box. After commenting upon his post-surgery glow, the inevitable, “would you give him a blow job?” from the other side of the couch. Knew that was coming. The NFL-Fox promo with the plastic-looking dolphin that had a football in his mouth, and then immediately after, “is that real?” The verdict on spinning "Sunday Bloody Sunday" during the highlight reel? Not cool. The pylon-cam and accompanying commentary, “have you ever wondered what the game looks like from a pylon?” And then they actually go and show the tiny little lens on the pylon. Yes, this is scrutiny. We put cameras in pylons, just in case. Got to cover all the angles. I wish our intelligence agencies had given as intense of scrutiny to the investigation of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as the Super Bowl refs and replay cameras gave to whether or not that was a fumble. Speaking of camera love, it would have been possible to get wasted playing the Tedy Bruschi drinking game. The man actually has a fan club on the Internet. And lastly (because I want to jot down some thoughts about the commercials and I’ll forget about them if I ramble on too much...but look what I’m doing), the ridiculousness of interviewing the losing team post-game. That poor Eagles coach. The winning team doesn’t care. And the losing fans, why beat a dead horse? And while I love watching McNabb stroke his beard as much as the next person, this just wasn’t his year. Maybe next time.

The halftime show. Who can forget last year? Does anyone want to forget last year? Despite how funny that was, it has had dire consequences. Obviously, the Super Bowl Halftime Show stopped being sensational and spectacular the moment that wardrobe malfunctioned. This year? Paul McCartney. They can’t even book an American at the most American event in America (America, stop trying to claim the Beatles). Remember, this is a guy who was once considered badass for growing his hair past his ears and, in some circles, was thought to be bigger than Jesus. I mean, I’m a big Beatles fan, but this was no Shea Stadium. It was decent, tasteful and wholesome, something Ned Flanders would have produced if forbidden to touch the Bible (please watch the post-game Simpsons if you missed it). McCartney set the standard for what will, from now on, be an aspect of the Super Bowl that nobody really remembers. And I love how they got all patriotic in the end, how in the stadium seats there was a red, white, and blue spelling of “NA” “NA” “NA,” as if the end of “Hey Jude” is a catch phrase with some deep, profound meaning, as if it wasn’t just something Paul decided to tack on the end of the song when he was writing it, probably stoned, back in the late ‘60s. And speaking of songs Paul wrote when he was stoned, I was very glad to hear “Get Back” live, especially since he got away with singing about sex and gender ambiguity. “Sweet Loretta Marvin though she was a woman, but she was another man. All the girls around her said ‘she’s got it coming,’ but she gets it while she can.” So don’t worry. There’s still hope for scandal in the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The commercials. Copy line sample from the best of the best: “crisp taste with no aftertaste.” EVERYbody's talking about Cialis. Old folks lovin’. I mean, really lovin’! There were words…erectile, performance. Me (staring at the screen in awe after the commercial): “What was that?” Mike: “It’s Viagra on steroids!” And the Simpsons swooped right down afterwards and did a takeoff on that commercial! “We’re going to go have old people sex!” The Simpsons: better than all the rest. See Turner, Tina. 80s hits. Speaking of old soul singers, Gladys Knight, without the Pips. The Verizon mini-celebrity was ho-hum, although Xtina getting blown off the table with the hair dryer was hilarious. The standing-o troops coming home ad, which was brought to you by George W. Bush...I mean, Busch (I know what you're thinking. I don't support our troops. Wrong. I do. I just don't agree with airing this ad but refusing to show the caskets of fallen soldiers). The ultimate waste of 3 million dollars award goes to Ford and its cop stopping the frozen guy in the convertible ad. Let’s try to really hit home this sell by airing the exact same commercial twice! Brilliant. Sometimes the best commercials come from the least memorable brand names. It really is too bad. Case in point: the don’t judge too quickly campaign. I saw two, there may have been more. The first was a guy talking on a hands-free cell phone, he’s in a convenience store and gets up to pay and he’s saying, “You’re being robbed. No, really. You’re being robbed.” And the store owners go berserk with mace and weapons. Hilarious, especially if you’re like me and get fooled into thinking people on hands-free phones are talking to you. “What? Oh, you’re on the phone.” The other don’t judge too quickly ad was also quite funny, but what gets me is that as effective as these commercials were, they sure did a lousy job of integrating the company name into the sell. I feel like I got away with being entertained without having my brain washed. Another commercial that suffered from this fate was the Fed-Ex dancing bear Burt Reynolds “More than a Feeling” ad. Now that’s refreshing originality. But tragically, the only reason I remember it was Fed-Ex was because I wrote it down. It’s too bad that everyone will remember the P. Diddy Diet Pepsi truck ad because (a) they aired it five times and (b) was that Carson Daly driving off with monster truck wheels? Also, Brad Pitt makes a bold post-Aniston move by being the only movie star to appear in a Super Bowl commercial--for Heineken, no less. Although it wasn’t on until the Simpsons, the worst ad ever was definitely the Nike pro apparel “for warriors” sorry excuse for an advertisement. I’ll let Mike take this one. “This is what happens when they let artsy filmmakers make commercials.” And believe it or not, my short but illustrious marketing career made an impact on the Super Bowl. I engineered the voice-overs (those guys that narrate movie trailers and TV spots) for two of the movie commercials that aired. One of the movies involved Vin Diesel and diapers. Need I say more?


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