The Super Bowl may be expected to be too super for its own good. We expect nothing less than the spectacle of the century, every year—something like the defining American ode to excess in football, tasteless advertisement and split-the-difference music. For years, we felt the ads were better than the games; then recently the games were better than the ads; and this year both the game and the ads and the halftime entertainment stunk. I’m sure many Americans gorged themselves half to death and had a merry time getting home—I sprung a flat, though it’d be foolish to generalize my experience as being some malaise for the game.
But still, but still.
The ads have been getting worse for years now, and the only thing funny about them was the mockery they endured on Twitter feeds nationwide. The problem for Super Bowl ads is that we’re facing an end-of-history moment for the Super Bowl ad genre: there are the clichés (which we all know and find clueless) and then…there is nothing. The clichés consist of a grab bag of crotch shots, B and C-list celebrities with random cameos, infantilizing men and women but mostly women, and predictably bad punchlines. Most of the ads fit into that category and most of those stunk—I’d call out specific ones if I could remember them. Then there were the ads that forgot there was a thirty-second time limit—it seemed like an unusual number of ads caused one or another viewers to ask, “Wait, what was the point of that ad?” Somehow, in this era of concision—that’s what the internet is, people—the benefits have not drifted down to Super Bowl ads specifically, and, hell, television ads generally. (The one really good ad I can remember recently was the Google ad.)
The halftime show usually stinks because the NFL is unfailingly good at picking bands that began terminal decline a long time ago and are somewhere close to the do-not-resuscitate stage; hopefully this means that there’s some dissension or something happening in the Black Eyed Peas that we don’t know about because that would really be a gift to the entire world. (Where is the love indeed, Peas? Like, the love you should have for us.) (That said, the suggestion that was too wonderful to pass over on my Twitter feed was this: Kanye West for Super Bowl halftime show. Now, this will never, ever, ever happen, because the NFL—which is too afraid of controversy and too afraid of the sensibilities of an imaginary horde of tighty-whitey-wearing prudes—would be justly afraid of controversy in this case. But still: a) I’ve been to two Kanye West concerts, and the man deeply loves excess and spectacle, so b) I’m on very safe ground knowing that West would love crushing the Super Bowl into a new plane of existence. It might cause large portions of America to collapse into a quivering mass of anger, but it’d be worth it.)
The game this year was not so good because the Steelers didn’t have an offensive line and the Packers’ wide receivers seemed to have had their hands collectively amputated in some strange ritual peculiar to the footballing tribe that we’re not privy to (but why before the biggest game of their lives? The ways of the tribe are strange.) Still, it had some fun. I think. Certainly more than the rest of the peripherals, I think.