This year’s Superbowl was the highest-rated one yet: it was an arguably exciting game and a high-profile rematch of two of the best teams in the NFL. That, of course, didn’t stop detractors from levying the same old arguments about the Superbowl we seem to hear every year. And it's starting to get a little weary.
The Halftime Show Was Vulgar. Every year, in an attempt to be inclusive of the diverse group of viewers who watch the Superbowl (and in the process put on the biggest spectacle possible), the NFL gets some crowd-pleasing, cutting-edge acts to perform for the halftime show. Oh, no, wait: when I said “cutting edge,” I mean “geriatric.” In the last few years, we’ve had the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and The Who, all of which either already clearly are or are inching very closely towards Social Security age. That said, these older acts are the ones who manage to find themselves in trouble. It all started with Janet Jackson’s exposed boob during the much-maligned “wardrobe malfunction” a few years ago, which kicked off a firestorm of new and remarkably oppressive FCC regulations. Then Prince hid behind a blanket and did unspeakable things to his guitar, and this year Madonna (or, more accurately, M.I.A.) flipped off America for some indeterminate reason. One can simply point to the everlasting rebel culture of rock music, but one things it’s mostly the exact same thing anyone else would do: when given an audience equal to a third of the entire nation, it’s tempting to see what you can get away with.
I am slightly torn with this. My libertarian side says “so what?” A brief second of a middle finger isn’t signaling the collapse of civilization, especially when the stage is also filled with scantily clad gyrating dead Egyptians in the middle of a pointless contest where grown men senselessly beat the shit out of one another. On the other hand…can’t we get through a mere four-hour stretch of time once a year without some jackass being deliberately provocative?
The Commercials Are Sexist. Every year, our professional superiors—I mean, learned feminists—make a point to delineate exactly how sexist the commercials are. Beer ads making jokes about bikini-clad women; car companies thumping on the stereotypical nagging woman or the hen-pecked husband; GoDaddy’s annual tribute to the least clever way to tease out pretend porn on the Internet while trying to shill internet domain names. When the predicted outcry occurs every year, I can only roll my eyes in the maximum amount of condescension I can muster in the hopes that I can fulfill feminists’ hypocritical assumption of how all men react to anything women say. These critics apparently 1) never watch television any other time of year, 2) never have seen a cover of a women’s magazine, and 3) seemingly have no problem with the smart female/dumb male dynamic present in something like every single sitcom created in the least two decades. I can’t really foster too much sympathy for people walking around, palms raised up, shrugging their shoulders and asking “What? Sex still sells? This is 2012!” Also breaking: dogs like bones and gas prices are too high.
I Didn’t Watch Any Of The Game So That Makes Me Superior To You. I get it that not everyone likes football. I used to be an anti-football-ite myself. But every year, there is that One Guy who not only doesn’t watch the Big Game, but they actively tell everyone they know, as if this is a monumental aspect of their personality. (Sadly, it may be.) Part of this is historical: For almost a decade, the Superbowl matchups were pretty dismal, with one conference sending a wonderful team and the other sending whoever was able to stumble around long enough so they could get destroyed at the end of January. That still happens sometimes, but we’ve also had nearly a decade of good, solid and exciting football games, even for people who don’t watch football. If the last time you tried watching the Superbowl was when the 49ers beat the piss out of the Chargers, it’s time to take another look.
Still, even if you’re not the sporting type…who cares? It’s a de facto national holiday in the United States. Even if you don’t care about football and you’re not interested in the advertisements, you can at least hang out with friends and eat bad food. Sure, taking advantage of sparsely populated theme parks or museums makes sense, but if all you’re going to do is sit at home and do anything except what a third of your fellow citizens are doing, you’ve lost.