Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl

Even though Hallmark hasn't figured out how to cash in on it, the Super Bowl is our true national holiday, the Sunday set aside in which we pay homage to the two guiding principles of American life….aggression and consumerism, might and material goods. Hopefully the violence is benign and the advertising results in purchases sufficient to ratchet up the economy.

There is nothing to get the blood circulating so much as rooting for our favorite gladiators. And if winning isn’t enough there is the betting; the point spread, the total score etc… Ten billion dollars is expected to be exchanged on this game by 200 million people. Once again it will be, by far, the most watched TV program of the year.

Too bad wars couldn’t be settled this way; wolfing down beer and pizza and no loss of life. The best part is that on Monday morning nothing will have changed. Everybody cares and then nobody cares.……..unless you bet and lost your shirt. Are we reaching the point when the existential questions of life are settled, once removed and with no consequences?

On the other hand there is the coming together. The living room becomes a sort of public space with animated discourse; some between friends, some directed at the TV set. For a few hours the political divide is bridged, class and race are set aside. New alliances are forged. A new occupy movement is sprung.

Another American phenomenon….99% of those in attendance in Indianapolis will be White. 90% of the players are Black. Bigots will live in Black skin jeering White opponents. But they’ll soon get over it.

Next month is March Madness followed by the NBA finals where a few racists may experience a humanistic awakening but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Some people, I’m told, mute the game and turn up the volume just for the commercials. A new species has emerged; avid viewers of advertising. Everything has become commodified. Our fantasies are marketed, bought and sold. The manipulated enjoying the manipulators.

Indeed, this has become a much-anticipated art form. What new products will be unveiled in astonishing ways that knock our jerseys off our backs? Forget the game. The enduring memory will be Apple’s latest or some new technology, without which, we never knew our remaining days could not be lived.

While all this is going on, about a dozen of us will gather for our monthly Salon, watch a film on great Directors, munch some morsels and talk about the issues raised or anything else on our mind …as long as it doesn’t get around to the game. Not that we are above such things, only off to the side.

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