I’m not a fan of American football. I find it agonizingly slow and too full of bluster and chest-thumping to really enjoy on a regular basis. But I do watch the Superbowl. I mean, most of us do, whether we like football or not, whether we know anything about the teams or not.
Superbowl Sunday isn’t so much about football as it is about a reason to gather. And who doesn’t love that? A long stretch of time to sit back and hang out with friends, an opportunity to catch up, to celebrate and to come together for something — something that some people care passionately about and others couldn’t care less about but which brings us all together nonetheless. For these reasons, I love Superbowl Sunday.
But there are things I despise about it as well. The Superbowl isn’t just about football and friends gathering together. It is also about a certain projection of America. One that is loud and violent and commercial and sexualizes women. An America that celebrates excess, stereotypes, money, and (apparently) the automotive industry.
Heck, one of the better ads last night featured the much-derided “magical Negro” character (played with aplomb and apparent lack of irony by a disturbingly young-looking Stevie Wonder) and another highlighted the characters from Priscilla Queen of the Desert but chickened out and made them all women. LAME. And also not the America I live in on a day to day basis.
These aspects of the Superbowl depress me.
This might sound like a rant against the Superbowl (or against America), but I don’t intend it to be. I’m just wondering if the Superbowl represents a real part of our country — a place that people live in and that makes sense to them, that they don’t question — or if it’s just another hyperamped, over-the-top fake, made-for-television America that exists one night a year and allows all of us to indulge in a stereotype of ourselves that maybe on some level we need.
Or am I over-(or -under)thinking this?
Well, while I ponder the nature of American culture further and wait to hear what you all think, I may just go and take another Pepto, because last night’s “culinary” indulgences are another thing very, very wrong (and very, very right) about Superbowl Sunday.