Carolinian – Speakeasy
Issue: 2/11/02

Stranger Than Fiction: Superbowl XXXVI, starring Russell Crowe
By Kevin Harvey

Americans do a lot of strange things. For instance, many Americans celebrate Groundhog Day. Along the same lines, many Americans vote Bush for President. Unfortunately, the space I have for this column will not allow me to delve into the staggering breadth of these issues. Today I will be instead writing on perhaps the strangest of all Americana: football.

Imagine if you will this scenario: grown men, the largest and strongest men in a given culture, strapping on head and body armor and combating other men in front of million’s of paying viewers. A little barbaric, eh? Sounds like something out of a Russell Crowe movie. Well kids, barbarism isn’t just for Romans anymore. It’s here and Dennis Miller is going to tell you all about it.

Okay, okay. So I’m being a little hypocritical. (I’m an opinions columnist, what do you expect?) I did in fact purposefully sit down in front of the big screen in my dorm and watch Super Bowl XXXLVCT!&%* (hey, they even use Roman numerals to number the damn things! They’re not even trying to hide it!). In its defense, however, the Super Bowl does give us an excuse to sit down with friends and forget the world for a while. Nevertheless, it’s not a very good excuse.

And where were the commercials this year? I guess all of the decent producers left advertising to work for The Daily Show. I still haven’t a clue exactly what type of product Mline is and whether I’ll ever need to buy it or not.

I will say, however, that the halftime show was the best it’s been in years, up to a point. It was a lot more organic than it usually is (that’s really not saying that much). I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Bono and the Edge were actually singing and playing, not just lip-synching. They lost me, however, when the big screen came up and they started flashing names up there. If you found it inspirational, or you thought it was a good time to reflect on what happened, then good for you. I hope you got something out of it. Personally, I kept thinking, “Okay‚Ķbut they’re Irish. Whatever. Bono rocks even if he does look like Robin Williams.

Let’s talk about the National Football League and religion for a second. Both of them influenced our culture before we were even born. Both have days set aside for worship every week. They both have denominations (Jews vs. Christians, Baptists vs. Catholics, Rams vs. Patriots). So, little Timmy, what are you asking Santa for the Super Bowl this year?

There were several strange things about this year’s advertising extravaganza. For instance, this may be the first year that the game was more interesting than the commercials. That just doesn’t happen at the Super Bowl (for that matter, it rarely happens with television programs). And what’s-his-name from the Patriots won the game by kicking a field goal. That’s how Super Bowls are supposed to end.

Taken as a whole, I can’t hate the Super Bowl. It’s the same as every other part of my life: I could pick it apart and complain about it, but if it weren’t there I’d miss it. So I’ll have my fun. I’ll be advertised to. I’ll allow my intelligence to be insulted with flashy but empty Halftime shows. But I’ll do it with my friends, and I’ll get really emotional about something stupid. Americans need to be distracted from the more terrifying realities of life, such as how many Americans vote for Bushes for President.