Super Bowl XXXVI Makes Al-Qaida Run For The Hills —

“No more Terry Bradshaw!” they scream.

Johnny Loftus

Each year, the concentric rings of florescent gluttony emanating from the Super Bowl reach further and further out, before they eventually dissolve, say, around the time pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in late February. But this year, on top of the reams of ad money and endless sports media backslapping that have become traditions, Fox’s coverage of the Super Bowl was spun as an “America RULES!’ boondoggle on par with James Brown’s “Livin’ In America” spectacle preceding Apollo Creed’s bout with Ivan Drago.

And I still don’t know what an Mlife is.

The event played out on a series of levels. In the center was the game itself, which was treated as a non-event til midway through the second quarter, when it became clear that the AFC’s New England Patriots were not the Washington Generals to the NFC’s St Louis Rams’ Globetrotting “Greatest Show on Turf” act. Revolving around the game was the usual Sunday slumber – which on Fox is dominated by JB, Terry, Cris and Howie’s towel-slapping antics and barely tenable game analysis. But because of September 11, and in anticipation of the patriotic daisycutter that will detonate over Salt Lake City next week, Super Bowl XXXVI was almost forgotten amidst the Up With America! fervor lancing through every aspect of the event.

 Mariah Carey sobered up long enough to competently lip-synch our national anthem. A full-figured gal, Carey’s pinup girl good looks nicely complimented Fox’s troops-in-Kandahar breakins. Here’s what you’re fighting for, boys. Get home safe, you hear? And when you do, visit Mariah at the group home, where she’s gearing up for a tour of America’s roadhouses and supper clubs, selling her new release from the trunk of her 1986 Nissan Sentra. Vanity license plate: CRAZY4U.

 “Sir” Paul McCartney, looking spry in his casual tracksuit, performed “Freedom,” his wretched song penned in the wake of 9/11. The sentiment is to be applauded. But like Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll” before it, the song just sucks. A better Macca moment came during halftime, when he harmonized with Terry Bradshaw in a version of “Hard Day’s Night” straight out of the decaying brain matter knocking around inside Bradshaw’s skull. The erstwhile Steeler QB played too many games without his helmet on, and it shows. For his part, McCartney took it all in with good-natured charm, not even flinching when the decidedly un-funky James Brown suggested that McCartney’s old band changed the world “with their moptop haircuts.”

 U2 made the most of their 12- minute halftime gig, even if the heart-shaped stage and “Beautiful Day” don’t have the same freshness they did over a year ago when we first saw and heard them. Bono’s entrance through the crowd was a nice touch, as was the brief coda of “MLK” before the Edge’s sparkling intro to “Streets Have No Name.” Instead of his usual sermon on peace and love, Bono chose to let an enormous projection of 9/11’s victims speak for itself.

It’s been suggested that an American band should have performed at halftime. Who, Grand Funk Railroad? U2 is no longer just an Irish band. While Bono’s proselytizing is at times overwrought, he and his band have truly become a band for the world. Their message is clear, but their music supports it with appropriate amounts of rocking and songcraft. They were the perfect choice for this year’s halftime show, reinforcing the patriotic flair of the show with their trademark grace and sound.

By the end of the fourth quarter, a slush fund of ad dollars had amounted to a memorable Broadway chimp, a few funny Budweiser ads (“I’m doin’ fine. My brother just picked me up from the airport and…”), and the fact that Britney would have been hotter in the 1950s. Because of the Patriots’ late game heroics, Fox had to push its tribute to departing broadcast icon Pat Summerall into the post-game. But when it finally came, the video montage was accompanied by some extremely awkward on-camera banter between the ancient Summerall and his booth partner for 21 years, the monolithic John Madden. It only got worse when each member of Fox’ broadcast crew delivered a soliloquy about what Summerall meant to them (or at least what he meant to their fledgling careers as moronic broadcasters). It may have been time for the 71-year old Summerall to hang it up, but Fox’ treatment of his farewell was concurrent with the network’s bludgeoning, substance-less brand projection. Even drunk, senile, and old, Pat Summerall has more class than goose-necked desk warbler Cris Collinsworth.

Given the Fox network’s penchant for brazen cross-promotion, Super Bowl XXXVI’s patriotic bent could have been so heavy-handed as to make the terrorists hate us more. The cast of “That 80s Show” reciting the Gettysburg Address in Valley Girl accents, perhaps? Instead, the event combined reverent patriotism, exciting football, and a hint of that “don’t fuck with us” cold war chest-thumping that defined Rocky IV and America in the 1980s.

And in the end, a red, white, and blue team of upstarts and never weres, led by a spunky kid QB with corn-fed good looks and an “aw, shucks” smile, knocked the cool kids’ block off, and made the Vince Lombardi trophy their own. If that doesn’t sound like a script written for America in 2002, I’ll submit to a Quizno’s product testing seminar.


17 thoughts on “INORDINANCE”

  1. I watched the first few minutes when they introduced the teams, along with floats, lasers, flags, and about 211,000 cheerleaders. I didn’t actually see a dog or a pony, but I know they were there somewhere. I meant to go and watch some of the halftime ads, but then I got hung up watching ‘Legend Of Drunken Master’. Man, that really is Jackie Chan’s best movie, if you ask me! And it’s great watching it on DVD, so you can do a good, smooth slo-mo replay of some of his crazier moves. I still can’t figure out if he’s on wires for a couple of scenes in the steel factory, ’cause it seems like he’s moving the wrong way in mid air for just a split second, but then when you play it back at normal speed it looks like he…oh well, never mind.Anyway, the Super Bowl sucks.

  2. Johnny: What is scary is that you apparently know as much about “America’s Game” as music. Yoiks!Mixmaster: The real question is this: How well would Jackie do against the NFL? Now that would be something to see.

  3. “Mixmaster: The real question is this: How well would Jackie do against the NFL? Now that would be something to see.”Well, a few years back I would have given you the NFL and spotted you 10 points. Jackie’s not getting any younger tho, so I feel the odds would be about even now.Also, here’s an interesting comparison: the NFL vs. Jackie Chan as role models.In that contest, Jackie walks away with it hands down-I’d much rather my kid emulate him than some dumb-ass football player. Think about it: Jackie stands for hard work, being polite and respectful to women and senior citizens, clean living (I don’t think I’ve ever even heard him cuss in any of his flicks), fighting for a just cause and never for the sake of proving what a tough guy you think you are, and when you have no other option – kicking ass. That’s basically the antithesis of the NFL, and professional sports in general.Plus, his initials are (gulp!) J.C…

  4. I don’t know what to say about Jackie Chan vs. the NFL, but I do have a few other comments re: JTL’s article:1)I don’t know about U2 being the quintessential American band as you suggest, but the reality is that they probably booked U2 way before 9/11 made patriotism trendy, and so they just had to go with it. Springsteen probably had somewhere else to be. Although I think Sunday Bloody Sunday would have been a better choice of songs…2)Did anyone else notice that when Paul McCartney broke into “Hard Day’s Night” with Terry Bradshaw that he said “I’ve been working like a log…”? 3) Do you really think Brittney would have been hotter in the 50s? I think it’s a sad state of affairs that Brittney is our culture’s closest approximation to Marilyn Monroe. fake tan, fake boobs, works out 100 hours a week — can’t believe that’s our society’s idea of sexy…

  5. As I sat in the Nisei Lounge in Chicago for the fourth consecutive Super Bowl, drinking myself into oblivion and considering during half-time how it was that my Super Bowl tradition has come to be sitting in the Nisei Lounge drinking myself into oblivion, I was immediately irritated by U2 and their performance. Which is not surprising, given my attitude towards that band and how silly they have become (even sillier than Sir Silly Love Songs). Of course someone like Bruce Springsteen, hell, even Billy Joel would have been a better choice. It also occured to me that perhaps some of the 9/11 victims’ families might not be too keen on participating in a Super Bowl celebration. Football may be our most popular pro sport, but that makes it more ubiquitous than universal. But then U2 started to play “Streets” and I broke down. I was touched, moved even. I felt the patriotism (and the Pabst) burning inside me. It dawned on me that perhaps some clever marketer of about my own age had suggested that U2 dust off one of their older songs such that the usually cynical 30-ish crowd that thinks U2 sold out after Joshua Tree might not dismiss the whole thing. And it worked–and for once, I was glad to be effectively marketed at because it felt so good.

  6. Well, Jackie Chan sings in “Shanghai Noon,” and I’m sure as hell glad that he didn’t do the halftime show.(BTW: While not a U2 fan, thinking that it (esp. Bono) has become as ubiquitous as Sting, which means more evident than the NFL, I must say that the “show”–and let’s not forget that it was a “show”–was striking. And unlike my colleague, I was sitting in my house, stone-sober. Manipulated? Yep.)

  7. I almost didn’t watch the halftime show, but I figured since (*gasp*) the actual *game* managed to snag my attention, I’d give it a shot. I, too, was quite moved as Edge’s light riff led into “Streets”… Maybe I’m just becoming a sap in my old age, or maybe it was the sheer shock of seeing a SuperBowl display that actually *meant* something, but I thought it was a good show.”Jackie Chan versus the AFC – FIGHT!”

  8. I thought U2 did a good job, but why couldn’t they have played the Superbowl at the end of the Pop tour? Glitter suits, giant lemon disco balls, village people – now that’s the Superbowl….Right, that’s a combo #3, and I’d like my overexposed, sellout commercialism supersized please.

  9. I think we were touched by U2’s performance because despite people’s feelings, they are a really good band. They know how to build the tension and then let rip right at the right moment. Like their music or don’t, but at least admit they know what they’re doing.

  10. “I was glad to be effectively marketed at because it felt so good…” LOL…I only saw part of halftime, it was the end of “Elevation” into “Streets”. I was also involuntarily moved. I also thought U2 had all the skills even though I’m not their biggest fan. I was immediately cynical about the banner with the names of the victims, but then it struck me that it was a pretty decent memorial, a stadium full of people cheering on the memory of those that died. What a wave of human emotion. With U2 acting a rock and roll servant-kings. Don’t you love that feeling when you’re in a stadium and you’re part of a great big cheer? I really felt that feeling from the TV broadcast. Whatever your political beliefs may be, your feelings for or against U2, I do think that broadcast invited you to be a part of a celebration, and I sincerely appreciated it. Didn’t cost me a dime, either.

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