Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Whose Will Triumphed?
Anheuser-Busch's $75 Army Beer Stein with icons
I should begin by saying that I didn’t watch the Superbowl.
I never have.
Oh, sure a couple of times in the past, when working for a local TV affiliate carrying this triumph of our overly excessive national will, the event blared from monitors as I waited to direct a newscast or insert a local commercial break but, unlike Lot’s wife, I didn’t look.
I’ve never been a big fan of football; its crude bravado, false masculinity and monstrous violence always, to me, seemed revoltingly akin to Roman and Aztec blood sport.
Of course, I should also explain that my father was a 50’s era defensive center for a rather famous professional football team and coach, my grandfather was a major donor to the football program of a local Catholic university and little gay theatrically-inclined me grew up in close proximity to this bloody and brutal “game”.
Unlike so many other American boys, however, my father did not insist that I join the grade school or high school teams.
My father, the youngest child of poor Irish immigrant parents and the only one to attend college, had his entire education financed with football scholarships.
He was pleased that I did not have to play football and was always proud and supportive of my interest in the arts.
Certainly the weird theatrical experiences I forced my parents to attend during my brief college days were testament to their parental love as well as a reflection of the Irish culture’s celebration of the arts and the gift of blarney.
Interestingly and, perhaps, dangerously, the football of my youth is not the football of post-millennial America.
Modern pro football, as the last two Superbowls’ clearly prove is not simply a physical contest between two opposing teams.
Professional football’s season finale has become a schizophrenic pagan orgy of patriotic corporate excess way beyond what used to be the bounds of traditional American culture.
And, of course, we shamelessly broadcast it to a world already nervous with our ongoing national evolution.
As America weeps its post Superbowl beer hall tears over a commercial about returning soldiers, an aging McCartney’s explosive rendition of Live and Let Die and yet another win by a team called Patriots, this cultural exile has to admit that our military industrial complex scored a tremendous psychological victory Sunday evening.
Most modern Americans, of all political stripes, have grown to love the daylong game-event they have been conditioned to expect.
And who could deny the triumphant imagistic power evoked with the soldier/actors (link PDF format) portraying returning soldiers and air travelers in the now famous Anheuser-Busch commercial?
Sunday’s event seems to have a political media resonance unlike all that have gone before it.
What that resonance is likely to create is anyone’s guess.
Images: NFL, Anheuser-Busch, Google