It's been my schtick here to parse the Super Bowl as some kind of modern Roman spectacle-- So it is with either delight or horror I can report that for the first time the NFL beat me to it. Madonna, the main lip-syncher for the halftime show, was carted out to the main stage by a maniple of the Roman Legion: shiny gold plumed galea, armor and everything. Madge herself initially appeared as a vaguely approximate version of Egyptian royalty, which means she was likely portraying Cleopatra VII Philopator.
A few observations:
• Good close game. I guess. Saw a lot of flubs on the field. And really, since the Giants knocked the 49ers out of contention two weeks ago, I had absolutely no stake in it: It may have well been a Harlem Globetrotters game. I'm sure it made NBC happy: TV market #1 versus TV market #7.
• The coarsening of American public discourse got a huge advance in Super Bowl XLVI. At halftime, we got a 4-fer: M.I.A. gave
• As for the ads: My favorite was Chrysler Group's "Detroit" ad. Clint Eastwood has a silhouette that's as recognizable as a Founding Father and a voice like an overheated, under-lubricated 5-speed transmission. The rest were sort of a blur: Lots of uninventive, laddish stuff this year. I started a count on the number of ads which drew an annoyed sigh from me: I counted ten.
• I've already read some columnist calling the Acura ad featuring the bullet-headed Jerry Seinfeld their favorite. I think you had to have been a "Seinfeld" person to agree (I was a "Friends" person). To me this ad-- where Jer tries to entice some schlub into giving him his reservation for a concept car-- was a tone-deaf, icky example of an obscenely rich guy trying very hard to get his way.
• There was a promo from the NFL (which I guess they can show for free, as opposed to $4 million per half-minute) which cleverly demonstrated the evolution of the rules and safety equipment in football, from it's mudslinging rugby-like origins to the super-padded, tech-helmeted present. It was actually an indirect message from league management to the player's union and countless tort lawyers: "Please don't sue us for your inevitable and debilitating concussion-caused dementia! We're trying really hard, honest!"
• There was an actual MARCHING BAND on the field of the Super Bowl during halftime! Not since 1990 has there been one. I think even those shako-wearing musicians were lip-synching-- or drum-synching, or whatever you may call it.