Monday, February 6, 2012

Eximius Scaphium XLVI

A fierce contest between the neighboring and rival civitates: The unfavored Gigantes of Nova Eboraci delivered a decisive blow to the Bonorum of Nova Britannia. Much skill and fortitude was displayed, but the ultimate victory seemed to be mostly in the hands of the Parcae: Nona, Decima and Morta, who spun their webs of luck and fate. I mean, the first points on the board came from a safety, for Jupiter's sake!

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 80 million 111.3 million viewers the finger. Nearby was a band of annoying fratboys in joke-shop afros called LMFAO. Next to them was a singer whose stage-name was coined from a group sex act. Following up was a guy who had a monster hit titled with the same word that centers the annoying fratboy's band. The Valentine-themed ad featuring Adriana Lima in black lingerie was either for flowers or a really expensive escort service. The female embodiment of the Fiat 500 Abarth wants you to lick latté foam out of her cleavage. This all made the inevitable Go Daddy ad look like a Disney Channel promo.

• 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.

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