Media revolutionaries picked an excellent year to actively discourage Americans from watching the year’s highest-rated telecast on stupid, old, outdated televisions. Had you not occupied yourself with at least two other devices, you might have drifted off during Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night on NBC. Live or not, the night felt somehow like a rerun.
The game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants stayed close (ending with the Giants winning, 21-17) and became technically exciting in its final few minutes but, curiously, it also seemed to crawl along.
The commercials blazed no new creative territory and even verged on dud gags and filed-down ideas. Like hot wings lacking spice, Go Daddy experienced an impotence brought on by its own puerility, while the E-trade baby ran out of things to say. A little boy urinated in a swimming pool to get you interested in software to do your taxes. A head popped out of a man’s shoulder to get you to visit a car sales Web site. Ferris Bueller came back, played by the doughy and appropriately aged Matthew Broderick — but it turned out all he had to show was this year’s Honda.
Part of that is everybody’s mutual fault: We opened all the presents early. All but a few of the mythically expensive Super Bowl ads had been available to view days ago, online. They were socially shared last week, judged to pieces and thus old news.
A plus, I suppose, is that letting everybody see the commercials before they air has robbed a particular Super Bowl party guest — the guy who haughtily shushes everyone in the room when commercials come on — of all his sofa-sectional tyranny. No one needs to pay attention to what’s on the screen; everyone’s already yakked it to death on iPhones. In fact, the ultimate goal of modern Super Bowl consumption is to not even be in the same room together anymore. Best just to be linked virtually. Such is the disunited state of America.
After much groaning and lowered expectations, only Madonna can be said to have outdone herself, executing a flashy half-time tribute to her own image (“Y-O-U, Madonna”) but also honoring the concept of longevity and old-fashioned pop stardom, reaching back through her catalogue of hits and enlisting the help of some present-day acts that the kids listen to.
Someone please give her a Boniva for her creaky yet sturdy bones. Arriving by a Trojan-pulled chariot-throne, then stamping around in sky-high stiletto boots, the singer leaned on her muscular dancers, literally, who lifted her up to platforms and risers and tipped her into slow-motion cartwheels with a certain delicate assist. She sat on the shoulders of one of the guys from LMFAO. She shook cheerleader pompoms with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.
M.I.A. flipped the bird and mighta-sorta uttered a bad word during Madonna’s rap portion. Knicker-knotting commenced almost immediately. If nothing else, we get to see how far things have come since Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” eight years ago. Have we evolved? Which is to say, have we devolved enough to let it blow over?