It was an unsightly Super Bowl, starting with the Roman Numerals. I resent being forced to work, mentally, and laboriously, to read a number. Life is hard enough. I’m constantly befuddled by packaging, for example, like “blister packages.” You practically need a chainsaw to retrieve a simple pill these days.
Sorry to go all Andy Rooney on you right out of the gate, but c’mon, what’s wrong with calling it Super Bowl 47? Why do I have to delete the X from the L and add the II to the V? I grant you that 47 is kind of an awkward number even in Arabic numerals. It’s not as bad, aesthetically, as 53 or 79, but 47 is never going to be a “hip” number like 44. And in Roman Numerals it’s sheer hell. It’s not a number, it’s an assignment.
Now, the game: Exciting and sloppy. Or sloppy and exciting — you decide.
On the first play, the 49ers lined up incorrectly, violating some nonsensical rule about the wide receiver not being allowed to “cover up” the tight end. Or is it that he HAD to “cover up” the tight end? Again, it’s making my brain work too hard — almost as hard as my brain had to work to understand the plot lines in the commercials. “What’s happening?” I kept asking my companions, as if we were watching “Inception.” Part of the comprehension problem is situational, in that we always watch the Super Bowl in a crowd, amid much chatter and chip-crunching, and there are always subplots in the room, people texting, kids giggling, dogs during roughly half the commercials, which too often had narrative elements that were confusing amid the Super Bowl Party noise. Ominously, the ad that made the most sense to me was the one with the Paul Harvey voice-over about God creating a farmer.
The power outage was weird, suspicious, a little unsettling (I instantly thought “Black Sunday”), and it ensured that “Lights Out” would be part of someone’s front page headline (see San Jose Mercury News). I would suggest that the stadium going dark fits nicely into my “unsightly” theme.
And how about the referees going blind on the crucial 4th-down play at the end, with the Niners knocking at the door? It’s hard, very hard, to throw a game-turning flag in the closing minutes of a Super Bowl. The default position is to let them play. But there’s a point at which you have to say, we’re sorry, you’re not allowed to maul the guy. It looked to my eye as if Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith glommed onto Michael Crabtree as if he wanted a piggyback ride. Smith all but crawled inside Crabtree’s uniform. The holding there clearly impeded Crabtree’s chance to catch the ball, and Jim Harbaugh is probably still, at this very moment, looking for a headset or a ball cap or something to throw to the ground in furious protest. In a football game, calls go both ways, and you win some and you lose some — but this was the Super Bowl, in the closing minutes, on 4th down, with everything at stake, and by losing that call the junior Harbaugh lost the game.
And is there a goofier way for a winning team to end a game than by taking an intentional safety, running around in the end zone to burn time off the clock? Yes, it was probably the right thing to do. Just looked unsightly to me. Where’s the dignity?
The Super Bowl is our day of national vulgarity. Everything about the event is over-the-top, most of all the halftime show. I kept thinking that Beyonce didn’t need to try so hard. She had me at hello. At several points it turned into a workout video.
I know, I know, I should go watch “Downton Abbey,” or just stick to my needlepoint. Maybe find a new recipe for rhubarb pie.