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Super Bowl ads invaded by political correctness

Snickers returns to the Super Bowl with another installment in the company's "you're not you when you're hungry" campaign. (Video: MARS)

Perhaps it was often uncouth Republican presidential contender Donald Trump’s ascendancy (or, after Iowa, near-ascendancy). Perhaps it was the need for companies to, in seconds, make their mark on the national consciousness — and pay up to $5 million for the privilege. Perhaps it was the fact that the NFL — a league plagued by claims that it disregards players’ safety and goes easy on players’ domestic assaults and, in Washington, D.C., doesn’t care about offending Native Americans — doesn’t have a light touch.

Whatever the reasons, Super Bowl 50 was invaded by ads that rubbed many the wrong way. And, as the Denver Broncos fought to a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., another battle was fought on social media to determine who was the most offended by the game’s commercials. Some spots, it was said, were:

1. Transphobic

It’s among American film’s most instantly recognizable images: Marilyn Monroe getting her skirt blown up as she stands atop a New York subway grate in “The Seven Year Itch” (1955). In hands of Snickers, however, Ms. Monroe looked a little different without the instant sugar rush that the candy bar provides. In fact, she looked a lot like an actor not known for his comely features: Willem Dafoe. Whether he’s playing a police officer, a gangster or Jesus Christ, Dafoe always looks ready to kill.

So was Snickers slighting transgender women, implying that the chocolate-ified, curvy Monroe looks better than the hungry, bony Dafoe? The tagline was provocative: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

“Hey Snickers, have a Snickers,” Upworthy tweeted. “You get a little transphobic when you’re hungry.”

“What was up w that commercial?” wrote NARAL Pro-Choice America — which stalked the Super Bowl ad PC beat all night, as evidenced below. “Transphobic & implies women OK w being objectified as long as they have snacks.”

Such concerns were dismissed by the tired-of-correctness police.

“Just shut up,” one Twitter user wrote. “Nobody wants to live in a world where you can’t have jokes because someone might be offended. Willem Dafoe was funny.”

“I think people are looking for problems that just aren’t there,” another wrote.

2. Sexist

Do women exist merely to be protected — sheltered from suitors, gainful employment and from the dangers of the open road? That was the impression some got from Super Bowl commercials that seemed to diminish  women — among then, this Hyundai spot starring comedian Kevin Hart out to protect his daughter from the horrors of dating.

Kevin Hart is an overprotective father in Hyundai's Super Bowl ad. (Video: Hyundai)

“In the debut of inevitable sexism in Super Bowl ads, Kevin Hart stars as Classic Stalker Dad in his spot for Car Finder in the Hyundai Genesis sedan,” New York magazine wrote. “… It appears this app is also good for keeping track of daughters who clearly don’t have the agency to take care of themselves on their own dates. Noted.”

“Hey, Hyundai — taking away your daughter’s autonomy and stalking her on a date isn’t funny,” NARAL wrote.

Hyundai was just one of the group’s many targets:

As always, there was a backlash to the backlash.

“Way to dispel the stereotype that women are overly sensitive whiners,” one critic wrote.

3. Racist

It sounded like a good idea at the time: Reunite four cast members from the HBO phenomenon “The Wire” and have them stage a bank robbery.

The Toyota Prius escapes a police chase in the company's Super Bowl ad. (Video: Toyota)

Alas — this is the age of Ferguson, Mo., and O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia, so this sent a mixed message. How did these four white guys successfully flee police without getting gunned down? And where were the black actors?

“Those bank robbers didn’t get away with it because of the Prius,” comedian Michelle Wolf wrote. “They got away with it because they’re white.”

“Oh man, now I’m reading on the Twitter that the Prius ad was racist or something,” another Twitterer wrote. “Hey idiots – pull the giant sticks out of your butts!”

Not everyone is laughing at this Prius Super Bowl commercial

Then there was, ahem, a “Jeffersons”-themed ad where Lil Wayne served dinner to George Washington. The spot, for, is a bit hard to describe:

It was noted: “They do know that George would consider Weezy his lil slave.” (Though, for the record, Washington’s will specified that his slaves should be freed upon his wife’s death, and he was the only Founding Father to make such a provision.)

4. Insensitive to Sept. 11 victims

Perhaps most strangely, a Super Bowl ad even managed to offend the memory of 9/11. Colonial Williamsburg — yes, that place in Virginia where an 18th-century lifestyle is recreated by reenactors churning butter while people wear buckle shoes — included footage of the twin towers falling in its ad. Or, rather, footage of the towers falling in reverse.

“Where did our spirit first take shape and put us on a path of becoming a nation of ‘We the People?'” a narrator wondered. The answer: “It started here.”

Colonial Williamsburg's Super Bowl 50 ad features iconic scenes in American history. (Video: Colonial Williamsburg)

“Using 9/11 footage to drum up interest in a colonial tourist trap is so hacky it wouldn’t even make it past editing in a Family Guy script,” one user tweeted.

Colonial Williamsburg defended itself.

“Forgetting is not an option!” the attraction tweeted. “Every generation has a defining moment. For us: 9/11. Knowledge of history = civic responsibility.”

Trump, the master of the politically incorrect, offered a frank assessment about halfway through the game. Evidently, he was not impressed by the play or the ads.

“So far the Super Bowl is very boring — not nearly as exciting as politics,” he wrote. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”