If you didn’t see Sunday’s contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, consider yourself lucky not to have been subjected to the most poorly played and poorly officiated football game in the 40-year history of the Super Bowl.
Perhaps more importantly, though, consider yourself blessed that you weren’t exposed to the many not-so-subtle attempts at misogynist messaging and ass-kissing censorship ever committed by the NFL and ABC TV during the course of the annual weekend-long football orgy.
The Super Bowl’s halftime show and its once cleverly conceived commercials used to be reasons enough to watch four hours of TV on a Sunday afternoon, no matter who was playing in the game. This year, with the Rolling Stones headlining the halftime bill and a slew of new and supposedly exciting commercials lined up to debut, it seemed, at least on the surface, things would be much the same this year.
But after Janet Jackson exposed her nipple at halftime last year, a self-imposed 5-second delay on all broadcast material went into effect this year, and the NFL and ABC made sure nothing would ever be the same.
Just ask Al Michaels and Mick Jagger.
In the song "Start Me Up," Jagger’s famous line, "You’d make a dead man come" – a line that has been repeated on radio stations for the past 30 years – was blanked out. Deleted on TV, it was also scrubbed during the show so people attending the game at Ford Field couldn’t hear it either. But Jagger and the Stones weren’t alone in being silenced over the dumbest things.
At one point, veteran sportscaster Michaels found it impossible to explain why a sidelined player’s pants were down around his ankles. "Even with 5-second delay, I don’t want to go there," a cautious Michaels said to co-host John Madden about a simple groin pull.
Then there was the show itself. Not only was the game a collection of mistakes on both sides with perhaps the worst officiating in the history of the game, the production’s over-hyped commercials were so mind-numbingly stupid that some of them were actually offensive.
One such ad featured Jessica Simpson in a revealing red dress hawking cheesy-poof pizza crusts to post-pubescent boys. Then there was swimsuit model Brooke Burke presiding over the creation of a Burger King Whopper featuring other women dressed as vegetables, condiments, and one made up as an all-beef patty – an actual piece of meat smothered under a steaming pile of empty calories and bad taste!
Actually, some of the commercials were kind of cute, particularly those produced by Budweiser. But what neither Bud nor the NFL would say is the more alcohol that you consume during the Big Game, the more likely it is a woman- wife, lover, daughter, mother, cheerleader – will get hurt. In years past, incidents of violence against women have tended to go through the ceiling on the day of the Super Bowl.
Something many pundits missed in all their Monday morning quarterbacking was that the NFL actually made an attempt to reach men who marginalize and perhaps victimize the women in their lives by running 30-second spots depicting older guys and their daughters coming together – and not over a beer.
But, just like the Seahawks’ attempts to play above the terrible officiating, those types of messages were wholly insufficient to overcome all the otherwise anti-female messages promulgated by other sponsors and the male-dominated NFL itself.
Between all the musical mind fucking that went on during halftime, the commercialization of the game by an organization whose male employees routinely objectify and rough up the women in their lives, the blatant censorship that we’ve all come to not only expect but apparently now accept without question, and the confusing outcome of a game that failed miserably to exhibit the best characteristics of American competition, this year’s Super Bowl came nowhere near to what its name implies.