a super bowl ceasefire?

Monday, February 07, 2011

I spent virtually all of Sunday from about 11am on in front of the television, watching the grand and occasionally ludicrous spectacle known as the Super Bowl. The TV is often ignored in our home, sometimes a week or more will go by and we haven’t turned it on. So it was like a visit to a foreign country for the day, and especially because the tube was exclusively dialed into Fox Sports. In no particular order, and taking a break from the topic of wine, here are my observations.

The day’s flow began with a lineup of Fox Sports guys – mostly ex-jocks – in front of a pizza-filled set, indulging in the sort of banter that sports-obsessed guys are prone to. Mixed in were some interesting profiles of the coaches and players, some prognostications, and an occasional pre-game flash of entertainment. Maroon 5 did a nice number I thought.
Anytime you watch a long block of tv, the ads start to bore you, as they pile on. But the Super Bowl is different; it is supposed to be the crème de la crème of advertising. So anytime an ad appeared, we were riveted. Pre-game there was a lot of blather about upcoming Fox tv shows, the new episode of ‘Glee’ and so on – but here was the outlier – repeated references to an upcoming live interview from the White House featuring Bill O’Reilly grilling President Obama. Say what!?!

Now, apart from the sheer, head-scratching oddity of that bit of programming, placed as it was in the heart of the day’s pre-game football/beer/pizza/fast food/jockspeak frenzy – apart from just that – was the fact that Fox and O’Reilly have spent the past three or four years vilifying Obama and, in the view of many, contributing significantly to the vitriolic and poisonous state of politics in America.

Happily, on this occasion, the us against them attitude on both sides was clearly in check. O’Reilly and Obama managed a few grins between them, and the interview touched on serious international and domestic issues, as well as establishing that the President does in fact know a bit about football. Content aside, it marked a long overdue and very welcome return to civil dialogue, one that should – that must – be led by the broadcast media. I only wish I could have listened in to the conversation among more regular Fox viewers who stumbled onto this unexpected non sequitur in the day’s programming.

The game itself was excellent, with the sort of momentum shifts that make football so interesting and unpredictable. The halftime show was worthy of the Olympics, and it too paid homage to peaceful notions of love, citizenship, honor and the glory of the American way of life. The momentum building both on and off the field was fascinating to watch.

Where things really hit the wall was in the advertising. Not only stupid, but also demeaning and downright venal ads proliferated throughout the broadcast. Babies being smashed against walls. People being mugged with cans of soda pop. A particularly thoughtless and completely off-color ad for Groupon managed to turn the destruction of an ancient civilization into fodder for half price Tibetan dining. Note to Groupon – you are beneath contempt. Go away.

All in all, however, ads aside, it was a day of optimism, of hope, of good energy and positive momentum. May it continue, may it spread, and may it bring us all into a happier, more peaceful, and constructive time in America.


Anonymous said...

Obama shouldn't give that buffoon O'Reilly the time of day! By agreeing to be interviewed by him, Obama strengthens the ridiculous notion that O'Reilly is a legitimate journalist, instead of a hypocritical clown of the Faux News circus - and BTW I totally agree with you about Groupon...

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was thinking! O'Reilly has totally ruined the non-partisan, just, and fair news journalism that Keith Olbermann and Chris Myers have established

PaulG said...

A reduction of the shouting, name calling, and general hostility on all sides would perhaps mark a return to a genuine dialogue. That is the only point I was trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Calling O'Reilly a buffoon, clown, etc., doesn't imply that MSNBC is fair. Obviously, they're just as biased - just saying the the President of the United States shouldn't lend credibility to any of these "journalists".

Post a Comment

Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted ASAP. Thanks!