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The cynicism of the National Football League is apparently boundless. After taking a break from mostly not watching the game – we were visiting with friends and there was some great food on the table and even better conversation in the next room – I was intrigued by the prospect of both Shakira AND Jennifer Lopez appearing in stages of near nudity on the halftime show. Most everyone knows that the halftime show is designed to pander to our basest instincts – wardrobe malfunctions and penis guitars – so what red-blooded American with a mouthful of chili would miss a chance to see that?
It was obvious for some time that we were going to be in for a boobs and booty extravaganza, and as an ambulatory heterosexual white male who identifies as a meat-eating door-kicker I could not pass up a chance to revel in my exceptional privilege: we were watching the game in, gasp, 5G, and my hearing aids were fixed last week so I could actually hear the stupid pre-game banter between Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson and the rest of the cartoon characters who pontificate endlessly on the genius of all things football.
Shut up and dance, I always say.
Football, I’ve long believed, is better enjoyed without sound. It’s far more entertaining to sit on the sofa and conjure thought bubbles over the heads of the various football pundits and rules interpreters. It is a fun game to play with like minds, nerds like me who harbor an affinity for improvisation and sit on a mental warehouse of old movie lines. I can easily burn up three hours of otherwise precious time in such pursuits.
Confession: I was not disappointed in the boobs, bootie, and gratuitous crotch-shots provided by the big Latina and Puerto Rican pride celebration between halves of football, although it was apparent to me that the NFL is straddling a strange line between celebrating family values and a move toward the adult movie industry – witness the tear-jerker, counterpoised opening featuring a young kid running a football across the country, encouraged by football heroes old and new, boostered by hard-working farmers and angelic single mothers, pausing just long enough to evoke waves of selfless patriotism at the Pat Tillman statue, and finally bolting out onto the field in real life, chased by a wildly leaping pageant of joyous youth in various jerseys. Cue the fireworks. It’s brilliant marketing but hard to square with the grindhouse promiscuity and gratuitous beaver shots from the halftime show, versions of which I’ve seen in various Mexican honky-tonks on my old police beat.
Which is just more evidence of our cultural split-personality.
Not that I care that much. I keep trying to elevate my vision, which any decent tactical driving instructor – or race-car driver — will tell you is the key to driving fast and staying on the road. Shuffle steering helps but a high visual horizon will keep you in the race between the twists and turns and the traffic full of drivers who have never realized that driving is actually a team sport.
Which is another irony of the NFL that is hard to square: the notion of a team sport dominated by individuals. I can’t imagine a tougher job than being an NFL coach and trying to eke out some selflessness in a billion dollar industry full of employees who can buy and sell the entire coaching staff. I wonder how much actual coaching goes on or if it’s mostly just pleading for cooperation.
Maybe I can be forgiven my trespasses on the sanctity of these football questions because I got a bad prescription for progressive glasses and I’ve been dizzy for two weeks. Unassing that problem has been a considerable challenge, compounded by my inveterate hypochondria which convinces me that instead of declining eyesight and shitty glasses I have a terminal disease. Which is really just another advertisement for staying far the fuck away from Web MD.
A cure for many ailments is to go shooting which I was able to do despite the football championship hysteria. Even through my aggravating disequilibrium I was able to test drive my new Gen 5 Glock 17 to satisfaction. I had dropped a Zev trigger in it, a tungsten guide rod and extended mag release, and as a self-indulgent topper slapped a new red dot sight on the slide. I was able to zero the sight and fire off a few hundred rounds in various drills despite the looming passage of Nazi-era gun laws in formerly free Oregon. There is something to be said for blazing hammered pairs to the torso of a target resembling, not on purpose but apropos, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.
My wife made a solid observation about the half-time show, which was that they might as well just do the whole thing naked. Never the prude, I couldn’t agree more. And I think they should probably just play football naked too, which would likely reduce the number of head injuries and also provide a nod to the ancient Greek origins of various full contact sports. Imagine a naked kick-off, or a naked punt return. There was a lingerie football league for a while, but the novelty of that and roadside bikini baristas wore off at about the same time.
America is a strange place, isn’t it, always drifting and yearning, and reaching and collapsing, and in so many directions at once.
Appreciate your thoughts.
We have 8 little grands who love all the festivities so they were all here during the big game.
We turn off the tv at halftime and forward through commercials that we may not want them to see. We monitor and do our best to give them a healthy life and try to foster healthy hearts and mindsets to make healthy choices by wisdom and love.
Each person and family has the power to do that.
I doubt what comes through tv will get any better or healthier for the family to view.
We wont give up our personal super powers for the sake of celebration, entertainment or social agreement.
As our culture leans toward reflecting the Romans I encourage myself remembering choice is powerful and we will attempt to do our best with it.
Good article as always
Craig Rullman says
Thanks Rebecca. “I doubt what comes through tv will get any better or healthier for the family to view.” I couldn’t agree more. The level of toxicity is unbelievably high and extremely damaging. Thanks for being here.
Rick Schwertfeger says
“Football, I’ve long believed, is better enjoyed without sound.” My friend, it ain’t just football. Over the last, say, ten years or so, increasingly I watch sporting events on tv with the Mute Button all the way on! God knows how many thousands of baseball games I’ve watched in my increasingly long life. I mean, I remember Bill Martin’s difficult, likely game saving catch in the 1953 World Series! The point being: I know what’s going on! And it’s just more peaceful with the sound off. Sometimes I’ll turn the sound on to hear the expanation of a replay or the like. But I don’t need the endless account — I’m watching the game just like the announcers are! One day last summer I was watched a Texas Rangers game. From the first pitch, which is unusual for me. Anyway, when the last out was recorded and I switched off the tv, my wife popped out of her office and said, “Do you realize that you just watched an entire game with the sound off?” Well, yeah.
I’m a big ice hockey fan. It’s a very fast, sometimes violent game. It’s nerve racking enough without having the announcers’ high tension blabber in my ear. And, yes, football is almost the same. I used to like color analyst Kirk Herbstreit of college football. But over the years he’s descended into being the “too smart for the room” guy. He spends 80 hours the week before a game studying every conceivable nuance of both teams. Then between plays he rapidly rattles on providing us with his insights — most of which are unnecessary for those of us who know the game and just watched the same play! Good grief, shut up!
Craig Rullman says
I wrote some time ago that at some age, I don’t remember precisely when, a vow of silence became completely comprehensible to me. What, after all, is there to say?
we love hearing what you have to say ?
Rick Schwertfeger says
Please excuse a second Comment — this one more meaningful, I hope. I long have thought that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 historical novel “The Scarlet Letter,” about adultery in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th Century is a quintessential American novel. For it explores the conflict between “righteous,” proper, and indeed repressed behavior around genuine love and sexuality — and the expression of those genuine human desires and emotions. IMO that is a major theme in American culture right up to yesterday’s half-time show. We, and our children/young people are bombarded with all kinds of expressions of sexuality while at the same time being preached at re: righteous, proper, disciplined behavior. I, too, am not a prude, and believe in very positive expression and enactment of healthy human desires and sexuality. But, boy, our culture sure is conflicted, and repressed about it all!
Craig Rullman says
I’m not sure that various notions of “righteous, proper, disciplined” behavior necessarily equate to repression, but our culture certainly seems conflicted.
Ugly Hombre says
“A cure for many ailments is to go shooting”
And damn sure a good day to go to the range is Super Bowl Sunday! No body there, took my 1911 Mil Spec with fat Sambar grips, and a gritty, creepy trigger and two boxes of shells, a thermos of Coffee, got solitude, fun, the smell of gunpowder, nostalgia and more hits than usual. A banner day. Nothing is more Americana fun than a retro .45.
I don’t got the football gene, to me its a nice day with no traffic. Shikara shaking her booty would be interesting though. lol America is conflicted for damn sure about sex its weird. In my day if you told a girl “you look sexy in that dress ” you would get a bright smile a wink and a “thanks”! not a “bastard I’m calling my lawyer!”
Must be confusing to be a young dude those days.
I turned off the sound on the idiot box about a month ago put on subtitles. Joe Namath shilling for a medical insurance company was telling me to “call medicare!” and “get what I deserrrvve” JHC wth happened to you BroadwayJoe?? yeesh…
I lack the football gene myself. There is so much just standing around in football. I do watch the Super Bowl every year though. I skipped the half time show. But I always do.
Spot on assessment of the NFL. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I chose to watch Sea Disasters on the Smithsonian channel with my eight-year-old who is at a point where he enjoys everything that can be broken if not detonated. My wife and the rest of the kids left with a bowl of chips for the other TV.
But I asked my wife about the halftime show and her response was “meh, same old garbage”. We are all so used to it that we can’t even conjur up disgust anymore. Just the PG gladiator games in Panem.
However, I about fell out of my seat when you mentioned your progressive glasses. I put my first pair on yesterday and I have been nursing a raging headache ever since. I just spent 90 minutes walking around Sam’s Club looking through an aquarium. The worst part is I found out that I can no longer lie on the couch and look at the television through the bottom 1/4 inch of my glasses. I have to sit up. That, is the huge loss.