by Mike Meyer
The Super Bowl seems amazingly iconic for the decline of America. Millions watch it as the largest televised sporting event in America but it is almost exclusively American. It generates millions of dollars and produces endless hours of discussion, anticipation, review, and replay. Until a few years ago it was the great escape from politics, scandals, disasters, and news of the current set of wars.
For the majority who have little interest in a very long, intermittent, and boring game it has become the American religious gathering to worship the power of capitalism in its Advertising aspect. The halftime extravaganza became a strange and closely monitored paradigm of correct entertainment. Nothing impure can be countenanced. As popular culture is always mildly or seriously disruptive the half time show became increasingly limited to safe and aging artists. A small token for the youth became nostalgia for the aged.
Designation of the stadium for the event would bring thousands of people and millions more dollars as life long dreams are achieved in attending the service. We have watched this grow over the last fifty years. It was never questioned.
For decades the brutal reality of the entertainment was simply ignored. The players made fortunes and knew what they were doing. The human fascination with heroes was built on their sacrifice. That only the stars made fortunes was not something to be discussed. It was always for glory.
The steady transition to POC players due to their power, speed, and grace became a justification for national racism. After all this was their one area of opportunity. Young boys made high school football nearly professional in form and universities ‘hired’ the best players with the promise of a shot at the pros and maybe a token degree. The nation feasted, worshiped, drank and slept well after the great game.
Then in the second decade of the 21st century the faith began to fail. Steadily the reality of the ‘game’ on its players became known. Better medical and rapidly developing science made the physical destruction and mental degradation of the players inescapable. Parents that could afford to ignore the scholarship opportunities given by white privileged discouraged or denied ‘going out for football’ in middle schools and high schools. This was, of course, a racial, ethnic, and class division.
The millions still watched and the desperate thousands sought the chance to attend. The Super Bowl is the great distraction from the, now, endless wars and the incredible American lurch into fascism and blatant white supremacy. A steadily growing number, myself included, could no longer watch. Millions of those that did watched uneasily from their seats in cloud of guilt.
For many the mindless, magical illusions of the paradise of endless consumption presented in complete disregard to a rapidly growing planetary disaster thickened the cloud of guilt. As racism, misogyny, and bigotry became barriers to sales targets, the corporate entities tried socially aware messaging. This, of course, was immediately weaponized in the national war between denial, bigotry, and sacred racism and the need for something very new that has come to look amazingly like species adulthood.
There were few things as quintessentially American as Super Bowl Sunday. You can burn a flag and only the usual people will scream. But Super Bowl Sunday was, arguable, the last unifying ritual at the center of the American culture. Christmas is shared across all Western societies and used as a advertising tool planet wide. The Fourth of July is the national holiday but that’s only beer and burnt hamburgers that are indistinguishable from any middle America summer weekend.
The Super Bowl could be used as the tool for friendly talk or token competition based on regions and teams between people of any rank, class, or ethnicity. This was the symbol of being American whatever language you spoke. Super Bowl was the same in any language.
It’s not yet gone but it has lost its meaning. Just as the collapse of the political system and terrible parody of the Trump presidency is being frantically propped up by national media, in their hearts everyone knows that it is over. We are all becoming woke.
The childish toys are no longer magical. The games are no longer real. They don’t even stand for anything but broken bodies and exploited lives. Damn, we don’t want this but what can we do? We see it now for what it is.
Those that don’t are from another world. And the usual percentage are convinced it is all a plot by someone dark and hidden. They will mock and deny and rage against the heresies that are destroying everything that they see themselves as being.
The rest of us don’t feel any better but we know we need to change. That dark force that is destroying the, now, old America is the future that we must become to survive and in which we may finally hope to thrive.