Every day we see on the news how our economy, our country, and our species, globally, is slipping.
We think globally and act locally. We adopt charities in Africa. We occupy Wall Street. We lift up the common man, worry for the middle and lower classes. And above all, we love resenting, and hating, the rich.
Then we rush together for the Super Bowl to celebrate the most ostentatious display of wealth, insensitivity and celebrity idolatry imaginable.
To me, the most glaring contradiction is nothing new to sports and media, just more obnoxious in these times -- having a major car manufacturer give a brand new sports car to the multimillionaire who was just crowned a bigger multi-millionaire. While Detroit is running commercials during the same game that acknowledges, in words and pictures, the Super Real World of joblessness, foreclosures and suffering families in fallen cities, they follow up by giving a brand new sports car to the least needy person in the world. And we scream and cheer. (What?) Even Eli didn't care. Did you hear in the audio track, "Oh Eli, wait! You might want the keys!" Guess how many families could use the car Eli already forgot he had?
But this year's crowning irony were the two words at the end of Madonna's millenia-spanning spend-a-thon of enormous casts of dancers, soldiers, and cheerleaders jumping across moving sets of chariots, grandstands and marching Roman armies, navigating multiple stage transformations and the additional counter-celebrity who joined her. At the end, they present the phrase, "World Peace." (WHAT?)
If the Super Bowl was just the yearly ritual of rabid football fans who were loyal, captivated students of the games, I would have no problem with deserving football junkies spending whatever they want to express a love of the game, their passion, the moment.
But it's not a football event, it's a yearly American reaffirmation that no matter what we say in our self-righteous blogs, our political discussions, and twitter feeds to CNN, we really do love our celebrities, we do love that they are rich, we love mega-productions of epic scale, and we all secretly feel that if we raise a beer to the screen and scream that one day a year, even if we don't know a touchdown from a home run, we count too; I am a part of this bombastic show too; I am in the midstream of what matters most today; I'm part of what my world is obsessing about right now. I can always return to my more-aware, more sophisticated, more critical self tomorrow, and remember that I hate suffering, and therefore the evil money empires that enable it.
But first, I want to find out how they got those monkeys into those suits! That was awesome!
Tom Townsend is co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Rodgers Townsend, a DDB Company located in St. Louis. Previously, he was Senior Vice President/Group Creative Director at DMB&B.