Everybody knows that the commercial messages between the play-action amount to a national Rorschach test, and this year's collection made us look more psychopathic than ever - starting with the advertisement for the Chevy Silverado: Fade in on a devastated nameless American city, the buildings smashed, the streets littered with debris, a gray ash coating over everything, and no living creatures in evidence.... A newspaper headline proclaims "2012 Mayan Apocalypse...." How reassuring! Wait! Something stirs behind a heap of rubble... it cracks open... and out drives a plucky American male lumpen "worker" dude behind the wheel of a gleaming giant pickup truck. He is soon joined by other men and their trucks, all of them blithely unfazed by the end-of-the-world.
A curious scenario. What's the take away? I wondered, of course, where these plucky fellows would look for their next fill-up in the devastated landscape. Surely the service stations would miss the next scheduled fuel truck delivery. Are American men not expected to think beyond the immediate moment they are in? Are they on an intellectual level with lemurs and Holstein steers?
The Superbowl pageant is a window into the condition of American manhood, and the view is pretty pathetic. It's a picture of men who feel so weak, insecure, and fearful that they have to compensate with fantasies of limitless destructive power. Ads for several new movies and (I think) video games followed the Silverado apocalypse romp. There were unifying themes throughout. All depicted the problems of life as 1) coming from outside our own society (or world); 2) in the form of aliens who wield mystifying technological destructive power; and 3) leaving a few human remnants on a smoldering landscape after a cosmic showdown.
These onslaughts from elsewhere in the universe always end with superior American guile and the latest technology defeating the purblind invaders. The aliens are vanquished by Apple computers, Air Force stunt pilots, and a little extra help from God Almighty, who is surely on our side. From these realms of engineered grandiosity, we slip in and out of the grinding ground game in Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis, another pseudo-military operation loaded with acronyms and jargon intended to confer an illusion of control and competence.
The reality out there in "flyover" land is an audience of diabetic fat men in clownish loungewear slouched on sofas in foreclosed houses enjoying stupendous portions of cheesy and lard-laden foodstuffs between cigarettes and beers. They have a lot to worry about and they have no idea how they might overcome their financial, familial, and medical problems. The real onslaughts besetting the nation in realms such as banking fraud, money in politics, peak oil, climate uncertainty, and economic contraction are at once too complex for the diabetic fat men to comprehend, and grossly misreported in the public arena, were Cable TV and newspapers work the levers of propaganda for one client or another.
Then there was the grotesque half-time extravaganza featuring Madonna, which was a weird parallel commentary on the state of American womanhood. Pretending to be ageless and indomitable, the old trooper performed a variety of standing crotch-locks on her Praetorian guard of hoofers and then stumbled more than once on the ridiculous bleacher stage-set that looked as if was designed to trip the performers up. Message to American women: be sluts as long as you possibly can because there is nothing else for you in this culture. I couldn't help thinking that American chanteuses of yesteryear - say, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Carole King - sang about adult problems and emotions with a greater thematic range, and would never have subjected themselves to such a display of pitiful narcissism. (Did anyone notice that Madonna's corps de ballet all wore her monogram on their loincloths?) America needs a prayer, all right, but I don't think they'll find it by calling Madonna's name.
Meanwhile, in whatever remains of the Real World, we have a couple of things to be concerned about this week. One is the ultimatum tendered to Greece by the Lords of Euroland to make a deal or die-dog-die. Last time I checked, they had until 11 a.m. today Berlin time to reply... and nothing happened.
The other matter is the pending possible robo-signing settlement with the TBTF banks, which is designed to let them off the hook for any and all future lawsuits in this matter if they pay a penny-ante fine. This latest ghastly trespass of the rule-of-law is a joint project of the Obama White House and 50 states attorneys general in an epic act of perfidy. You can read about it at Yves Smith's excellent Naked Capitalism blog. Your country is being stolen from you. I hope you are getting ready to re-occupy it with your bodies and minds. Don't plan on giant magical robots flying to your rescue. Video above: GM's Chevy Silverado ad for Superbowl XLVI. From (http://youtu.be/XxFYYP8040A). Note: may have pop-up ads within the ad..