This rap may sound elitist. Well, too bad. Apparently, my already overdeveloped sense of cultural alienation hasn’t stopped growing. Mainstream or Pop Culture in this country has always seemed woefully crass. I understand why so many good artists and writers expatriated to Europe in the old days.
I watched the Super Bowl with friends. Although I’m not devoted to one team, I do love to watch a good game. Some folks think that football’s barbaric, and in certain ways, it is. But I have always liked the sport. God knows there’s lots of excellence out there, and it’s always a pleasure to watch someone great do her thing. You must admit that the contests we watch on the field or the basketball court are far less brutal than real war where, when you lose, you lose your legs or life.
The game was great. What blew my mind and made me feel both out-of-it and old were all the ads and lurid halftime show.
So, first the ads. No shortage, there, of creativity. But what struck me most was how wacky they were. For most of my life I’ve relied on “the edge,” and sought my niche among whatever seemed extreme or odd. Well, I’ve been beaten at my lifelong game. The ads were all bizarre and dumb. A few were funny, too. What used to be beyond the pale is just the norm these days. I think we’ve seen a culture shift derived from 50 years of smoking dope. I feel like Rip Van Winkle – left behind.
And, while we’re on the subject of behind, I marveled at the garish halftime show. It was, of course, extravagant and loud – overdone The American Way, reminding me of Washington D.C., when they put on their gross (e.g., inaugural) events – voluminous, without much grace. The same old same old: Bread and Circuses. You keep the populace enthralled with light and sound and stripper poles, so they won’t ever really stop and think. Then, while they sleep, you bomb Iraq and build the pinche wall.
Like most men, I’m obsessed with sex, including, Thank You Lord, pornography. But, speaking of the halftime show, what we were given seemed obscene to me, not just because of crotch-shots and unending pelvic thrusts, but because it was really quite macho and coarse, a tasteless fusion of gymnasium and topless bar – parodic, not erotic in the least. There was no hint of femininity. The choreography was good. The dancers all seemed fit; but fit for what? I must agree with those who found it crude. Pulsing, orgasmic gushers of bright light and sleazy patent-leather bondage gear did not seem quite appropriate to families watching sports. Hey, I’ve just had a great idea: Let’s teach our children to be pigs!
Along with obesity and opioids, ours is a culture of high-volume, distracting swill, designed less to nourish than to distract and numb. When you go to a movie house these days, most previews feature violence or creepy horror crap, and only rarely something that might really make you think about real life. What’s offered is designed to tap into our L.C.D., the primal animus and lust and fear. Then, later, we can drag our dazed, adrenaline-bedraggled brains into a voting booth somewhere, to exercise our very low capacity for thought. As it turns out, we’re not born blind, we’re taught