Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Let's Take It Back

by Wayne Robins

Sometimes you just get lucky. Because I love football, I hurried to post my impressions of the Super Bowl half time show (see Feb. 1, below) and missed Janet Jackson's contrived publicity stunt.

But Jackson's breast-baring was just a symptom of a culture gone wrong. In a post-mortem, one ad executive correctly characterized the $2.3 million-per 30-second commercials as a stupidity sweepstakes. The MTV-produced entertainment spectacle on fellow Viacom network CBS said all that needs to be said about how the concept of media synergy has backfired like that flatulent Budweiser horse. The production itself--you were expecting better from MTV?--was so devoid of organization or sensibility that it didn't even rise to the level of trash. And the NFL, like CBS and MTV, by slavishly feeding stupidity to a demographic it already regards as moronic, showed contempt for its own "product," which happened to be a great football game.

Maybe we were lucky to catch all this. I think we were delivered a defining moment in American cultural history, a moment when all the pretenses have been stripped, and we can all reflect on just how low we've let our institutions sink: Rock and roll, television, advertising, show business, pro football, the perversion of the American flag. This is the nadir, people. Let us learn and rise from it.

The best review of the Super Bowl spectacle came from New York City taxi driver Travis Bickle. "All the animals come out at night," Bickle has said. "Sick, venal...Some day a real rain will come and wash all the real scum off the streets."

Let's take back our pop culture, now! Suggestions?

(c) 2004 Wayne Robins. All rights reserved, except Bickle monologue written by Paul Schrader.

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