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Super Bowl 45 Not So Super Window on America

I really have no idea what my Grandfather would say if he were still in this world and had watched the four plus hours of Super Bowl programming that I did last Sunday. Actually, I think I do know. I think he would have said, “What the hell?” in a generally catch-all sort of way that means, “Am I supposed to understand what’s going on here? Is anybody?”

“Sadly Granddad – yes, we are . . .”

Let’s start with the game itself. Good game. Great game even. Owing to some injuries to the Packer’s defense, the Steelers were able to keep it close, and watching journeyman-superstar (he somehow manages to be both) Aaron Rodgers throw those Favre-like laser passes right on target was amazing.  (And with no interceptions!)  Hurray for the Packers – gotta pull for the only NFL team owned by the fans.

But outside of the actual game? Let’s see if we can sum it up . . .

Fox offered what felt like 45 years of pre-game coverage that was all but a Pizza Hut commercial. How many different ways can they try to convince you to buy their “new” product which amounts to nothing more than a pizza cut in strips?  This was followed by about three minutes of real game analysis – the bulk of which seemed to say that the Packers were going to win.

But then Fox ran a rather inspired reading of the Declaration of Independence, read by a variety of stars and public figures (From Colin Powell to Bart Starr) who were joined by everyday Americans. It was surreal really – so seemingly out of place amongst all the glitz and schmaltz that was being touted, but there it was. You may or may not agree with their political angles, but Fox does seem to do patriotism quite well.

Not so much Christina Aguilera, who gave such a overblown, excessively self inflective (maybe that should be “inflicted?”) rendition of the National Anthem, that it was hard to tell that she didn’t even sing the words right. In lieu of, “O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming,” she sang  “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming.”

Sheesh. That’s a really bad moment.

But perhaps not as bad as the halftime show that featured the “Black Eyed Peas” / “Slash” the washed up druggie guitarist and “Usher” who pumped a mostly steady message of a basely debauched culture so caught up in sex, commercialism and itself that it’s little wonder extremists watching by satellite on the other side of the world are able to sell others on their own God forsaken visions bent on our destruction.

To quote my imagined Grandfatherly response, “What the hell?”

But if we’re going to talk hell and visions of it maybe we should simply watch the television commercials for the upcoming movies that portrayed no less than seven scenarios of mass violence and destruction. What is the fascination with this theme and where does it come from?

Do you remember the feeling after the World Trade Center came down in NY? How utterly gross and inappropriate it felt to depict anything having to do with wiping out human beings on a such a large scale? Where did that go so quickly and why do we revel in it now as though it brings us some sort of perverse joy? Am I missing something here?

Do parents no longer really care that their children who gather around an “American tradition” are force-fed such incredible depictions and images of violence and horror. Who gave Hollywood and the media giants permission to show such obscenities to our children?

Well the answer is, of course, us. We give it to them with our own indifference and blind patronage of all the things that support them.

The truth of the situation seems to be this: The Super Bowl has become a massive crossroads of sport and entertainment and everything we like to enjoy and experience as Americans on a hyper-high sort of level. Unfortunately, it reflects our culture as it really is – and just as we might expect there is both goodness and evil lurking there: the unexpected tear in your eye as a farmer from the Midwest with a tear of his own recites the words that gave freedom to us all . . .  The shock of a commercial that depicts a young man saying all he wants to do is “sleep with her” over and over as he stares at his date. Did you watch too as your impressionable young sons and daughters looked on and wonder how it might affect them?

Freedom, of course, allows us so much opportunity to do good for ourselves and others . . . and it allows us so much opportunity to do bad for ourselves and others. How far are we willing to let it go, I wonder, before some great event brings us back to our senses?

In the meantime, perhaps we should all consider very carefully that which we choose to lift up.

I think our lives as Americans depend on it.

Stuart Revercomb is the Publisher of this newspaper and the  minister at Peace Presbyterian Church in Roanoke.

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