Shakira, Jennifer Lopez

The Super Bowl

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Rule number one…

You don’t let the opening act upstage you.

We know J.Lo can’t sing, but we always thought she was a fly dancer.

But Shakira trumped her on both counts, if I was J.Lo’s manager, I’d be hiding.

The Super Bowl wasn’t so super until Joe Namath and the Jets beat the Colts back in ’69. What did the Eagles sing?

Namath was arrogant, the Colts were the establishment. Joe played by his own rules, with his moustache, Bachelors III and his fur coat, when that was still a thing. Joe was brash, and he lived up to the rep. Only true fans can remember the quarterback of the Colts. Or the QB of any winning team. But Joe was a star, he made history in one afternoon. No one was paying attention before, the American Football League was seen as a joke. And in one game, it was par, if not better.

The NFL ground it out with brutes, it was a team effort, you didn’t stand out, or if you did you were humble.

Joe Namath was not humble.

Nor were the Beatles, Cream or the rest of the acts that followed the lads from Liverpool into our consciousness. Everybody picked up an instrument, they wanted some of what those on stage got.


Now people don’t want their progeny to get anywhere near the gridiron. And after watching a couple of collisions yesterday, I can see why. Is it worth it to sacrifice decades of your life for one moment of glory? Parents teach you not to, they tell you life is long, but Roger Goodell and the rest of the jockocracy have punted their responsibility, as long as it makes money, the players are fungible.

But I did watch yesterday. My first game of the season. Sans commercials, would I? Sans Mahomes, definitely not.

That’s another thing about the music of yore, it was never subsidiary, it always led. It was on a plane above and never compromised, which is why it became a religion. I mean can you believe in Post Malone after he stumbled in a convenience store at the mercy of…who was it, Budweiser?

And if you were alive back then, you know there was a backlash against contact sports. It did not sustain. Nothing sustained after the Iranian hostage crisis and the election of Ronald Reagan.

The hostage crisis stoked nationalism. It was rah-rah, all of the time. You could not question authority, the military was good, everything the youth believed in was thrown overboard, especially when Reagan lowered taxes and legitimized greed. Once again, money changes everything.

So Mahomes delivered. He played by the rules until the Chiefs fell behind. Occasionally running the ball.

But that’s not what we came to see. We wanted the Air Raid. And when the Chiefs were losing and went to the no huddle offense and Mahomes aired it out…it was a wonder to behold.

Excellence. It still amazes us. Grace under pressure. Reggie Miller wanted the ball with less than a minute left. Michael Jordan too. They delivered when we knew we could not.

So, subsequent to the Jets’ triumph in 1969, the game was usually bad. The Super Bowl was all hype and no action. Until a few decades back, when suddenly the games got good.


By then we were all watching because of “1984,” Steve Jobs’s mini-movie that only aired once and changed the paradigm.

But few have the creativity of Jobs. He was willing to be serious on a day of frivolity, he wanted to make a point. A countercultural point, a Joe Namath, child of the sixties point…that the man can’t be trusted, don’t follow history like a lemming, think for yourself, chart a new course, dare to be different and better.

So now it’s the game and the ads.

But unlike Apple, today’s corporations, having spent so much money, rerun the ads ad infinitum, until the joke no longer plays and you wince.

And yesterday, even the new corporate titans were tone-deaf.

Google storing our data? How ignorant can they be, in an era where privacy is on everybody’s lips! Promote better results, some of the “free” stuff you offer, don’t tell us you’re our buddy and we should trust you with our info….you know they’re gonna cough it up.

Just like Facebook did with Cambridge Analytica. They didn’t even realize the value of the data! And yesterday Facebook runs an ad about irrelevant groups. Who are they appealing to? Youngsters are all on Instagram and the oldsters who are not invested in Facebook never will be. How about a mea culpa? A promise to vet political ads? No, Facebook is like the Colts, it wants us to believe everything’s copacetic, there are no kinks in their armor, they’re godhead and will always triumph.

No.

Now the funny thing is today is just like the sixties. Starting with Bernie Sanders. The septuagenarian who is beloved by the youth. This is what the DNC does not understand, the youth are the future, and they don’t believe the government is working for them. They don’t want to go back to business as usual, they want to throw the long ball.


And the Trumpers?

Rednecks. Who laughed at hippies and…you didn’t dare drive south of the Mason-Dixon line with your long hair and bell bottoms and… Didn’t you see “Easy Rider”?

But for one day, the corporations of America, the institutions, they want us to believe that we’re all one big homogeneous family under a big tent.

Huh?

There was no acknowledgement of the world we now live in. One of niches, special interests. The entertainment edifices and the rest of the media want us to believe it’s still the same as the pre-internet era. One Top Ten. We all listen to the same records and watch the same TV shows when nothing could be further from the truth.

As for the endless movie and TV ads…they burnished the image of Netflix, which needs no spots, its subscribers know what it offers, and are addicted to it. Netflix promises to make a zillion shows with no commercials, trying to do its best. It’s not all lowest common denominator, stuff that tries to appeal to everyone and really appeals to no one.

Kinda like J.Lo and Shakira.

Mariah Carey broke thirty years ago. Sure, Nirvana and Pearl Jam followed her right thereafter, but how many rock acts followed Kurt Cobain? I know, Coldplay! I thought rock was supposed to have balls.

So if you’re a youngster, you don’t even know what the rock ethos is. The other, refusing to sell out, reaching for the holy grail at every turn, knowing that if you’re good enough and credible enough your flock will follow you anywhere.

You marched to the beat of your own drummer. The establishment came to you, not vice versa.

So, Shakira danced so quickly and provocatively that you almost could not believe your eyes. She definitely has the music in her, but how long did it take her to rehearse this routine?

As for J.Lo…why is she famous again?

Oh, that’s right, the establishment record company pushed her, made her a success just before the internet killed that game and it became all hip-hop all the time.

As for Roc Nation’s partnership with the NFL…it’d be like Peter Grant advising the MLB. Sure, it’s great people of color can get ahead, but I can’t get over the sacrifice of Kaepernick. It’s positively Trumpian, the end justifies the means. And if you think it’s good for your image, makes you money, keeps you top of mind, you can march right over the rest of the populace. And if Roc Nation is so powerful, why wasn’t it a hip-hop Super Bowl? Especially when that’s what the players are listening to. J. Lo and Shakira turned out to be safer than Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Just the way the NFL wants it, no controversy.

But the amazing thing about disruption is the establishment doesn’t see it coming. E-sports mean much more to the younger generation than the demolition derby on the field. But if you print an anti-football article you become an instant pariah. Same deal if you criticize Trump. So the NFL removes the edge and we’re supposed to applaud them, congratulate them for bringing us together and leading? It’s a veritable plantation. That’s what the black-balling of Kaepernick is all about. The owners don’t care about the players, and Clark Hunt was evidence for the eradication of inherited wealth. This soft white guy rules over this team? Ridiculous!

But that’s today’s America, we gloss over its faults, love it or leave it, it’s the best. You abhor socialism when you feed on it, with Medicare and Social Security. Yup, that’s another thing about Americans, they’re ill-informed or uninformed but they’re loudmouth brutes who are constantly pontificating while believing it’s always somebody else’s fault, like the Latinos, the immigrants, the…

Oh, I don’t hate America. It would be easier for you if I did! I just want improvement, change. And one thing’s for sure, the new America ain’t gonna look like the old one, no way.

So, the halftime show hearkened back to the original, with Up With People. It was entertainment. It did not challenge us, it was not dangerous and had the nutritional value of candy, it was forgotten just after it was over.

So, once again, if you want to last, if you want to make a difference, you have to learn how to say no. Lil Nas X shortened his career last night, to the degree he has one, but I guess you’ve got to promote yourself when the Grammys deny you your due, i.e. Record of the Year.

Shakira proved that in a world where you think you’re well known, you’re not, until you play an event like this most people have no idea who you are.

Shakira delivered.

Maybe we need more unknowns during halftime.

Or maybe we should go back to marching bands, they’re hipper than the acts performing anyway. That’s right, modern marching bands make pictures, make statements, comment on humanity. Imagine if one formed a roach last night, and I’m not talking about the ones Muhammad Ali told you he despised, the ones crawling along your floor. Then again, maybe you crawl along the floor looking for said roach.

We live in challenging times. When it’s hard to get a handle on what’s happening. When it’s hard to make sense of what’s going on.

An alien would be flummoxed if he/she/it came down from orbit. Let’s see, we laud a game that maims men while we advertise products you don’t need and implore you to go to comic book movies.

America is fighting for its soul. Is it merely money, or is it about the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at one time?

I thought about all this watching the spectacle yesterday.

But I must say, I enjoyed the game.

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