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The Super Bowl Halftime Show
Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar (PHOTO: NFL)

The Super Bowl Halftime Show

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It reflected the music of the players as opposed to the owners.

If you search online, you will find three responses to Sunday’s Super Bowl Dre extravaganza:

1. Best Super Bowl halftime show ever!

2. Okay, good to see hip-hop, it’s about time, but do all the acts have to be twenty or thirty years past their prime?

3. Horrid. I turned it off.

I found the Super Bowl surprisingly flat.

In truth, football is fading, to be replaced by esports. The only people who don’t know this are those involved in it. And that number continues to decrease. Too many parents don’t want their kids’ lives shortened.

And football has very little action. Video games are all action.

Football requires physicality, as a result of genes and training. ANYBODY can participate in esports.

It’s fascinating to watch the boomer generation run its institutions off the rails. The Oscars announced a fan award will be decided on TWITTER! That’s so 2012. When people watched the show and live-tweeted. The only people who still do that are those who’ve got an interest in the movie business, the scribes, everybody else doesn’t care. Twitter is for news diehards and oldsters. Youngsters are on TikTok.

And what is the essence of TikTok? PARTICIPATION!

Everybody wants to play. Which is the democratic leveling that contributes to the growth of the aforementioned esports. If you want to draw attention to your enterprise, you’ve got to let the public participate.

I laud the ability of an outsider to present an Oscar, but if the Academy really desired excitement, they’d offer a role in a movie! That’s right, the person with the best TikTok clip referencing an Oscar nominee gets a role in a film next year. In a Spielberg movie. Or Michael Bay. Or Spider-man. A SPEAKING ROLE! Yup, not just an extra. Give them a line. Or two. That anybody can do. Believe me, the TikTok generation will tune in to find out who won.

So, watching football is a passive experience, when as stated above, everybody wants to participate. The game hasn’t changed in decades, is beholden to advertisers and there’s very little actual playing involved. The Super Bowl tradition is loved by oldsters. Youngsters? Eh…

So, in this world you either lead or you follow. If you’re not innovating, you’re dying. If you’ve seen one Super Bowl, you’ve seen them all.

Like the commercials.

For decades, the actual Super Bowl game was not competitive. But you tuned in just to see the commercials. A paradigm that was established with Steve Jobs’s 1984 commercial for the Macintosh. ONE commercial changed the whole paradigm. Since then? We’ve seen safe.

I mean my favorite commercial of the game was the “Sopranos” Chevy one. But it would have been better if there were more narrative. It was cognitive dissonance to hear Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning,” as if someone had changed the channel. But why couldn’t there be an arc? Steve Jobs bought two minutes for Apple in 1984, couldn’t Chevy buy more time?

Which brings us back to the halftime show.

In truth, it’s a visual performance. The audio is secondary. Most people listen on lousy TV systems anyway.

And it started with the set. All white. When you lose color, you add color. And the labels… Tam’s Burgers? If you lived in L.A. you smiled.

And Dre was happy and Snoop showed why he was a superstar and the whole show proved why rock is dead. Point out the innovation in rock in the last two decades…smiling everyman meat and potatoes Dave Grohl?

Yes, the stars brought all their drama. Not only Mary J. Blige, but the rest of the performers.

Dr. Dre… The most unknown superstar there is. Who is Dre exactly? Nobody knows! Should we be afraid of him or in reality is he nice… He’s inaccessible. But here he was, smiling.

And then Snoop delivered on all fronts. Not only his unique vocal delivery, but the way his body moved akin to a Slinky, as if he had no bones inside.

Fitty was a surprise.

Kendrick brought the whole thing up to date; he deserved his own headlining spot.

And then Marshall evidenced that intensity that had everybody scared twenty years ago.

Snoop… What really happened in that park? All we know is Snoop was acquitted. And we also know that Snoop is a football fanatic. And that he’s good friends with Martha Stewart. Talk about an American story, if Snoop Dogg ran for president he’d win. Hands-down.

Fitty. He has his own checkered past.

As for Marshall… Let’s see, he remarried Kim and they got divorced once again. Hailie went to college. He starred in his own movie. He gained an insane amount of weight then lost it. He got hooked on heroin, but here he is as if none of that mattered, delivering his lines like they still matter, like he still matters, unlike all the geriatric rock stars still plying the boards.

As for Mary J…

She didn’t look like the models, the skinny social x-rays. She looked more human, like someone in your neighborhood. And unlike the models, she had rhythm and evidenced it.

The whole show was about rhythm. Which has supplanted melody in today’s music. Rhythm is more basic, the underpinning, when all the rest is b.s. you strip it down to its basics.

Kinda like punk. The Ramones opened the floodgates, enough with prog rock, it was about energy and attitude, and anybody could play, and did, just like they ultimately rapped.

Hip-hop won. By being more authentic. More grounded. More experimental. More real.

Is it a bit long in the tooth now? Sometimes a caricature of itself?

Yes. But nothing has come along to replace it. That’s the irony of the internet age, there’s so much more, across the board, but it takes so long for something new to become dominant. Overnight was over ten years ago. And if it happens real fast, it fades. Like Clubhouse. Heard anybody talk about that recently?

And if you rest on your laurels, you’re dead. You can try and buy the competition, play hardball, but you can’t keep down innovation, you can’t dictate to the public, which is how TikTok usurped the social media throne from Facebook.

As far as Facebook competing with Reels, etc. It’s about the PLATFORM more than the content. When you have the dominant platform, it is not superseded by a copycat because all the people are already there, in a community, and sans community you’ve got nothing.

So in truth they should have given Dre control years ago.

And isn’t it funny how he had to pay for it. Seven million supposedly. Proving, once again, that cash is king, and without it opportunity and upward mobility are steep slopes most people cannot climb.

But if corporations can buy advertising, Dr. Dre is entitled to buy time too.

And for the first time ever, the halftime show has gone viral. It’s memorable. It’s being watched and shared in the tens of millions, ultimately the hundreds of millions. Because like Kimmel says, it’s not about the show, it’s about the internet, the longevity. It blows up on the internet. Years from now, no one will remember who even played in last Sunday’s Super Bowl, never mind won. But they’ll remember the halftime show!

But the impact will never be the same as something from the pre-internet era. Because we no longer watch the same shows, consume the same art, the center stopped holding in America eons ago. As a matter of fact, there were multiple news stories over the weekend that white people were abandoning the NFL because they thought the owners were kowtowing to the Black players, who they thought already have too much power. Call it the Kaepernick effect. You’ve got to keep the “boys” down. Otherwise who knows what will happen!

Actually, nobody knows, now more than ever. Will Putin invade Ukraine? Will Trump win the nomination in 2024?

But one thing was for sure, twenty-odd years ago, if you wanted to know what was going on you listened to hip-hop, the sound of the streets, the sound of reality.

Sunday was a well-deserved victory lap.

So where do we go from here?

I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it’s forward, not back. If you’re protecting your interests, you’ve already lost. You’ve got to experiment, put it all on the line, lay down your truth. Which is anathema these days. Wasn’t that the argument re Rogan? The truth? Well, it turns out the truth is fungible, irrelevant of its veracity. And without truth, you no longer have a society.

Music used to be the glue that held society together. This was what was wrought in the sixties and seventies, music is an elemental building block of the boomers.

But people today believe it’s just music, that music always rules. That’s patently wrong. Music rules when it pushes the envelope and is instructional, when it’s aspirational as opposed to lowest common denominator pandering.

If you want to win today you’ve got to tap into the mind-set of the people. Big time sports can never do this. Never ever. But art can. Music, movies, TV. That is art’s power. That is why artists are adored more than billionaires. And have more power if they choose to exercise it. But in an era where the acts want to be billionaires, have compromised and sacrificed their art in the pursuit of money, you end up with a hollowed-out sphere.

But the power is still there. Nascent, ready to be reawakened.

But growth is slower than ever, and today’s younger generation is impatient, it wants it all and it wants it now, and now, more than ever, that’s impossible.

It starts with you. Then you gain the hearts and minds of the public. You allow people to innovate and own your production. If they’re messing with your music that’s a TRIBUTE not a heinous copyright infringement. Hell, all those wankers who were against Napster and YouTube have finally woken up to the power of TikTok, they’re DYING to have a viral moment like Fleetwood Mac, a regular citizen skateboarding with cranberry juice to music that is playing to one as opposed to everyone.

So the halftime show was a delineation of what was. It’s also a harbinger, a blueprint of what can be. It’s all there, you’ve just go to look below the surface.

You need to look deep inside, reflect your inner feelings without compromise, and then they might resonate.

The game didn’t.

But the halftime show did.


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