As an average American, it is my understanding that those who partake in the viewing of major sporting events, football to be exact, do not appreciate sexual content or impulsive displays of passion. In fact, this annual gathering of citizens around a bowl of chips, a cooler or two of beer, and a smorgasbord of fatty foods is world-renowned for its intellectual and moral integrity.
Imagine my surprise when the sin-sational activities of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake made their way into this hallowed sanctuary of social dignity! I, like many of my fellow Americans, was completely disgusted by MTV’s attempt to infiltrate this sanctified pastime with its counter-culture messages of sex, humor and animalistic fury.
OK. In all honesty, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I can’t say that I’ve ever “watched” a Super Bowl, unless you count running back into the room every time they go to commercial. In fact, if I’m ever in charge, I think I’ll make the whole “football” part of the Super Bowl a 30-second clip in the middle of the Commercial Bowl, where millions of Americans will gather to laugh at the barrage of crazy antics and whimsical tactics used to warm us up to corporate America.
As you can probably tell, the entire preamble to this article was written with extreme sarcasm. I have nothing against football fans, but honestly, the marginally more amoral sight of Janet Jackson’s private bits have nothing on Nelly’s crotch-grabbing, scantily clad extravaganza that preceded what many have begun to call “Boobygate” (OK, just me). Speaking of crotch-grabbing, it is interesting to me that no one wrote letters to CBS about the ads like Mike Ditka’s “Levitra Challenge.” I’m sorry, but an old man telling me of his “exciting life” post-male enhancement is much more vulgar and visually gratuitous to me than a distant breast.
All sexual content aside, it is most disturbing to me that CBS would not allow certain “advocacy” ads to air during the Super Bowl, claiming it was not its policy to air such ads. Yet, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy was allowed to air its ad regarding drug policy and the fatal consequences of marijuana use; Pepsi was allowed an ad that showed children who had been prosecuted for downloading music; and the American Legacy Foundation was allowed to air one of the infamous “Truth” ads advocating for anti-tobacco activism.
Now, I’m not really a huge fan of drug legalization; neither am I an active defender of tobacco companies. This does not mean, however, that these ads should not be thought of as advocacy ads. By now, most people have heard of MoveOn.org, and the elaborate contest they held to find the best possible 30 second ad to air during the Super Bowl. The ad that won the contest showed children working in low-level jobs, with dreary looks on their faces, followed by a title reading “Guess who will work off Bush’s $1 trillion deficit?” Sure, this is advocacy, but is it any worse than “truth” or propaganda that comes from the other side, that supports tougher law enforcement?
The question is, which ad contains more truth, and is therefore less “liberal” with its advocacy? Fact: George W. Bush created the largest deficit in history, and has refused to establish programs that will effectively amend this deficit within the next 10 years. More facts: Given the increasing costs of college tuition and the recent failure of presidential budget proposals to fund college scholarships and state schools (paired with a general tendency to underfund all of public education), a great number of children today will have unskilled labor jobs tomorrow. OK, I did some Bush bashing in my last column, and I promise not to resort to it all the time, but it’s rather difficult to avoid.
Now, for the other side: Slightly truth-ish: Downloading music off the Internet is a serious crime that costs the economy a lot of money. Possibly not a lie: Second-hand smoke kills a lot of people. Mostly untrue: Smoking pot has fatal effects in most cases. CBS surely has a right to air whatever ads it wishes, but to feign non-partisan, unbiased selection is downright dishonest.
Furthermore, the idea that the budget deficit is a “controversial” idea that should not be mentioned in such a happy time for America is ridiculous. In reality, the harms of pirated music and smoke do not equal the harms of the budget deficit and the media’s attack on discourse and honesty.
The trillion-dollar deficit impacts everyone, Super Bowl fans included, and it is a shame that sex and booze are given a higher position on our communications agenda than the future of our country.