Like many Americans, my Sunday was spent on the couch watching Super Bowl XLVII. In this case, my brother’s couch, because he’s got the nice big television, and I enjoy having someone to crack jokes with. This proved to be very important, as this year’s Super Bowl provided plenty of times when it was necessary to have some outside entertainment, including a 37-minute power outage at the Superdome.
I didn’t really have a team I was particularly rooting for in the game; I only watch the NFL off and on, I don’t have a favorite team or anything. I wound up rooting for the 49ers out of solidarity with my brother, but was mostly just hoping for a good game. It took a while for the game to deliver on that front; I think the 49ers must have taken advantage of the power outage to finish their naps.
Of course, like a lot of people who don’t have a strong team preference, I was watching as much for the entertainment experience as for the game itself. On that front, I have to say I don’t think Super Bowl XLVII was one of the better ones.
One issue I had was with the presentation itself… well, perhaps that’s a bit unfair. The presentation of the game wasn’t bad, though the discussion during the power outage gave a whole new meaning to “tedium”. But the pregame presentation had completely the wrong mood for the event. There was a bit the Harbaugh brothers, which was fine and appropriate. And there was a talk with Ray Lewis, which is also appropriate. But the conversation veered, perhaps inevitably, to his part in a homicide and assault early in his career. Like I said, it’s perhaps unavoidable, but it’s a bit of a grim topic of discussion for the day, and it was just one of many. Also on the docket for the pre-game hype was an interview with President Obama that largely centered on taxes (everybody’s favorite Super Bowl Sunday discussion topic), an extensive look at a coach (not one of the coaches in this game) who is dealing with leukemia, and a choir performance made up of some of the survivors from December’s elementary school mass murder.
I don’t want to demean or belittle any of the issues brought up this way. They are important issues. They deserve discussion. But that wasn’t the forum for that discussion. It didn’t fit. It didn’t match the mood of the event, it wasn’t what people would reasonably have expected. It felt crass and exploitative, especially the choir (and considering this was an elementary school, I have to wonder if the choir even existed before the event in question.) What’s more, the continued and virtually unrelenting focus on these topics really felt depressing after a while. It was enough to make me wonder if Super Bowl XLVII was being quietly sponsored by Zoloft.
I was, however, cheered up greatly by the special pregame performance Pepsi had
One Direction One Republic put on. I wasn’t familiar with One Republic until just a few weeks ago, from Pepsi’s commercials, and hadn’t heard their music before. I’m reasonably sure that the overlap between One Republic fans and Super Bowl fans probably doesn’t exceed triple digits, but I found myself greatly entertained during their performance by the quality of their music.
I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.
I’m not a musician, but even I can offer a few suggestions to these kids if they really want to perform as a band. The guitar has multiple strings and multiple finger placements; if you don’t just swipe at it with your hand, you can get different sounds of it. Similarly, the keyboard has those keys ranging all the way across it for a reason; you can use more than just a couple of them. Move your hand, it’s OK. Also, drums work better if you hit them.
Alicia Keys started “The Star-Spangled Banner” off well, but like virtually all performers over-did it when getting to “the rocket’s red glare”. Beyoncé’s half-time show was OK, I guess… it wasn’t awful, it certainly wasn’t the Black Eyed Peas, but it wasn’t all that great either. At least not for me; I’ll admit I have never been a fan of her music, even when she was with Destiny’s Child, so I was rather oblivious to their reunion. I’m not saying it’s bad, just that it’s not to my tastes, and I don’t feel it really fits with the Super Bowl. Call me old-fashioned, but I think Super Bowl halftime shows ought to rock, and Beyoncé doesn’t do rock. If I were to compile a list of songs that I feel would fit a Super Bowl halftime performance, “Single Ladies Put a Ring on It” wouldn’t crack the top 500. In fairness to the performance selection committee (I assume there’s a committee and not just one guy pulling names out of a hat), fewer and fewer new acts nowadays perform rock and roll, and the older acts are, well, getting older. It’s an open question as to whether it’s more disappointing to see a light pop act that lacks metaphorical teeth or a classic rock act that lacks literal teeth.
The commercials during the Super Bowl have become a form of entertainment in and of themselves, and like a lot of people, I find this to be a big part of the enjoyment — though I do think it’s more than a little silly how the car companies in particular have started having “teaser ads” for the ads themselves. This year’s crop was pretty disappointing, though. I smiled at the Dorito’s goat ad, and the Oreo whisper fight was all right. I got a small laugh out of the punchline to Amy Poehler’s Best Buy ad, and a big laugh at the punchline of the Jack In the Box ad. But that was really about it; most of the other “funny” commercials just weren’t all that funny. And some of the other ads were just plain creepy. Underwear commercials are generally kind of skeevy anyway, but the Calvin Klein ad was practically doing a Chippendale’s performance on screen (overlap with the Super Bowl fans… probably slightly higher than with One Republic, but it’s still pretty tasteless.) The Taco Bell “Viva Young” ad was a mixture of amusing and awkward. And GoDaddy managed to outdo themselves in tackiness, which is something I honestly wouldn’t have expected. And Volkswagen’s ad firm, after having a hit with the Darth Vader kid two years ago, apparently has undergone a similar mental decay as George Lucas, thinking it’s funny to make everybody sound like bad Jamaican stereotypes.
Being a movie blogger, I was of course excited to see new trailers debut during the Super Bowl. But as it turned out, there just weren’t that many. There were eight trailers in all: 21 & Over, Fast & Furious 6, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Snitch, Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z. You can check them all out at the Focused Filmographer. What struck me was that there wasn’t a lot of novelty in these trailers; the only trailers for previously-untrailered films (as far as I’m aware) were the ones for Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6. And of the rest, only 21 & Over, The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness really seemed to show anything that hadn’t been shown in previous trailers. Just under half of the trailers were just the same things we’ve been seeing before movies already… seems to me that if you’ve got a big audience, and you’re spending Super Bowl level money on an ad, you’d want to show them something new to get them excited for your film. Of course, Warner Brothers needs someone to tell them to just show something, period, as they didn’t have one film in the mix. They’re trying to relaunch the Superman film franchise this summer with Man of Steel; they could have really used the boost the Super Bowl could give them, especially as the trailers so far haven’t been wonderful.
Of what was shown, I think Star Trek Into Darkness had the best trailer. It really did a good job of making the film look interesting, and showing just enough to give an idea of what it’s about without spoiling anything significant. Iron Man 3 looked good enough from what was shown, but that wasn’t much. 21 & Over gave a few more peeks, but still isn’t looking like it’ll be a winner, to me. I haven’t watched any of the Fast and the Furious movies, so it’s a little harder for me to judge the sixth entry, but it looked about as good as the others have looked. And The Lone Ranger continues to look like an abomination. Even if it weren’t for the problem of having a white guy play an Indian, even if it weren’t for it not looking like it’s respecting the tone of the original property, it would still be looking pretty awful. The humor’s falling flat, and the stylized look is hard to look at. Still, I have to give Disney credit for at least bringing out their big guns for the Super Bowl; they’ve got three live-action summer blockbusters (well, two and one in March), and they made sure to put them all on display for the Super Bowl. (At least, I don’t think they missed any; Thor: The Dark World is out in November.)
Overall, while I enjoyed the game, and the festivities, and of course hanging out with friends, I don’t think Super Bowl XLVII is going to go down as one of the more entertaining ones, viewed as a whole. The game itself wasn’t interesting until after the blackout, the pregame and halftime shows were unimpressive, and the commercials were not worth the money their companies spent on them. I had fun, but there wasn’t much to praise in the presentation.