I’ve done a “Super Bowl Life Lessons” column for the last few years and, to be honest, I’m beginning to wonder if the Super Bowl as a cultural spectacle has all that much more to teach us. Guys are still oafs. Violence is still funny (especially so when it involves sumo wrestlers). Talking flowers and babies are still funny. Classic rockers are still old. The main innovation this year seems to be that guys not wearing pants is funny.
Perhaps the lesson this year is from the football game itself. Often, the Super Bowl teaches us that the powerful will crush the weak in an excessive display of might over helplessness (see San Francisco and Dallas wins in the 1990s). However, the aughts have reminded us that the mighty are sometimes laid low (see losses by the early Rams, the late Patriots and the Colts not even making it most years).
This year’s lesson was especially poignant though, in how it demonstrated that winning a Super Bowl can provide housing and hurricane protection for an entire city. Oh wait, no that’s not it. Winning a Super Bowl can make you forget how you were abandoned in your time of need? No? You don’t have to actually help a ravaged city if you root for their football team? I’m sure there’s a lesson in there – help me out here.
The good news, though, even for Colts fans, is that an NFC team won, thus guaranteeing that our economy will bounce back this year, as the old urban legend says. If only the Cardinals had beaten the Steelers last year, then the economy would be going great, people would not be so freaked out by the deficit, and we’d have some kind of health insurance reform by now. Stinkin’ Steelers.
Anyway, now I’m boring you with talk of football and politics. Let’s get to the commercials. Here’s the most highly anticipated one:
Oops. So much for trying to get off politics. The big surprise of the night was that Tim Tebow’s mom did not talk about abortion, at least not directly. CBS has had a long standing policy of not airing controversial issues ads during the Super Bowl. For example, this 2004 commercial had the controversial message that gays are welcome at the United Church of Christ. It was not allowed on the air:
This year, they also rejected this (albeit cheesy) ad for Man Crunch, a gay dating site. It mostly looks like guys pretending to make out:
However, CBS changed their policy this year when they said they would allow Focus on the Family to air an anti-abortion ad featuring Tim Tebow’s mom. The ad was to say she was pressured to have an abortion when she lived in the Philippines in the late 1980s. However, they apparently changed their minds again, since the ad ended up just saying that Tim Tebow’s mom is proud of her son and that “she almost lost him.” I almost lose my children every time we go to a big box store, so there’s nothing controversial about that. This was probably a wise move on the Tebow’s part, since there are some questions about the veracity of their story, given it was highly illegal to have an abortion in the Philippines at the time of Timmy’s birth.
So, without controversial issue ads to muddy the water, we are left with the usual smattering of cultural lessons. My take is as follows:
Tackling old people is funny (Betty White and Abe Vigoda, especially): Snickers, Focus on the Family
KISS is funny. Mini-KISS is even funnier: Dr. Pepper
People will only help others if they can get something in return, like beer: Budweiser
The 1985 Chicago Bears still dance badly, but now they are old too: Boost Mobile
Although men can’t pretend to make-out, they don’t have to wear pants anymore: Dockers, Coke, Career Builder
Gay men are allowed in commercials as long as they slap each other in a hissy-fight: Motorola.
Talking babies never stop being funny: E-Trade
Violin-playing beavers get to be in automotive hot tubs with beautiful women: Monster.com
Robots can get their feelings hurt if you talk about other, cooler technology (Intel). This will eventually lead to robots kidnapping you and trapping you inside the internets: Vizio
There are still pictures of hot women on the internet: GoDaddy
At long last, people are being arrested for using plastic bags: Audi
Men who are comfortable with themselves wash themselves: Dove
Men who are trying to be good boyfriends are spineless and should really be watching football: Flo TV
Men are willing to do anything, including eat fruit for breakfast and hear your friends’ opinion of his friends, as long as they get to drive the car of their choice: Dodge Charger
Men Are Oafs. As usual, there are too many to list them all, but some examples include:
Men would fake their own deaths to watch a ball game (Doritos)
Men would give up their wives before their Bridgestone tires,
Men would rather drink Bud Light than be rescued off an island.
Men are only interested in books if Bud Light is involved (which, incidently, had the best line of the evening: “Do you like Little Women?” “Uh, yeah, I’m not too picky.”
However, my favorite ad of the year was Google’s, telling a romantic little tale via search queries:
It’s nice to know that there is still time for some romance before the robots come to snatch us away.