(Thanks to James Howard Kunstler for opening my (somewhat opened) eyes in regards to the following. He got me thinking, and I got me writing.)
I too sat and watched the Super Bowl last night, rooting for the (champion) Giants. I paced my family room floor at the final minutes of the game with my 3-year old son wondering what Daddy was doing. I saw the excitement and religious fervor in last night’s game as two groups of men-like modern day gladiators-engage each other on the field of (athletic) battle for a chance at the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Super Bowl-one of America’s biggest exports to the rest of the world-was beamed all over the US and to our troops stationed all throughout the globe. Yes, even I was caught up in the fervor.
The New York Giants and New England Patriots were examples of America’s “can do” spirit as each team-with its players, coaches and owners-reached the game for the NFL’s best of the best. The Super Bowl is symbolic of our national pride. We saw our National Anthem sung, extolling our great land. We had a marching band play. We even had Madonna, Nicki Minaj, MIA, Cee-Lo and others singing while dancers pranced choreographically onstage. Our scoring players knelt on the field and gave God the glory for that winning run. We showed the world what we Americans are made of dammit!
Even our commercials showed that we’re champions. The American made Chevy Silverado (with other Chevy trucks) surviving the 2012 Apocalypse (save the rest of humanity and a Ford truck with driver), with male drivers and Twinkies! Then we had the new Battleship movie with our military taking out big bad aliens that threaten our way of living. We had The Avengers-American made superheroes who will also fight whatever comes against us. God we’re so great!
We were in our orgiastic glory last night.
Then today, I saw the Giants coming off their airliner at Newark Liberty International. The conquering heroes coming home, while their smiling consorts tip down the steps onto the tarmac. Tomorrow, the Giants will be feted to a parade down the “Canyon of Heroes” in Manhattan.
God we’re so great. To quote Queen, “We are the champions”!
Or are we?
After our Super Bowl memories fade, the game food gets put up in the fridge, the last pieces of tickertape is swept off the city streets, and the Giants all return to their homes, a question remains: Are we the champions?
Don’t get me wrong: I love football and the Bowl. However, to love something is to love it in its proper perspective. Like a drinker who knew when to say when, I watched the game and got to see a nation wracked with internal and external problems trying to convince itself and the world that it still has it going on. We show our power against the odds on the gridiron, in our consumer products, and on the silver screen. We even have a halftime show where we can take creativity and sexuality and turn them into representatives of our power-and whip the crowds up into devotion.
But are we the champions? As we feasted over the Super Bowl, we have hunger. As we gathered in TV rooms, “man caves” and even churches we have homelessness. As we sit and watch American greed through high-priced ads that’ll be forgotten soon after, we still have the 99% struggling to stay afloat. As we have overpaid athletes and entertainers keeping us focused off our problems, millions of Americans look for work and are losing hope. As we show the world that we can conquer any problem that comes our way, we have a crumbling infrastructure, underwater mortgages, stupid politicians, social inequities, and environmental threats we can’t ignore.
As we beamed our game to our troops, we need to realize that if cooler head don’t prevail those troops might end up at the Strait of Hormuz fighting another war. Another war is what we don’t need; and our superheroes will not help us.
Despite all the hype of Super Bowl, we need to realize that we’re not the champions. We can live our lives vicariously through our athletes and entertainers, but we still have to return to our real lives sooner or later. Last night was our “bender” where we got ourselves drunk in our perceived greatness, forgetting the hangover that comes in the morning of reality. We don’t want the reality of what’s going on. We still want the fantasy and hype of last night’s self-congratulatory Super Bowl. We still want to be seen as the best, as the tops…
We still want to be the champions-even when everything says we’re not. For it’s only when we grow up and face our reality head on and learn to engage the issues mentioned above head on so that all will benefit-not just the 1% or the elites-then we will be the champions.
Until then, to answer our question: “Are we the champions?” The answer’s a definite “No!”