It’s been a few days since, uh… that big game. You know, that one with the football and the two teams and lots and lots of hype?
Yeah, that’s the one! Super Bowl 50! The championship of the National Football League! The biggest sporting event on the planet (although the Olympics and the World Cup would say otherwise). The one day where grown men in helmets and padding hit each other hard for a lasting shot of glory, risk of CTE be dammed (though that’s for another post perhaps).
This year, the NFL seemed to go all out on really building this thing up. I mean, look at that logo pictured above. No Roman numerals! So, you will certainly ask, did I get wrapped up in the Super Hype? Well, to be honest, not too much. That’s not to say I intentionally shied away from all the hype. Sure, I read an online article here or heard a sports radio discussion there. But I didn’t let the big game move to the front of my mind until the actual day of the game. And even with that, I couldn’t sit through 4+ hours of pregame hype, because for one… it was 4+ hours of pregame hype! And more importantly, I had errands to do (lots of laundry and grocery shopping).
When I finally did finish my errands and sat down to watch the coverage, I was only paying half-attention. I was in the process of writing my most recent post, and I really had a hankering to finish it by the time the game kicked off. Unfortunately, I was too busy composing, editing, and re-editing my post and overthinking what I wanted to say (a bad habit for me when it comes to writing; heck, this post comes 3 whole days after the event it’s about). Plus, I took a little break for dinner, meaning I didn’t finish and post the blog until halftime was about to start (more on halftime later).
So for me, most of the first half of Super Bowl 50 found my eyes going back and forth between my TV screen (“Ooh, good play.”), my computer screen (“Uh, what did I want to include?”), and my bowl of soup (“Damn, I hate getting a cold”). But I did manage to confirm a couple of beliefs I have about the big game, the first being the commercials. This may sound sacrilegious to most of you, but I don’t really care to watch the commercials that air during a Super Bowl. Usually, you’ll see me muting the volume and averting my gaze from the TV screen when all those overproduced — and, dare I say, overhyped — ads for beer, automobiles, soft drinks, snack chips, or whatever else is being promoted. Heck, in previous years, I’d sometimes switch the channel to some other network and mentally count to two minutes (roughly the minimum length of a commercial break on a game broadcast such as a Super Bowl). The way I see it, I’m watching the Super Bowl to enjoy the game, not to become an advertiser’s captive audience (emphasis on “captive”).
Of course, if you’re watching the Super Bowl with a group, it’ll be hard to ignore the commercial breaks; indeed, you’ll probably get more than a few dirty looks if you were to mute the TV among a group who, for some reason, wants to watch all those silly ads. Which is why you’ll find lil’ ol’ me enjoying the Super Bowl from the comfort of my own little domicile. Watching the Super Bowl at home is actually relaxing for me, even if sometimes I get excited and rewind my DVR just to watch that amazing play again.
Speaking of modern television technology, thank goodness for DVRs, for if you miss that big moment or that game-changing play, it’s available again with the hit of the rewind button. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be very many big plays in Super Bowl 50, so the DVR took a rest on Sunday night.
While the game wasn’t too exciting, at least there was the extravaganza known as the Super bowl Halftime Show, and with that I devote the rest of this post to the song and dance you usually see once the teams head to the locker rooms. So, how was this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show? Well, let’s just say it varied in excitement. The NFL originally announced in December that Coldplay would be the headliners for the show. But more often than not, Super Bowl halftime shows need performers with lots of energy who can command the audience’s attention, and one doesn’t usually consider Coldplay as a part of that list. Perhaps that’s why after the NFL originally announced Coldplay would be the headliners, they also added Beyoncé and Bruno Mars as “special guests” a couple of weeks before the game.
Well, guess who stole the show Sunday night? Let’s rank the halftime players from low to high prominence on the night, shall we?
Seriously, Beyoncé and Bruno stole the show right out from under Coldplay, especially Beyoncé (hence all those exclamation points). She used the platform to perform a new song, “Formation,” and went all-in not just with the dancing, the showmanship, and the costumes (Ooooh, leather!) but the song’s unapologetic lyrics of empowerment and taking a stand. (CBC Radio’s q had a great discussion today about “Formation,” by the way; it’s worth a listen.) Beyoncé was preceded by Bruno Mars and his great display of funk, while Coldplay… well, Coldplay was just plain mopey by comparison.
But while we rank Beyoncé and Bruno Mars ahead of Coldplay (and after that show Sunday night, who wouldn’t?), let’s ponder these thoughts:
There are likely those outside those acts’ target audiences who would rather prefer the Super Bowl Halftime Shows be populated by nothing more than traditional marching bands, AKA what you’d find in virtually every college football game (and what was commonplace in the early years of the Super Bowl).
Or, they would prefer all those old classic rock artists who appeared on the halftime stage in the years immediately following Nipplegate. This parade of inoffensive geezers really turned me off on the halftime shows, so much so that I didn’t mind turning to the radio broadcast of the game to listen to the analysis and interviews they would conduct. (“Sure, Grandma and Grandpa, go ahead and enjoy your Paul McCartney and your Rolling Stones; we’ll just wait in the other room and bide our time until the second half.”)
And there are some who may be really, really old and really, really conservative to actually long for the days when the only Super Bowl halftime headliners were… wait for it… Up With People. Seriously? Up With People?! The group of far-too-well-scrubbed young adults dancing and singing to music clean enough for the holier-than-thou types to eat off of? I recall after the above mentioned Nipplegate, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue commented that a part of him still misses seeing Up with People at the Super Bowl. Really, Commissioner? There’s no stadium in the league that could withstand the mad rush to the concessions and restrooms once Up with People hit the field for halftime.
What I’m getting at here is that no matter what you think about Beyoncé or Bruno Mars or Coldplay or how they did last Sunday night, at least they’re part of a pattern in recent Super Bowl Halftime Shows: The shows are being populated by acts that are… relevant. No marching bands, no acts your grandparents still want to groove to, and no Up with People. Just artists that can put on the type of show such a big stage demands, aren’t too afraid to push the envelope (but know when not to tear it wide open), and whom modern audiences can relate to… which reduces the chance of the show being ignored or turned off. Because when you’ve got the biggest sporting event on the planet, you really have to reel in the crowd.