The ratings are in and the pundits and American public at large heartily agree that Super Bowl LIII was a bore fest—boring football game, boring halftime show, and boring commercials. Among various sentiments expressed by the media and other commentators of note:
“The Worst Super Bowl Ever”—CNN
“. . . a universally agreed upon snoozefest.” New York Times
“a performance that was dynamically flat, mushy at the edges, worthy of something much worse than derision: a shrug.”—New York Times on the half-time show
“You may want those nearly four hours of your life back.”—The Charlotte Observer
“Big Game brought commercial boredom”—Ad Age
And a writer with The Week included the coin toss and turning off the TV off as among the most exciting moments of this year’s Super Bowl experience.
Well, perhaps we can blame politics and political correctness on the ennui that marked this year’s rendition of the most watched annual spectacle on TV. Political correctness certainly played an oversized role in the development of the Super Bowl Halftime show and undoubtedly influenced the creation of this year’s generally listless advertising rather than the usual edgy fare that makes some people watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials.
The NFL had been struggling to find an act for its halftime show due to the ongoing “take a knee” controversy sparked by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Many high-end acts had reportedly turned down invitations to play the show and social justice activist celebrities had been calling for a boycott of it. After the pop band Maroon 5 accepted the invite, social justice warriors started pressuring them to back out or to otherwise support the “take a knee” protest during their show.
Interestingly, by reading some media reports leading up to Super Bowl LIII, one might have gotten the sense that there was this huge groundswell of public support behind the efforts to convince Maroon 5 to back out of the show or otherwise join the protest. However, a closer look reveals that the public support wasn’t so much big as it was hyped by a media always interested in stirring up controversy. For example, an oft-mentioned change-dot-org. petition calling for the band to drop out had only generated about 115,000 signatures since November.
Hardly a groundswell of support, especially when you consider that another petition asking the band to play the Spongebob Squarepants song “Sweet Victory” during the halftime show garnered more than 1.2 million signatures in much less time.
Nevertheless, the cloud of political correctness and social justice activism hung over the band’s collective heads in the months and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Many in the media referred to the band’s decision to play the Halftime show controversial, encouraged perhaps in large part by especially vocal social justice activist celebrities such as Amy Schumer, Ava Duvernay, and Michael B. Jordan. And the mostly white band reportedly struggled to find black artists to join them on the stage in a politically correct nod to diversity, which had undoubtedly been pushed to a large degree by the PC-sensitive NFL.
Despite further attempts by some in the media to hype the Halftime show controversy by suggesting that Maroon 5 might surprise viewers with some form of protest, the band refrained. As noted in their review of the “anodyne” show, The New York Times noted that “in a year in which the Super Bowl halftime show has become a referendum on political mindfulness . . . Maroon 5 was a cynically apt choice” that was a “dead band walking” due to its choice to remain apolitical.
This author would suggest that The New York Times has it wrong, and that the vast majority of Americans see the Super Bowl and its halftime show as “entertainment,” and don’t want to see it used as a stage for promoting political beliefs and PC culture. Thus Maroon 5 was a “dead band walking” due in part to efforts by the media and obnoxious PC celebrities to interject politics and PC into the entire Super Bowl package.
To give the New York Times a bit of credit, it did obliquely point out the hypocrisy of several Super Bowl-disdainful celebrities who had rejected any thought of participating in the halftime show, but had no problem earning millions from appearing in Super Bowl commercials.
Speaking of Super Bowl commercials, Ad Age said that “mediocrity” is the word to describe this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads, due to the efforts of advertisers to “avoid any sort of controversy.” And a commercial by Hyundai exemplified exactly why. To promote the Hyundai brand and automobile, the advertisement featured actor Jason Bateman as an elevator operator stopping on various floors to compare car shopping with such things as jury duty, a colonoscopy and attending a vegan dinner party—“Beetloaf,” anyone!
Well, the PC outrage mob hit mobilized on social media to chastise Hyundai for mocking vegetarians in what was the only truly funny ad of the Super Bowl. Led by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), outraged Vegans slammed Hyundai for its insensitivity and encouraged anyone reading their social media posts to look elsewhere for their car purchases.
A close review of social media posts about the ad would reveals a ratio of positive posts that definitely favors the commercial and its humor over the number of negative posts chastising Hyundai. Nevertheless, Hyundai backed down to some degree by declaring that the company “loves vegan food.”
As for the football game itself, it is doubtful that politics and political correctness were on the minds of the players during the game, but outside instigators certainly tried to equate the game with political-minded controversy. Just consider The Daily Beast with its pre-Super Bowl identity politics pronouncement that the New England Patriots are “the preferred team of white nationalists.” While the mainstream media pretty much refrained from delving too deeply into this line of thinking, some MSM outlets made a point of bringing up the fact that both New England quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are Trump supporters, with allusions that this might make them racist.
Bottom line is that all of these efforts to politicize the NFL’s marquee event are serving to ruin it. People watch the Super Bowl for entertainment, not to be lectured to about one political point or another, or to pick sides based on political leanings. The game, the halftime show, and the commercials should all serve as pure entertainment and provide escape from the identity politicking, grievance mongering, and PC proselytizing that is being infused into every other aspect of American life.
New York Times—Maroon 5 Barely Leaves Mark at the Super Bowl Halftime Show
The Charlotte Observer—Super Boring Super Bowl reaction: commercials, Maroon 5, Tom Brady’s 6th ring