Super Unfunny

Super Bowl LI will be the stuff of legend, but the commercials during the game?  Not so much.

I can’t say that I saw every commercial broadcast during the game, of course, but the ones I did see weren’t very memorable.  Basically, in this Super Bowl as in other Super Bowls, the commercials fell into two main categories:  the tedious “story” ads that hit you over the head with a message, and the ads that are supposed to be funny.  (There’s also a third category of weird, one-off ads from companies that simply want to get their name out there during the Super Bowl, even though there is basically no chance that 99.99% of the viewing audience will ever purchase their product or service.  This year, the Morgan Freeman ad for Turkish Airlines aptly represents that category.  Turkish Airlines?  Really?)

The enormous Super Bowl audience endures the “story” ads, and accepts the perverse notion of large corporate sponsors lecturing us on the proper way of thinking about something, in hopes that the ads that are trying to be funny will make us laugh.

This year . . . not so much.  I like seeing Melissa McCarthy slammed around as much as the next guy, but her ad was symptomatic of the flaws that seemed to infect all of the wannabe funny ads — a thin premise that gets beaten to death and tries way too hard.  You sit and watch them, kind of shake your head, and marvel that this is the best that a huge ad agency and a million-dollar commercial buy can do.  I didn’t see anything clever or original in a way comparable to the classic “Doberhuahua” ad from a few years ago, for example — and because we could all use a hearty laugh these days, I’ve linked to it below.

Who knows?  Maybe a symptom of aging is that you think the commercials during past Super Bowls are better than the current crop — but I doubt it.

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Patriots And Parity

We’re only a few days away from the Super Bowl, and I haven’t heard anyone talking about the game.  I had lunch a few days ago with four male friends, and literally not one word was spoken about Super Bowl LI.  Donald Trump and his antics were discussed ad nauseum, but football didn’t come up once.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England PatriotsIt’s not just because of Trump, of course.  It’s also because nobody is particularly excited about this Super Bowl match-up.  This has to be the least buzzworthy Super Bowl since — well, maybe ever.  Who cares about the Atlanta Falcons, and how many times can a person watch the New England Patriots, anyway?

But let’s pause for a moment to at least give a nod to the Patriots, their grumpy and rumpled head coach Bill Belichick, and their quarterback, Tom Brady.  Since Belichick has become the Patriots’ top dog in 2000, they’ve made the NFL playoffs in all but three years.  They haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2008 season.  And, even more impressive, the Patriots, Belichick, and Brady have made it to six Super Bowls during that run, winning four of them.  That’s why it seems like the Patriots are in every Super Bowl as a matter of federal law.

What’s remarkable about all of this is that the NFL is specifically designed to crush any possibility of the kind of dynasty the Patriots have become.  The NFL seeks parity above all else.  Regular-season schedules are set up so the strong play the strong and the weak play the weak, with the league hoping that everybody ends up with an 8-8 record and fans who are hoping for a playoff spot up until the very last game of the season.  And, of course, after every year players who have done well who have become free agents can go to other teams, and assistant coaches can be hired to be head coaches elsewhere, and the playing and coaching talent gets redistributed.

The Patriots, however, refuse to participate in the NFL’s regime of enforced mediocrity.  They lose players and coaches, but under Belichick and Brady they always fill the holes and just keep rolling along.  In a world where everything conspires against them — thereby feeding Belichick’s innate sense of paranoia — the Patriots somehow rise above and just keep winning.  Their run is as remarkable, in a positive way, as the Browns’ record of consistent and crushing futility is on the negative side.

So we’ve got to tip our cap to the New Englanders.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to actually watch them, again, in this Super Bowl.

Winging It

The Super Bowl is the greatest chicken wing-consuming event in America.  The National Chicken Council forecasts that Americans will chow down on 1.3 billion chicken wings during the game tomorrow.  That’s four wings for every man, woman, and child in America.  As the vice president for communications of the National Chicken Council aptly stated:  “Any way you measure it, that’s a lot of freaking wings.”

slide_3So, if you’re going to eat chicken wings tomorrow — and chances are, if you are a red-blooded, football-loving, commercial-watching American, you will be — and if you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, why not get your wings from a place that the Only in Your State website recently announced was one of the 11 restaurants with the best wings in Ohio?  The wings from JT’s Pizza & Pub made the top 11 list, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that the JT’s wings are excellent.

In the interests of full and fair disclosure, please note that JT’s is owned and operated by our nephew, Joe Hartnett, who’s been doing a bang-up job as a small businessman.  Now that the conflict of interest disclosures are out of the way, why not stop at JT’s to satisfy that Super Bowl wing craving?  You’ll find JT’s and its magic wings at 2390 West Dublin Granville Road — also know as Route 161 — in Columbus.

Dad’s In The Cradle

There’s been a lot of talk about which Super Bowl commercial was the worst.  The competition was pretty stiff this year.  Was it the Nationwide ad where a little boy turns out to be dead?  Or the creepy one with Jeff Bridges in a couple’s bedroom?  Or one of the many commercials that were supposed to be funny but were complete duds instead?

To me, the worst commercial was the Nissan ad where a race-car driver has a son, is an absentee Dad who ignores and repeatedly disappoints his kid, and then tries to make up for it by giving the kid a new car.  In short, you can cure your crappy performance in the fatherhood department if you just shell out enough for a really neat car!  Hard to believe that even a car manufacturer would think that message would promote car sales.

But this commercial wasn’t bad just because it made me kind of embarrassed to be a Dad, either.  I really hated it because the soundtrack was Harry Chapin’s awful Cat’s In The Cradle song, which has to be one of the worst and most depressing songs ever recorded — and not just because Harry Chapin really couldn’t sing a note.  It’s a trite message about a Dad who works his life away rather than playing ball with his kid.  Because he wasn’t playing catch with his son, his priorities obviously were misplaced.  Who cares if the overworked Dad has to labor those long hours because he’s trying to put food on the table, buy clothes for his family, and send his kids to college.  But those are the kind of real world nuances that the sledgehammer subtlety of Cat’s In The Cradle just couldn’t capture.

These days, Dads usually aren’t cast in a very favorable light, and the Nissan ad is just the latest in a long line of Dad dissings.  I’m tired of it.  The ad agency that came up with that effort should be sentenced to listening to Cat’s In The Cradle for a solid week.

 

Super Bowl Blahs

Hey, the Super Bowl is starting in a few minutes!!!

Meh.  As I’ve listened to the pre-game hoopla — which sometimes feel like it officially started before the two teams actually playing in the game were even determined — I realize I don’t give a flying fig about the game, or the two teams.  I don’t care about Deflategate.  I don’t care about Richard Sherman, or the Seattle running back who is trying to be Duane Thomas reincarnated.  I don’t care whether Bill Belichick looks like a grumpy slob in a slouchy sweatshirt hoodie.

Heck, I don’t even care about the commercials, whether there are racy efforts that have been banned, whether the Budweiser Clydesdales or Spuds McKenzie make a reappearance, or whether the ratings set a new record — which is probably the only thing that the NFL really cares about, in any event.

How many people in America, really, care about the Super Bowl?  I think more people really care about the college football national championship than the Super Bowl.  It’s so overhyped and overblown, it’s hard to really care much about it if your team isn’t playing.

Randomly Dissing The Browns

The Super Bowl is always a tough time of year for Browns fans. We know that, from Super Bowl I through Super Bowl XLVIII, the Browns have never made it. Not once. It’s an annual source of tremendous embarrassment.

So, it’s just adding insult to injury when people start making fun of the teams actually in the Super Bowl by comparing them to the woeful Browns. Last night a tweet went out from Purell, the soap people, saying that the Denver Broncos could use a “refresh” moment, “because right now they look like the Cleveland Browns.” The Purell people later said they “apologize for the insensitive post.” (Who even knew that soap manufacturers tweet about football games — or for that matter that anyone would pay any attention to them? I’m learning something new every day.)

I’m assuming the Purell people were apologizing to we long-suffering Browns fans, because the apology tweet had the hashtag “#Browns fans.” In reality, though, the apology tweet should have gone out to the Denver Broncos. They may have been getting their brains beat in in the biggest game of the year, but no one — no one — deserves to be compared to the Browns.

When You’re Not Watching The Super Bowl . . . .

Not watching the Super Bowl is kind of liberating.

You know that pretty much everybody else in America, from the President on down, is glued to the TV, either because they are interested in the game or they’ve bet on it or they want to watch the commercials or they think the halftime show could be interesting.  They’re all sharing in one of the very few common social experiences in our diverse, sprawling country.  Tomorrow, everyone at work will be talking about the game — or, more likely, about the commercials — but I won’t be able to join them.

I don’t care.  I’m tired of the prevalence, and glitz, and the over-the-top nature of professional sports, and I need to take a break.  The Super Bowl seems like a good time to start.  So, I’m listening to Verdi opera choruses and surfing the net, trying to get caught up on the latest developments in robotics.  For once, I don’t have to fake that I care about a simple football game that has been relentlessly pumped up into something that is grotesque and ludicrous.

It’s like when you’re in high school and you finally decide to stop trying to be popular and just be yourself, no matter how nerdy and out of it you might be.  When you make that call, the pressure’s off — and that can be very enjoyable.