February 8, 2005

The Way of All Bowls

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As far as my writing career goes, this article will not be very memorable, but I have already started, and I may as well continue. It is quite clear that the Super Bowl is no friend to a seasoned journalist, as it forces him to restrain his sweeping social commentary on the continuum of human events and, instead, focus on a brief, fragmentary series of self-contained successes, disappointments and commercials. Yet the sheer number of star-studded features in the yearly extravaganza has made this focus a most vital obligation. This is now my seventh annual Super Bowl article for the Sun and, in my experience, there is never much to say. But luckily for me, this year was quite different.

The themes of this year’s Bowl exposed themselves early, and the night unfolded like a lawn chair. So in case you weren’t paying attention, here are some bits of the evening … and some context. The sun is turning around the world pretty fast, and if you don’t stop to look at it you just might miss it.

The Super Bowl, like most sporting events, is marked by a great polarity: either you are for one team or you are for the other. There is little room for ambiguity in the world of cheese heads and cheese graters (Ravens’ defense). This game was extraordinarily different from the start. The Black Eyed Peas delivered a rousing performance on a stage that appeared more crowded than the crowded crowd. The act encouraged those in attendance to realize an important ethical rule: “to discriminate is to only generate hate.” The crowd was left feeling profoundly hollow as they realized that what they had considered spirited support for their team was, underneath, a deep and frightening hatred and foolhardy prejudice against the other team. After the Peas performance, we all realized why the Eagles and Patriots had been elected to play in this great game: they are both the best possible symbols of America. The patriot and the national bird are symbols of each other. As such, they could not help but embolden the crowd, as they realized that no matter who won, the winner would be America. The break down of this polarized nation had begun.

(Hey guys I just wanted to say what’s up. This is Pat, Brian’s roommate. I’ve never been in the Sun before so I snuck up on this piece while Brian was sleeping and typed this little paragraph.)

Many of you have probably heard of politics. Along this line, two former presidents made their presences known once again. After the release of his autobiography, My Life, and aerobic workout tape Step to This, Bill Clinton joined George H.W. Bush to show solidarity, developing the all-important theme of blending former poles into one big mush. After discussing the tsunami, Clinton and Bush rallied the nation as, holding hands, they declared, “We must face a truth: We are gay Americans.” Instead of fanatical debate about “waging wages on Bush’s pink slip … Who created the internet?” the two parties, crazies and loonies alike, came together to support Terrell Owens and America as they both fought off some nagging injuries and less-than-clean histories to fight their way to the top of the world once more. As Bill Clinton held his hand strangely below his heart (almost near his appendix) during the national anthem, we also felt as if our hearts had dropped; we could no longer derive satisfaction from a blind allegiance to one side.

Instead we were all thriving on our moderation. In this sense, we felt a deep sympathy with the poor man in the McDonald’s commercial who had to forgo his delicious french fry in order to keep its likeness to Lincoln for us and our posterity. The beauty of the Super Bowl is not in 9th down conversions and Statute of Limitations plays. It is like a bar mitzvah where magicians and hoola hoops come out to celebrate Balaam beating his donkey to death. The substance of the celebration concerns us not. As monkeys bounced on chairs and convertibles left their owners to freeze, we saw that in the center of this “super bowl” was a broth of humanity. For one night we were all humans, free of creed. Except Jevon Kearse and the Eagles. They were animals out there!

Archived article by Brian London
Red Letter Daze Contributor