Henry Rollins: The Super Bowl and American Exceptionalism
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
The most viewed TV show in American history happened recently, the 2014 Super Bowl. I watched the game with a roomful of enthusiastic co-celebrants.
As popular as the game was, I fear that millions of people who really should have watched it did not. That is to say, America's enemies all over the world.
If they had, the full potential of America's might would not have been lost upon them. These people are called extremists. Whatever their perceived extremity, it doesn't hold a candle to the needle-pinned-in-the-red extreme of millions of Americans getting together to watch men give each other brain damage.
See also: Henry Rollins: My Trips to Russia
The first sign would have been the 101st Airborne's $90,000-plus fly-over of MetLife Stadium after the national anthem. How bitchin' would it have been to see Robert Duvall reprise his role as Lt. Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now and salute the ships as they flew overhead?! (Air Cav, son!)
The second sign should have been Joe Namath looking like a CEO/pimp for the coin toss. Our enemies should understand that our tastelessness often mixes disastrously with our displays of military power.
Not being a sports enthusiast (I am probably a communist or a vegetarian), I was not rooting for either team. I did, however, burst into uncontrollable laughter when, upon every Seattle score, the room filled with groans and roars of frustration. Their dismay was cute but not as cute as Peyton Manning's pouty face mushed up by his helmet in the constant close-up shots. He was having one damn bad day.
But it was the commercials and the big messages that America's foes should watch carefully, because they say a lot about who we are. We are without question, the craziest residents of the global village.
The Scientology ad was way out there. For any Christians who think their faith is being preyed upon by atheists and the pope, the message put across by the L. Ron posse must have raised some hackles. Set to fairly terrifying shots of the "Electro-psychometer" (E-meter, bitch!) and their kinda cross in a sorta church, a man's voice said:
"Imagine science and religion connecting? Imagine technology and spirituality combining? Now imagine that everything you've ever imagined is possible. Scientology. There are higher states of existence."
Then the words "spiritual technology" flashed on the screen, folded into "Scientology" and then "scientology.org." What the fuck, America?! Are we to be messed with? Should our enemies, foreign and domestic, fear us? Oh, hell yeah. That was some grade-A bat shit.
The Dannon Oikos yogurt ad had USA all over it! A pretty lady kisses yogurt off the mouth of John Stamos and then, by golly, he spills some of the product on his pants. She bites her lower lip as she contemplates ... science and religion connecting, perhaps? Right when she's about to face-plant into Mr. Stamos' lap, the ad comes to an end, but the bumper slammed the message home: Fuel Your Pleasure. (Death from above, jihad-boy!)
Bruno Mars, the impossibly talented singer, rocked the halftime show. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were rammed into the middle of his set like a dog shoving his snout into the crotch of a blue jeans - wearin' woman at a Texas prayer meeting. (Hey Ma, I write for the L.A. Weekly!) I wondered why the RHCP were deployed to kick wild ass with one of their songs released when Bruno was only 6 years old. Was it to shoot a wad of high-velocity testosterone into the pop posturing of Mr. Mars, in an attempt to strike an "oh baby"/"aww yeah" balance and give America an awesome dude twofer? I thought RHCP should have gotten more time.
Fox let it be known that the popular show 24 is coming back as 24: Live Another Day. Why? Because a fuck-ton of people will watch it and Kiefer Sutherland's post-24 show, Touch, didn't give him nearly enough opportunities to pull the slide back on an automatic weapon and give us what we want so bad: body count and QGT (quality gun time).
Bob Dylan's onscreen appearance in the epic-length Chrysler ad must have rubbed some people the wrong way. (Judas!) I think he should have campaigned for better lighting. The script was USA all the way, with generous amounts of subtext.
The opening line was: Is there anything more American than America? (More American than the 101st Airborne unleashing holy hell on your ass? Guantanamo? No, probably not.)
But it was the geo-strategic belittling of two countries and a region that struck me as intense:
So let Germany brew your beer. (With what's left of Berlin.)
Let Switzerland make your watch. (Aren't they cute with their little tools and no-balls neutrality?)
Let Asia assemble your phone. (They're used to long hours and cramped work environments.)
We will build your car. (Because we said so.)
But what seemed to cause the most outrage, besides the thin wallets of those who bet big on the Broncos, was the interracial family on the Cheerios commercial and the multilanguage rendering of "America the Beautiful" in the Coca-Cola ad. Really? What's more American than America? Apparently not this immigrant-friendly soft drink! What shall the xenophobes drink now? Certainly not German beer.
To our enemies all over the world who plan America's demise, please take my advice. Give up now. No matter what, you will lose. You will lose it all. For the sake of your children, replay the hi-def footage of the Seahawks and the Broncos smashing into each other as hard as they can, and then watch the ads. This is what we do to ourselves. Imagine what we will do to you.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.