Please to Settle Down, America

I need to rant one more time about the Super Bowl halftime show. This post will be disjointed because I’m going to quote this article and comment on each quote. So it begins…

Executives at PepsiCo, historically one of the largest and most successful Super Bowl advertisers, are threatening to pull out of next year’s Super Bowl if they’re not given clear assurances that such an incident won’t happen again. “We’re very serious about this,” PepsiCo spokesman Mark Dollins said.

PepsiCo executives also were disappointed that viewers were talking more about the Jackson incident than the commercials. “It speaks to our extreme disappointment that all that quality work has been overshadowed,” Dollins said. The various PepsiCo brands, including Frito-Lay, Sierra Mist and Pepsi, aired six commercials on Sunday’s broadcast.

I know why people are talking about this more than the commercials: the commercials sucked. And what Janet Jackson revealed was no worse than some of the commercials Pepsi has aired. And Pepsi has no right to be indignant. Until they stop selling sugar water that rots bodies, they aren’t allowed to be indignant about a semi-bare breast rotting minds.

The incident shocked a society that seems to be ever more unshockable, but this time it might have gone too far for many Americans. On one side of the debate: outraged citizens who immediately lit up the CBS switchboard with complaints.

Their sentiments were no doubt much like those of M.B. Ellis, 78, owner of a small publishing house in Mobile, Ala., who wrote in a letter to USA TODAY’s Sports section: “What a depressing display of filth, obscenity, cruelty, and just plain stupidity! What ever happened to dignity and good taste in this country?”

“What’s in line for next year’s halftime show?” asked Ed Zak, 43, a father of three from New Smyrna Beach, Fla. “How about two ‘artists’ having sex at the 50-yard line – all in the name of NFL entertainment. When you do, please give us a head’s up so I can prepare myself how to explain to my kids what they watched.”

I’m not unshockable, but I’m not shocked by this. This is stupid. And if you’re so upset, why write to USA Today? What can they do about it?

The Super Bowl’s halftime show itself has become something to watch as it has become edgier. It has gone from marching bands and Up With People to attention-getting pop stars in elaborately produced spectacles. And it’s gobbled up by the viewers.

Because lemmings love a good crapfest.

Sex literally sells: A piece of jewelry similar to the one Jackson was wearing on her breast was available on eBay before the day was out. A sun shield design for pierced nipples had an opening bid of $19.99 and was touted “as seen on TV!”

Did it literally sell? Are people buying them or are they just for sale? There is a difference.

For its part, AOL, which spent an estimated $10 million to sponsor the halftime show and broadcast several ads and promos during and before the game, said it’s not very happy with the outcome. The company dropped plans to offer Internet access to rebroadcasts of the show “in deference to our membership and the fans,” said Ruth Sarfaty, an AOL spokeswoman.

“In deference” to their membership and the fans? Dear AOL: I already have a mommy, thanks. Since you think I need a new one, I don’t ask her approval when I want to watch something on TV or the internet. I’m never going to ask for your approval.

Parents Television Council president Brent Bozell rejected the denials. “The performance, including the offensive material, was obviously scripted,” he said in a statement issued by his parents advocacy group. “We find Justin Timberlake’s apology and explanation to be dishonest and disingenuous.”

I’ll group this with the next quote.

The Family Research Council and the Southern Baptist Convention also denounced the show. Council president Tony Perkins urged the FCC on Monday to hold CBS accountable. “CBS should know better than to turn the halftime entertainment over to MTV, which relishes its ability to shock. CBS would do well to adhere to the adage ‘If you sleep with dogs, you’ll get fleas.’ I am sure there is a lot of scratching going on at CBS today.”

Thanks for judging people. Justin Timberlake is a liar and “CBS should know better”. Family values protecting our nation. Kick ass.

Some ad experts didn’t buy official explanations, either. Jerry Della Femina, ad guru and CEO of Della Femina, Rothschild, Jeary & Partners, a Manhattan-based ad agency, said Monday that even if the networks weren’t aware that Jackson was going to bare her breast, CBS should have known what to expect.

“When CBS put these people on the halftime show, they had to know what they would get. They are screaming, ‘This is terrible.’ It’s like Claude Rains discovering there’s gambling at Rick’s in Casablanca: ‘I’m shocked, shocked.’ For CBS it’s a little too late.”

This is a brilliant PR stunt. Get your ad agency talked about while moralizing. Maybe they can produce ads for The Family Research Council.

But not everyone was unhappy. TiVo Inc., which makes digital video recorders enabling instantaneous replay, said viewership of the revealing moment nearly doubled that of the rest of the broadcast, the biggest jump the company has ever measured.

And how does TiVo know this? Because they monitor their customers. Think about that for a moment and tell me that the halftime show is our nation’s biggest concern.

“We have no say over halftime entertainment,” said Jeff Kuhlman, spokesman for the Cadillac division of General Motors, which aired three spots during the game and was the official vehicle of the Super Bowl. “We think the NFL will do what’s right for their brand. Quite frankly, we’re very comfortable having our brand aligned with their brand.”

I don’t own a Cadillac, but I applaud them for being reasonable about this.

FYI, I also know why Cadillac is being reasonable about this. They’ve thought about their commercials from the Super Bowl. They realize that the “our car is faster than the speed of sound commercial was illogical. If the car was faster than the speed of sound, it would’ve taken a moment for the sound to catch up. That concept is cool. But the driver’s voice wouldn’t have been delayed because the car was sitting still when he said “wow”. His voice should’ve been heard, followed by the car’s road noise catching up to the car.

This entire scandal is tiresome. I imagine that the rest of the world is laughing at us. To that, I say this: Grow up, America.

One thought on “Please to Settle Down, America”

Comments are closed.