Different Sorts of Rubbish: Super Bowl Edition


George Orwell would not have liked the Super Bowl. In his 1945 essay “The Sporting Spirit” he writes, “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.” Orwell may have a point. But, the Super Bowl is about more than hubris, violence and sadism! It’s also about Bruce Springsteen, expensive advertising, insane snacks and John Madden’s bumbling intellectualism. According to this guy, the Super Bowl might also be one of our country’s most important religious festivals. For now, let not think about Sunday’s showdown between the Cardinals and Steelers as the gluttonous spectacle of nationalist chest-thumping that it probably is, and instead try to enjoy it with some football links…

Remember bare-footed place kicking? In this article for ESPN, Chuck Klosterman suggests that this 1980’s fad can be attributed to the NFL’s futuristic brand of conservatism, and its obsession with futuristic technology. This might also explain why, in this video from Super Bowl XIX, Ronald Regan performs the game’s ceremonial coin toss at the White House, and has the video beamed to the stadium in California via his notorious Star Wars Satellites. Klosterman’s article does not explain why Lil Wayne also writes for ESPN.

Artist Tim Laun‘s project “Hang Time” involves an NFL punt-machine. He also hopes to build the Brett Favre Cyclorama: a circular panorama made from hundreds of television monitors simultaneously screening every game Favre played for the Green Bay Packers.

Why do Super Bowls produce so many awful/hilarious music videos? Everyone’s familiar with the Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle, but there is also the video Diamond Rap sung by Scotland’s American football team the Glasgow Diamonds, and these bizarre videos about Super Bowl XLII’s starting quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Perhaps this is an issue Ralph Nader can tackle as part of his new Sports Reform Project.

Thomas Seely lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and is currently riding the wave of the New Great Depression. More from this author →