All things considered, the Super Bowl is a pretty spectacular evening.
Dedicated fans and oblivious bystanders band together to watch the most popular single night in all of sport, even if the latter group spends just as much time failing at Flappy Bird and shushing the room during commercials like they’re the main attraction. It’s an excuse to purchase copious amounts of processed fats and sugars and concoct ridiculous culinary combinations (think anything edible, wrapped in bacon) and send a glorious season of football off in style. But there’s one area of the game where America needs to throw the challenge flag; the halftime show.
Most people don’t have anything bad to say about the break time festivities, but that’s only because there is so much enjoyable content sandwiched around that half hour mini-concert. Sure, the league books big names. Sure, it’s a flashy interlude to compliment the main event and we’re all supposed to worship live music, even if the whole “live” part isn’t true for 99.99999% of the country. Behind the bright lights, colorful explosions and sex appeal lies a well-dressed thorn in our sides. The fact of the matter is that there hasn’t been a relevant moment between the second and third quarters since Nipplegate.
Not a one. These performers can play their hearts out and utilize every aesthetic trick in the book, but they’re only increasing the divide between their relief performance and the game itself. In 48 years of sanctioned Super Bowls, the halftime festivities have evolved exorbitantly, from two-bit high school bands to rock and pop megaliths, but perhaps not for the better. One can’t help but feel that at this stage in development, the halftime show just doesn’t gel with the world championship of football.
Super Bowl XLVIII is a perfect example. Two jaw-dropping quarters of stifling Seahawks defense and a panicky Peyton Manning had us all believing that defense wasn’t dead, after all. The Legion of Boom may as well have been a phalanx of gladiators, roaming sideline to sideline and dishing out punishment to any receiver in their midst. And to compliment this macho renaissance effort we got… Bruno Mars and company sashaying around in gleaming golden suits, accompanied by a leggings-clad Anthony Keidis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
That’s not to call the talent or manhood of either Mars or the Chili Peppers into question- they’re brilliant artists, go harder than you or I ever will, probably made $20,000 during the time it took to write this sentence, and so on and so forth. Pedigree is beside the point. The real issue is the stark contrast between the glitz and glamour of the mainstream music scene and the unscripted struggle of professional sports. Music and sports may both qualify as performance art, but realize their methods of entertainment couldn’t be more different.
Of course, there will always be the argument that the halftime show captivates an audience who wouldn’t otherwise be enthralled with the game itself, and to that I say who needs you? Maybe if you start accommodating us by showing highlight reels during commercial breaks at your Toddlers and Tiaras viewing party we can talk. Maybe. Until that day, you know what you’re in for. This is the Super Bowl, otherwise known as a football game, not a pop culture spectacle. Take it or leave it.
There also exists a far more compelling case for keeping the current halftime format, one which will keep the current style expanding and becoming more ludicrous as time goes on. The name of that argument is money, more specifically the insane amount of it generated every second Mars or anyone else spends on stage. So it’s not to say that anyone should expect a change, even if America were to rattle the cage a bit (which wouldn’t happen to begin with).
But damn, wouldn’t it be nice to flip the paradigm on its head, now that things are so out of wack? What if the NFL had the championship of the national punt, pass and kick competition at the break, or a condensed Frank Caliendo standup session that involved his best NFL-related impressions? Or a panel of Pro Bowlers from around the league giving their take on the game as special guests? Or watch how long it takes a now-massive J’Marcus Russell to run the 40? Any combination of the above? Hell, I’ll even settle for half an hour straight of commercials. At least they’re amusing from time to time.
Proper entertainment is no longer the focus for true fans of the NFL. Rather, the halftime show is a chance to exploit the foolish masses who want an excuse to slam deep fried Oreo balls down their throats and get wasted beyond comprehension by the third quarter. It’s not popular sentiment, and it’s not going to inspire any semblance of change, but here’s to hoping that one day the league opens its eyes and caters to those who keep its product running for the other 364 days a year.