Pop icon Christina Aguilera put her own spin on America’s National Anthem (and forgot the lyrics) in the opening ceremonies for Super Bowl XLV, February 6, 2011 in Dallas, Texas, much to the chagrin of many fans. Approximately 400 ticket holders were denied seating at the game because the local fire marshal indicated the temporary seating was unsafe days before the forty-five year-old championship game. The traditionally over-the-top Super Bowl commercials (and the reason some wives tolerate the game with their spouses) were, at times, disappointing and at least one has sparked a controversy on a global scale.
All of the above statements are part my opinion and part the opinion of many comments I’ve been reading on the boards today. But what does this say about America ? Is this yet another shining example of how far political correctness and an abundance of time and means to voice our opinions, has taken a civilized society?
The National Anthem
I have heard many amazing renditions of this particular song. I consider myself a proud American. When I hear the familiar strains, I stand. (I don’t put my hand over my heart. That’s the Pledge, folks.) I honor all of those who have fought for our country, and our freedom to sing The Star Spangled Banner at the opening of football games from neighborhood leagues, to the Super Bowl. I like to sing along.
When Christina Aguilera put her over-the-top mix on the standard, she took that away from me. As an American, I am offended by this. As an American, I respect her right to sing it as she sees fit. But is this really appropriate at an internationally televised event? I say, “No.”
KISS recorded a live album a few years ago. At the end of the performance, they played an amazing, heart-throbbing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. It was their concert. The fans loved it because it was KISS, and they knew what to expect. Part of entertaining is giving your fans what they want.
Yesterday was not a Christina Aguilera concert. It was an event shared by Americans, and football fans, world-wide. I say, “Shame on you, Ms. Aguilera, for not recognizing that we all wanted to sing along.”
Ticket Holders Unseated
A mass of football fans, specifically fans of the Packers and the Steelers, watched Super Bowl XLV from the sub-levels of the stadium. Their seats did not exist. Those in charge knew the seats wouldn’t be there and made no effort to notify ticket holders in time. Granted, the officials, more than likely, did not have the information to directly contact everyone by name, but they had the means to get the word out.
The restitution offered to the ticket holders has been monetary. Free tickets to Super Bowl XLVI, triple the face value of the tickets lost, a few souvenirs. But what about the lost memories? What about the creation of horrible memories?
Unfortunately, money doesn’t answer all the problems in our topsy-turvy world. Sadly, there is really nothing the NFL, the teams, or the officials can do to make up for the losses these fans have suffered. Season tickets to their team of choice might be in order, but that won’t replace seeing their team compete on the world’s greatest gridiron.
The true crime here was the timing. Had the fans known far enough in advance (even a few days), they would have been less harmed; less hurt. They could have enjoyed the games in their homes, making lasting memories that meant something, rather than spending the game in inhospitable surrounding, licking their wounds.
I say, “Shame on you, stadium and NFL officials, for not thinking how disappointed and hurt your fans would be!”
I’m a huge fan of the Super Bowl commercials. Every year, I watch to see if I will have a new favorite. Groupon, a web-based group-rate discount house, chose to approach their services with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. For this, they are being criticized by Super Bowl fans. Timothy Hutton began the spot with a sobering tone in his voice, discussing the plight of the Tibetan people, and ended the ad bragging about how much money he saved on a plate of fish curry by buying on Groupon. I have to admit, I laughed. But should I have?
Have we really lost our collective sense of humor? Or do we live in a world where there is no such thing as a harmless off-color joke?
Sadly, I believe the answer to the above questions are “yes” and “no”. We have lost our sense of humor when the best way to get a laugh is to highlight the plight of others. We do live in a world where teasing has given way to bullying, and international communication has lead to a heightened awareness that we really are fellow travelers to the grave.
The bottom line, however, is Groupon took a chance. While it may have raised eyebrows, it worked. Because regardless of our delicate sensibilities, we are all talking about a company I, personally, did not know existed the day before Super Bowl XLV.
I say, “Shame on you, Groupon, for not learning from our collective consciousness that just because something is briefly funny, doesn’t mean it’s not hurtful.”
The Super Bowl is not a war. The gridiron is not a battlefield. But the contest of skill, endurance and strategy has become an American way of life. We look forward to the Super Bowl each year, and even those of us who don’t follow a particular team tend to celebrate with the rest of America as the furies play their game. American football is more than a group of over-paid athletes running around after a little brown ball. It is the heart of us. It is the idea that for a few hours each week, we can forget the little things and simply enjoy a pastime that honors the very best in all of us.
For most viewers, the problems with an inappropriate rendition of the National Anthem, the unfortunate displacement of fans, and a poorly-thought-out advertising campaign did not detract from a great game. The contest was played; the champions honored.
And we are still American.
Super Bowl XLV
The New York Times