Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hipcrime Vocab on the Super Bowl

For those of you who want something more critical of the Super Bowl than my goofy posts about commercials and animals, I recommend the latest by EscapefromWisconsin over at the Hipcrime Vocab: Are You Ready For No Football?
It's once again Super Bowl Sunday, and time for this post I wrote a couple years ago, but forgot to post on the big day. So, in honor of this Packerless Super Bowl, I can finally post it. In it, I wonder just how much of a shelf life professional football has due to a combination of economic contraction and lawsuits from concussions.
Escape then compares football to both the Roman Legion and gladiators and the U.S. to the late Roman Empire.  I highly recommend the history lesson, which he interrupts with a screed about commercials.
Commercials are as big a deal as the game now, and one has to wonder at not only the mental state of the people these commercials appeal to, but the tremendous waste in a society that can't even keep it's infrastructure sound or it's basic public services funded. How much of our economy is dedicated to this essentially useless and unproductive activity? How much economic "growth" has it been responsible for?
I wonder what escape thinks about my interest in marketing and commercials?  Probably not much, if at all.  I've only seen Escape on my blog once, commenting on Matt Taibbi and Mike Lofgren are on the same page about the global rich.  I wouldn't mind him commenting more.  Aside from the personal, he's again raising good questions about advertising, which is the life blood of the media industry.  The real question becomes "what good is the media" and how can one maintain a worthwhile media sector without advertising?  I don't think subscriptions are it for mass media (HBO on the one hand and public broadcasting on the other notwithstanding) and a TV tax like Britain has would go over like a lead balloon--or worse.  So, no, I don't have any answers right now.

Escape also talks about how lawsuits by players and ex-players could shut down the game.  I suspect it won't, but it might make it more safe.  If it does end football, well, it might be what finally turns the U.S. into a power in the other football, men's soccer.  Wouldn't that be a switch?  In any event, I'm betting on the legal situation ending football sooner than general economic decline.  Extending the Roman Empire metaphor, we need our bread and circuses.  Besides, the one thing that will get Americans to act is messing with their entertainment, something I've mentioned again and again.  The end of football would interfere with Americans messed up priorities and we'll want to keep football as long as possible.

Escape concludes with this hilarious video animating one of Bill Maher's New Rules, Bill Maher - Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

A short essay animated from the audio recording of 'The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass'. It was originally performed on 'Real Time with Bill Maher'.
Everyone enjoy your socialist sports spectacle!


  1. Yes, I fell out of my chair when the lights went off for a half an hour. The fact that we can't keep the lights on for the duration of the superbowl sounds like something that would happen to a banana republic rather than the world's only superpower. I think Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism summed it up best:

    "When I went to New Orleans three years ago, it was clear it was the future of America: visible poverty and decaying infrastructure. And this is yet another sign the US is firmly in third world territory. Please name a similar level screw up (with so many ad dollars at stake!) for the single biggest sporting event in a first world country. I can only hope the rest of the US carries our decline off with as much character and good humor as the Big Easy."

    We weren't too poor, however for this:

    Taxpayers have spent at least $471 million on the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina, allowing a state reeling from the nation’s most-expensive natural disaster to keep its pro sports teams and rebuild a part of downtown destroyed by the 2005 storm. Benson, meanwhile, is worth $1.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after acquiring the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Hornets, a 26-story office tower that houses state agencies and a mall next to the stadium.

    The Super Bowl’s return for the first time in 11 years marks a cultural rebirth because “the five Fs of Louisiana are faith, family, food, football and fixing flats,” James Carville, a political consultant and the co-chair of the title game host committee with his wife, Mary Matalin, said on a conference call with reporters. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC has said the game will generate $185 million in direct spending.

    The public has supported that culture by paying for the Superdome, subsidizing the Saints and guaranteeing that Benson would have state leases for about two-thirds of his tower. Team President Dennis Lauscha said Benson helped lead rebuilding in a neighborhood mostly abandoned by businesses after Katrina.

    U.S. taxpayers spent about $10 billion more on stadiums and arenas for professional sports teams than had been forecast, according to a 2012 book by Judith Grant Long, a professor of urban planning at Harvard University.

    The costs of land, infrastructure, operations and forgone property taxes add 25 percent to the taxpayer bill for the 121 sports facilities in use during 2010, increasing the average public cost to $259 million, or $89 million more than the $170 million commonly reported by the sports industry and media, Long says in the book “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities.”

    Benson, 86, who made his money in car dealerships, banks and real estate, bought the Saints in 1985 for $70 million, preventing a possible move to Jacksonville. He often waves a fleur-de-lis umbrella after wins in a sideline dance known as the Benson Boogie.

    Yep, the rich are literally dancing on the sidelines. And both sides are managed by brothers, kind of like the Carville/Matalin duo. But what I found most sad was the ad for Toyota showing the former pride-and-joy of the U.S. space program, the space shuttle, slowly being hauled down a boulevard to cheering crowds to be mothballed while towed by a Japanese-made truck. I wonder how many people picked up on that symbolism. Eventually even the densest Americans are going to get the message. Pass the bananas.

    1. This is such a good response that I've been delaying responding to much of it for a year. I think that means that it deserves an entry of its own. Stay tuned.