We reap the fat we pile on.
Exhibit A: The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl wasn’t anticlimactic simply because Tom Petty barely hangs on anymore and Tom Brady’s Bootgate turned out to be the greatest foot-in-mouth debacle in recent sports journalism. No, what most commentators are generally agreeing on is how tepid the ad fare turned out to be. Ads are supposed to be the Super Bowl’s Thanksgiving turkey. We put up with family/frustrating football so we can get to the good stuff. But this year there were few good ones (personally, the Doritos ad with the giant rat was fine with me); overall, the reaction was lukewarm at best. This isn’t that surprising.
Let’s start with ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Described by Comcast as a “hip, Emmy-winning daily scrapbook,” the network has always prided itself in its spoof ads: LaDainian Tomlinson filing mail, Greg Oden’s mug on cologne posters, etc. But ESPN took it a step further.
The playoffs had several historic elements involved: Brett Favre, Tom Brady and the Patriots. Before major playoff games, “SportsCenter” ran a clutch of spoof segments. Favre is used to the cold of Lambeau Field because he’s always naked outside the stadium. Tom Brady has had a mysterious shoulder injury for the past four years; Tom Brady is the fourth brother from “The Brady Bunch.” The last was unbelievably drawn out in E! True Hollywood-fashion. The spoof pieces were obviously playing on the fact that most people become manically frustrated with masturbatory Super Bowl commentary because there simply isn’t anything to talk about anymore (Yes, I’m talking about the Boot, but these pieces were running before that developed).
The conceit is that we still watch it. The “we the execs are in on it, too!” -style is obvious enough in the “SportsCenter” skits and in advertisements in general. If we’re laughing, manipulation can’t be all that bad. GEICO’s Speed Racer and Fred Flintstone shorts. Pepsi’s Tony Romo. If Hummer can sample The Books then it’s not an anti-scene pariah. The ante has been raised steadily in the past decade: You have to lay down some deep wit or sarcasm or something (