I doubt if I’ve ever watched a Super Bowl game all the way through, though I came close on Sunday evening. I also doubt that I’ve ever watched even a large fraction of the Halftime Show, and in recent years, only the one in 2005. I also had never seen a program by Mick Jagger and his outfit before Sunday, but I’d heard of them, of course. Since their baseness is well-known and since the show of 2004 was so obscene that the public outcry had to be remarked, with the show last year reflecting an effort to clean up the halftime mess, I decided to watch the Halftime Show this year to see if any lessons had been learned, as well as to see how it fitted in with what is supposed to be a family-oriented production, especially in light of the hero-worship exhibited by children toward athletes and entertainers.
The current philosophy driving professional football is that anything goes physically (short of murder, unless necessary) and that anything goes entertainment-wise no matter how crude – taunting, teasing, sensual gyrations, celebrating, and other showboating exercises such as jumping into the stands for the proper glorification of an icon who has just scored, not that he isn’t quite well-paid for doing just that. The current philosophy apparently driving the entertainment industry, as a whole (including football, a purely entertainment-oriented enterprise), is that crudity is a veritable god to be worshiped in every possible way (and some that seem impossible). In Halftime 2004 (yes, Halftime is a show within a show and shares top billing with the game), obscenity was featured in the obviously well-orchestrated baring of Janet Jackson’s breast, the level to which the producers seem to aim the matter – roughly that of the high-school sophomore guy – being somehow thought as modern, up-to-date, sophisticated, strictly up with the times.
So…I made myself – and that’s no exaggeration – watch Jagger and crew, the Rolling Stones. Jagger, a 62-year-old juvenile, had the appearance of having been hit by an 18-wheeler on his way to the activity. He and his two guitarists were dressed in black (though Jagger sported a white shirt) and they cavorted around and atop some sort of stage or runway that surrounded a bunch of what seemed to be mostly girls, with perhaps some older women (baby-boomer groupies?) mixed in. All three looked like warmed-over death, with their contortions and facial expressions roughly the male equivalent, one supposes, of the three witches in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
I didn’t realize it, since I had never paid attention to Jagger, that he doesn’t actually sing. Admittedly, I couldn’t understand the words if he was messing with words, but he actually didn’t speak, either, so that didn’t matter. He is a grunter. Bobbing up and down on spindly toothpick-like legs, in his “concerts” he simply grunts, apparently, and goes through gyrations that are supposed to be sensually exciting, but actually make one wonder if he just needs desperately to go to the bathroom. There were times when it seemed he would throw his crotch out of place, much like the crotch-hopping/duck-walking episodes rendered by linebackers 15 yards past the play and down the field just after they’ve sacked the opposing quarterback. Actually, that part, obviously designed to be sexy, was funny, sort of reminded one of the chimp shows at the local zoo. Periodically, someone would throw what appeared to be an object of clothing – panties, perhaps – up on the stage. Once at least, Jagger tossed it back, and one of the guitarists was waving some kind of cloth or clothing as the Rolling Stones departed the stage. A viewer could not be blamed for feeling dirty when the orgy was over.
This is the statement made by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue regarding the Super Bowl halftime show: "We were extremely disappointed by the MTV-produced halftime show. It was totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show. The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans. We will change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the halftime entertainment in the future in order to deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl." So much for the NFL, which is not likely to change much of anything, especially since it was another opportunity to make money, too. Sprint paid the NFL a record $12 million to be sponsor of this year's halftime show, and was running a contest to fly the winners to Detroit to see the Stones up close.
The spectacle presented at the half lies directly at the feet of the NFL, but in a larger sense it reflects the slippery slope of immorality down which the nation is sliding. TV shows such as “Wife-Swap” and the “Reality” orgies and “Desperate Housewives” and the “Queer Eye, Straight Guy” stuff, sated as they are with fornication, homosexuality, adultery, nudity, off-color language and sexual innuendo, are the stuff of depravity, unfit for not only young people to see, but any people to see. To have a show at halftime of the Super Bowl, watched by millions of young people and even in parties held at churches (hard to believe, but true) featuring the bestial antics of a Mick Jagger is unconscionable, a glorification of the uncivilized. The following seems appropriate:
Pathetic bawling, piercing screams,
Its signals loud and clear,
The sounds of warped, nightmarish dreams
Belied the stockyard near.
Its inmates, much as if to curse
Their day of pointless birth,
Were loud their status to rehearse...
In grief...or grisly mirth?
I chanced to look upon the scene
While out for pleasant stroll;
Its sounds and stench - so loud and keen -
Attacked my very soul.
On drawing near, I saw them...bare,
Those beasts whose fate was sealed,
And wondered, “Could they know or care
When fate would be revealed?”
I see them yet astride manure
Or lolling in its muck...
Just selves to serve...their space ensure
To bite and grab and suck.
Nor yet their squalor thus perceived
As being mud, manure;
Instead they seemed to feel relieved
In their surroundings, pure.
In facing death, they showed but lust -
From mercy did they shrink;
And methods used were all quite just
For food, for sex, for drink.
At clods, with dulled and useless minds,
So soon to be extinct,
One looks again...in them he finds
No reason...just instinct.
They recognized no mighty power -
No actions to atone;
Their god was life - this day, this hour,
Their worship - flesh...alone.
And what a pity just to think
That all was so for naught,
That they had lived but here to stink...
By utter stranger bought!
For no more purpose than to ease
That stranger’s appetite,
Their lives were lived with mud and fleas;
Their end...this gory sight.
I left that stockyard far behind,
Rejoined the people-stall;
And found when viewing humankind...
I had not left at all.