All Screaming Id, No Brains, No Honor
A Martian psychoanalyst observing the US Superbowl on TV would be shocked by the vicious animal spirits emanating from that spectacle, starting with the triumphal trumpet blasts borrowed straight from the old 1950s Hollywood epic movies echoing the prideful mis-steps of ancient Rome, along with the by-now clichéd CGI trick in the opening credits of gleaming metallic heraldic insignia spun into a military cordon of stars so as to protect the tender collective ego of this anxious nation. America wears its zeitgeist plastered right on its sweaty forehead.
Everybody knows that the commercial messages between the play-action amount to a national Rorschach test, and this year’s collection made us look more psychopathic than ever – starting with the advertisement for the Chevy Silverado: Fade in on a devastated nameless American city, the buildings smashed, the streets littered with debris, a gray ash coating over everything, and no living creatures in evidence…. A newspaper headline proclaims “2012 Mayan Apocalypse….” How reassuring! Wait! Something stirs behind a heap of rubble… it cracks open… and out drives a plucky American male lumpen “worker” dude behind the wheel of a gleaming giant pickup truck. He is soon joined by other men and their trucks, all of them blithely unfazed by the end-of-the-world.
A curious scenario. What’s the take away? I wondered, of course, where these plucky fellows would look for their next fill-up in the devastated landscape. Surely the service stations would miss the next scheduled fuel truck delivery. Are American men not expected to think beyond the immediate moment they are in? Are they on an intellectual level with lemurs and Holstein steers?
The Superbowl pageant is a window into the condition of American manhood, and the view is pretty pathetic. It’s a picture of men who feel so weak, insecure, and fearful that they have to compensate with fantasies of limitless destructive power. Ads for several new movies and (I think) video games followed the Silverado apocalypse romp. There were unifying themes throughout. All depicted the problems of life as 1) coming from outside our own society (or world); 2) in the form of aliens who wield mystifying technological destructive power; and 3) leaving a few human remnants on a smoldering landscape after a cosmic showdown.