On February 2nd, over a hundred million Americans (one third of the country) will sit on their couches, bean bag chairs, and bar stools to stare at their televisions for a few hours, while two groups of men throw a ball around and roughly hug each other. We can be sure that those flamboyant uniforms were made in sweatshops, and we can be equally sure that the millions of jerseys and hats that their fans will inevitably buy will also be made in sweatshops.
Americans themselves will consume limitless hotdogs, nachos, and beer. Aside from Christmas and Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday is probably the most sacred holiday in the United States. And as new fuses with the old, we can rest assured that the whole event will be tweeted from all the nooks and crannies of the country.
This year (like every other year), I won’t be participating in the festivities. You shouldn’t participate in them either.
But thou dost protest too much, methinks! Surely the Superbowl is harmless! I’m just going to go to this Superbowl party and get trashed! It’s just a bit of fun! I just want to be entertained for a while! Nothing’s wrong with that, right? Right?
We should probably start with the ideology of the Superbowl.
Why do you care about the Superbowl? I’d imagine it’s because the people around you care. Either that or you maybe have some delusion that you’re actually on one of the teams or something. Or maybe you just like the idea of getting drunk and yelling at inanimate objects as a hobby.
Besides, this year it’s the Denver Jellyfish versus the Seattle Cuddley-Tickley Boo Boo Bears. You probably don’t even live in Denver or Seattle.
You’ve tricked yourself into caring about something totally meaningless, simply because everyone else has. Or, if you’re like most of the people I know, you don’t actually care, but you’re just pretending. Or you’re just doing something to get out of the house.
Ultimately, it’s all totally meaningless.
Except, of course, for the real winners of the Superbowl.
The clothing manufacturers.
The sports teams and their affiliates.
The multinational corporations.
In the end, it won’t really be a battle between the Seattle Sillyheads and the Denver Poop Machines. It’s going to be a battle between giant corporations and your free will. And these corporations are spending $4 million for 30 seconds to influence you. It’s a battle to get you to buy their things. It’s a battle that they intend to win.
After all, that’s when everyone engages: during the commercials.
The commercials are so funny! They’re so silly! Look at those crazy people and animals! Pass me the Doritos! Pass me a Pepsi!
Of course, most people are just looking for a distraction. Who wants to deal with the fact that West Virginia’s water is poison or that Texas will just have executed a Mexican national? And certainly no one wants to talk about the Central African Republic or Myanmar.
And I can understand that. But when you turn on the television, you’re legitimizing the ignorance of these issues. You’re also legitimizing other things: the culture, the consumption, the waste.
When you turn on that television, you’re legitimizing the incomes of the Denver Daffodils and the Seattle Scoobie Doos. These men are literally bankrolling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Are you cold right now? Think about the people on the streets in Denver and Seattle.
The Superbowl simply offers an escape and it isn’t a helpful one. It provides an escape for individuals, it provides an escape for the media, and it provides an escape for those in power.
It isn’t something you do alone, it’s the participation in a culture. And this culture is one that is simultaneously symptomatic and perpetuates capitalism.
Turn off your television!
Instead of watching the Superbowl, you should gather your friends for a party where you can eat organic/vegan/kosher/halal/locally grown food and talk about how you can build a better community.
Or stay in and read a book.
Watch a documentary.
Write a story.
Paint a picture.
Play some music with your friends.
Get into a passionate conversation on religion or politics.
Learn about something new (like Kyrghyzstan, Australian Aboriginal groups, or the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Or you could do the unthinkable and volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter during the time you would spend watching the Superbowl.
Of course, if none of that sounds appealing, you could actually go out and play football. At least that way you get exercise and do something new with your friends.
You’re likely to find that now that you don’t care about the Superbowl, you’ll have freed up your time to care about things that are actually important.