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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/5/14

The Super Bowl: Bread and Circuses for a Rotting America

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(Article changed on February 6, 2014 at 05:03)

The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl
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In what will be remembered as without a doubt the worst Super Bowl in history the Seattle Seahawks stomped the hell out of the putrid Denver Broncos and their record setting offense. With all of the typical hype it is too often lost how the game has come to exemplify the grossest of excesses of The Homeland and American capitalism.  The media frenzy is always enormous, more so this year given the matchup of the best offense versus best defense in the NFL and the likely coronation of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as the best ever.  The 43-8 final score is deceptive of the thorough ass-kicking that was administered by the angry birds from the Emerald City who beat hapless Denver in every phase of the game. I quit watching right after Manning, a prolific choke artist threw a wounded duck under pressure that was intercepted and returned by Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith for a 69 yard touchdown and an insurmountable 22-0 lead. Smith went on to win the MVP award and his post-game interview that was hijacked by a 9/11 "truther"  was the highlight of the evening when it came to sheer entertainment value but more on that later.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate example of the bread and circuses of the modern era with the house band playing the Star Spangled Banner to the delight of millions as we stumble towards the abyss. What is promoted as a sports championship game is in actuality a more often than not bad football game stuffed, chunked and wedged in between million dollar commercials that are have become as integral as the event itself. The buildup goes on for two solid weeks in the run up to our American bacchanal and it is typically the most watched television program of the year therefore making it the premier vehicle to reach the largest marketing audience.  The Super Bowl has come to be the perfect representation of America in all of its current wretched overindulgence, apathy and decadence.  It is a ritual of honoring everything that has gone wrong with this society particularly the ongoing worship of the militarism that has ravaged this land as though it were a cancer.  There are honor guards, platitudes aplenty towards our heroic troops who are the imperial storm troopers sent forth by corporations, energy cartels and the moneychangers in their Wall Street temples to conquer foreign lands and plunder their resources for profit. There is also the mandatory military flyover, this year there was a swarm of helicopters from the 101st Airborne to delight viewers -- it should because they are paying for it .

Not only is the national reverence for the military an integral part of the game but so are the economics, it is the most single most important day for corporations outside of Black Friday and they have hours to hawk their products to a captive audience.  There is also the huge spike in food and beverage sales as the game has been transformed into a national holiday. In an interesting piece at website entitled "Earth vs. the Super Bowl" some actual numbers on corporate expectations of food consumption are listed including: 1.25 billion chicken wings100 million pounds of avocados and only Christ knows how much booze, wine and beer.  The National Retail Federation estimated that 12.3 billion dollars would be spent on Super Bowl Sunday alone.  The whole of the nation just wallows in the trough of drunkenness, gluttony and glitz and idolatry and thanks to the miracles of modern technology it is all electronically exported to the rest of the civilized world as well. To the victors go the spoils and the victors are the networks, advertisers and the NFL itself who all reap the financial windfall, the actual winning team has to settle for bragging rights and a silver plated phallic object known as the Vince Lombardi Trophy. This year however, thanks largely to the ugly embarrassment that was clad in orange stinking the joint out anyone other than Seattle fans and masochists had tuned out by the end of the halftime show depriving advertisers of a very lucrative fourth quarter.  

The site for the 2014 game, Metlife Stadium in New Jersey was the first outdoor cold weather Super Bowl in history and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a big show  out of sitting in the actual seats instead of the customary luxury suite in the event that it was frigid. He lucked out because the conditions were pretty decent for this time of year and the timing was just lucky enough to get the thing over with by the time that the snow started falling in the area on Monday morning. It would seem to be more than idiotic to put the NFL's showcase event in a city where a severe winter storm could ruin the whole thing but as always in America money talks - New Jersey gave the league an $8 million tax break and picked up the tab for all state public safety expenses for the game, that's the way that they roll in Chris Christie's domain. The choice of New York was also of some importance in further mythologizing the new country birthed on 'the day that changed everything' and aerial shots prominently featured the brand spanking new One World Trade Center tower, a beautiful monument to a nation arisen from the ashes and united under fascism.

The security was of course overwhelming and extremely costly.

Sports Illustrated magazine in particular fawningly chronicled the full power of the American police state in last weeks issue (not available online yet), with the cover touting the Super Bowl XLVIII Top Secret Security Plan - although one might ask how it could be a secret if it is published in the magazine.  The piece, entitled "Protect This House" by Thayer Evans was a six page laundry list of everything that was brought to bear to prevent a potential terrorist attack on the celebration of all that is American. Included were:

Observation towers, Backscatter vans (see Chertoff group exploitation  of the Underwear Bomber plot to sell their machines), marine vessels, inspection stations, helicopters, SWAT teams, military fighter jets, drones, restricted flight areas, decontamination sites, an intelligence operations center (Fusion Center) at an undisclosed offsite location five to ten miles away", security cameras, facial recognition software, intelligent video software, attack dogs, expert scientists, HAZMAT teams, chemical and biological air monitors (ironic given the stinker of a game), snipers, emergency mobile trauma units, undercover cops etc. etc.

There is something very seriously wrong with a country that not only accepts this level of authoritarianism but actually revels in it. According to Evans' piece the NFL had allocated $11 million for Super Bowl XLVIII security preparations. Professional football in America with its gladiatorial masculinity, violence and arsenal of war metaphors has become a symbol of the modern military state as it has existed since the "day that changed everything' on September 11, 2001. It has always been a forum for militarist American imperialism and the now fully mutated form of capitalism that a constant state of armed conflict needs to exist. Former NFL player Dave Meggyesy drew much criticism when he nailed it in a speech delivered at Syracuse University that "symbolically and metaphysically, big-time football represents our violent culture and the mode of authoritarianism. It has as its keynote competition and militaristic, organized violence." This was in the seventies during the Vietnam war, a completely unnecessary and ruinous military misadventure in which over fifty thousand Americans and millions of Vietnamese were killed for nothing. It was in this land which like Iraq posed no threat to the United States where this once great nation formally surrendered the moral high ground, making the down payment on the sale of the national soul to the devil that was finalized on September 12, 2001. Meggyesy would not be featured in a sleazy rag like Sports Illustrated today, where the worship of the warfare and national security states are wrapped up with puff pieces about athletes in order to penetrate a demographic to spoon feed it the hypocrisy of our precious American exceptionalism.

For all of the money that was expended on Super Bowl security and more live testing of the coming omnipotent police state  in preparation for the day when the order is given and the NSA begins the distribution of pickup lists it was exposed as a fraud and a sham during the post-game show. When the MVP Malcolm Smith's microphone, adorned with the NFL corporate logo was seized by a man named Matthew Mills who by himself circumvented all of that expensive security to get into Metlife Stadium and deliver his comments. In this excerpt from the New Star Ledger story on Mills he explained how he pulled it off:

Matthew Mills, an 30-year-old independent journalist from Brooklyn, told his aim was just to get close to MetLife Stadium -- which had layers of security in what's supposed to be the most secure sporting event in the United States -- so he could conduct some fan interviews.

Then the self-described 9/11 truther saw an employee bus at Secaucus Junction and hopped aboard.

Around Mills' neck was an old credential from a festival he covered, a rectangular badge that, at quick glance, didn't look too dissimilar from the ones issued to media members, team employees and others who worked the Super Bowl.

He also used a common refrain whenever hassled by security, which is supposed to verify each credential or ticket with a barcode along with putting attendees through other security screenings.

"I just said I was running late for work and I had to get in there," Mills said. "It was that simple."

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Donn Marten is a free lance writer and consultant who resides in West Central Florida.

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