I wrote this post in 2011 before the Super Bowl and, because it’s still relevant, it has become my annual pre-Superbowl blog post. As you watch the Superbowl (or any television, especially with kids around), please consider the ways that you are being shaped by the media and advertisements you allow ourselves to be exposed to.
I don’t care about the game…
I just watch it for the commercials
One of my pet peeves is how many times I hear that phrase in the weeks preceding the Super Bowl. I have a guttural reaction because it is such an honest sign of our culture’s addiction to entertainment. We watch “for the commercials” even though we know that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to cloak powerful messages about cravings, sexuality, consumerism, fulfillment and identity in a 30-second charade of funny, provocative, and/or racy images and dialogue. I am not saying there is anything inherently wrong with entertainment but hope we start asking better questions about what we are entertained by.
The average American is exposed to hundreds or thousands of commercial advertisements each day. On TV or Hulu, on the train, bus, or subway, on the highway, on the radio, on Facebook or Google, on the street corners. The amount of TV our culture watches is out of control, just as the amount of time we spend on Facebook as a culture is out of control. We are swimming – no, drowning – in a sea of not-so-subliminal messages vying for our attention and our allegiance.
In the midst of a world filled with poverty, violence, injustice, and disease – in a world where we are so normalized to receiving messages – what messages are we sending about what is important, valuable, beneficial, noble, true, excellent, or praiseworthy?
I saw this video today (yes, yes, I recognize the irony) and would encourage everyone watch it. Or, better yet, watch it with your friends before you watch the Super Bowl – not to make you or anyone else feel guilty, but to bring some desperately needed perspective to our media- and advertising-saturated lives.