Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Displacement activity

Much excitement among the plus-sized locals of my little corner of the world this past weekend, as Superbowl XL is played in Detroit. This is apparently the best thing to happen to Detroit since the French left in 1763. Looking around at the blasted post-industrial moonscape of Detroit, I suspect that the French got the better of the deal, although perversely they went on to recreate it down to the smallest detail in Clichy–sous-Bois, including the chippy, “multicultural” population.

The XL in Superbowl XL means 40, not extra large, tho’ the association was hard to avoid whenever the cameras panned across the tightly packed, lard-arsed crowd. Mexican Waves soon took on tsunami-like dynamics all their own, pitching many of their participants onto the field, where they lay gasping and floundering like a key scene in evolution washed up on a pre-historic beach.

The Superbowl is one of those secular traditions that unites all Americans, regardless of ethnicity and background, in the pursuit of beer, pizza, hot dogs, chips and dips at Superbowl parties in homes all across the land. Where a Brit would go out and drink, an American stays home and eats. And eats.

One cannot avoid noticing the peculiar prudishness of American society regarding drink and sex. Such is the widespread disapproval of alcohol that I soon learnt not to invite my colleagues or neighbours for a pint. To any American not of Irish extraction, drinking in a pub is but a short step from the most abject displays of feckless Irish Catholic alcoholism. Wives fumed, curtains twitched, and chastened husbands stopped returning my calls. Fortunately I have since made contact with the local Gaelic underground, who know what the pub is really all about – ie, abject displays of feckless Irish Catholic alcoholism. But at least they’re relaxed about it.

Whatever. The point is that most Americans would not dream of getting drunk anywhere but in their own homes, but think nothing of publicly gorging on the kind of junk food that would sicken a hyena if the quantity didn’t choke him first. Surely there is sublimation of some sort at work here.

Of a piece with this perversely misplaced puritanism was the Superbowl Half-Time show, featuring the Rolling Stones. Grandpa Mick is 62, Keith Richards, 62, Ronnie Wood, 58, and Charlie Watts, 64. These men are literally pensioners, and songs they sang were older than some of the players on the field. Yet the network actually censored them, turning down the volume on Mick’s microphone at crucial moments to save tender American ears from the words “cock” in Start Me Up and “come” in Rough Justice.

The third song, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, somehow escaped unscathed, as the moralists’ penchant for the red pen was undone by their hopeless naiveté. Was there a slightly broader grin – perhaps a glint in the eye – as Sir Mick belted out the last verse?

When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
’cause you see I’m on a losing streak.

Do they really not know what “losing streak” refers to here? How sweet…

Update! Bears appear once more doing what they do best in this Superbowl advertisement. Coke-addled marketing execs save up Superbowl ads all year for their humour, and they’re the highlight of the entire pointless exercise so far as I’m concerned. You can see the rest here. FedEx and the Magic Fridge were ok, too.

Some Steelers fans celebrate their team’s victory in Superbowl XL. A chorus of “Who ate all the pies?” is probably redundant.


R. Sherman said...

Ivan, I grew up a Southern Baptist and concur with your analysis. Booze = evil. Potluck suppers of 10,000 calories = good. Thus, if you're going to destroy an organ, better the pancreas via diabetes than the liver via cirrhosis.


Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Randall - It's a puzzler, isn't it? Shame they don't teach Socrates in school any more. "Moderation in all things - including moderation..."

Anonymous said...

So what does "losing streak" mean here?

Anonymous said...

I suspect the 'losing streak' may refer to that time of the month, ain't it?

Congrats for joing the drinking Gaelic underground. I didn't have to, as graduate students are prone to getting royally boozed whenever they have the opportunity. For many of us, it's the natural continuation of routines we learnt in college. It's a way of making merry after your already puny ego has been crushed to smithereens by your research advisor. One has to find some way of having fun, y'know.

Speaking of fun, the 8.75 women in your picture look mighty cheerful themselves.


Gorilla Bananas said...

I came to the conclusion that American football would make more sense if the cheerleaders had a greater role.

Aunty Marianne said...

That's so true. I got I.D. carded in the US while trying to have a glass of white wine at lunch. One. With a very nice piece of fish.


Wierd. Wierd. Wierd.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Des - you are correct, of course: it's rag week, the painters are in, and les anglaises sont arrivés. Good to hear you grad students have such an effective strategy for releasing your frustrations. It's been a while since I was one, in Edinburgh, but it certainly worked for me. I recall waking up in some very odd places.

Speaking of releasing your frustrations, thanks GB for the exquisitely illustrated link. Your well-argued case deserves increased exposure, as indeed do the cheerleaders. But it might be dangerous to assume that all the girls would welcome the troisième mi-temps you propose. The cheerleaders of my local team, the Panthers, certainly seem a little conflicted as to who to party with...

And Aunty M - serves you right for looking so young and innocent. Perhaps if you didn't spend so much time bathing in virgin cats' blood?

PI said...

Ivan; An excellent post. Although
I have family members dotted around the States there are great gaps in my understanding of the American way of life and my eyes would glaze at the mention of Super Bowl.
Was anon correctin his interpretation of 'losing streak'?

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Pi - 'fraid so. What rascals those Stones are, eh? I wonder they don't blush singing it :)

Stubby said...

I wonder none of them broke a hip playing it...

I've noticed that everyone under 50 thinks the Stones are waaaay too old to be performing, and who wants to see Mick's 62 year old belly??? And everyone over 50 thinks the Stones are still the Greatest. Band. Ever. and that anyway, you're never too old to rock and roll! Which only proves how friggin annoying those damn Baby Boomers are. Cos yes you are. Yes you most certainly are.

Ivan the Terrible said...

You'll have to speak up a bit, Stubby - those Baby Boomers are a bit hard of hearing nowadays...