I’m sorry. As a football fan, I could not wrap myself around enjoying last night’s Super Bowl matchup. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I could not watch the New England Patriots (and former Steeler locker room cancer LaGarrette Blount) hoist the Lombardi Trophy. And I couldn’t root for the Seattle Seahawks either, especially after they turned an amazing last-minute season-saving reception into a season-killing end zone interception and fight.
Personally, if I had my druthers, I would have hoped for a 0-0 overtime tie that was settled with a barely-through-the-uprights field goal.
And the best part of the halftime concert? Discovering that Katy Perry was the halftime act for the show-stealing Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. No arguments there, Missy should be brought back for next year’s halftime game. Then again, I’d rather see Phish or “Weird Al” Yankovic as the halftime entertainment than watch Katy Perry try to dance with poorly choreographed San Jose Shark mascots.
So I started watching the only thing that actually was worth my time – the Super Bowl commercials. And the trend in those commercials? Narration by historic icons to promote other products. John F. Kennedy talking about the ocean – as part of a commercial for Carnival Cruises. Am I wrong, or was the last time Kennedy and the ocean were synonymous was when the boat he was on – the PT 109 – got torpedoed? And then there was Muhammad Ali narrating over the exploits of a mechanically enabled woman as she skis and runs and dances – and it was for a Toyota Camry commercial? Man, that hurt worse than a left hook from Leon Spinks.
The Snickers “You’re not yourself until you eat a Snickers” spot, with Danny Trejo (Machete) as a Brady Bunch member was kinda cool; even the tiny cameo with Steve Buscemi was fun. And yes, the Coca-Cola and Budweiser ads stood out as well, although if I poured Coca-Cola into a computer server, I would suspect that instead of the ubiquitous soft drink curing bullying, it would probably melt my server and turn it into a paperweight.
But there was one commercial that, in my mind, really stood out. It was this commercial for an organization that tries to find solutions for domestic violence. And it just caught my attention right here and now.
Powerful. Emotional. Evocative.
And this aired in the middle of the most-watched program of the year, with billions of people tuned in.
Now was this a moment for the NFL to bring awareness to the issues of domestic violence and familial abuse, in the wake of recent incidents involving Ray Rice and Adrian Petersen and the like? Of course it was. The National Football League doesn’t put anything on the air unless it has total control over the message.
I mean, I could be totally cynical about how the NFL positioned this. It was the first commercial that aired after the first half of the football game ended; usually that’s the time when most people make that mad dash to the restroom to get rid of the three beers and two bags of Cheetos, while calling out, “Hey, is Katy Perry on stage yet?”
But the fact that the NFL aired this commercial in their Super Bowl at all – when they could have sold that time for another movie trailer or a Viagra commercial – says something for the NFL.
And I found out last night from my friend Laurie that this advertisement may have its genesis in a post on the social media site reddit. Apparently in response to a question on the r/askreddit question “911 operators, what is that 1 call that you could never forget?”, a redditor posted this harrowing story. And the text of his post – which, according to the original poster, occurred ten years ago while he was a dispatcher – formed the script for the Super Bowl commercial.
Domestic violence, including spousal abuse and child abuse, is a scary and troubling concern in our world. And we could argue that if this 30-second commercial could stop one person from suffering in silence, could save a child’s life from unnecessary abuse from an angry parent – then the commercial has done its job.
Is it a step forward? Yes it is.
But it’s only one step.
Now let’s make it walk. And make domestic abuse and child abuse walk out of our lives.
Hopefully that’s the message that the NFL can absorb as it takes its own steps to get its players to confront issues of domestic and child abuse. In other words, this is a great commercial.
Now let’s see if the NFL and its players heed the message that they send.