Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ain't Life a Bitch?



A few hours after the POTUS went on TV and talked in moral relativistic terms about how we make good bedfellows and killer allies with his buddy Putin, Americans tuned into the Superbowl, America's second favorite violent ritual, a centerpiece of Debordian spectacle for a dying culture. "Hallelullah/Praise the Lord for all good things/We blew them into fucking shit/They are eating it", Harold Pinter commented in his famous poem "American Football". Progressives, fancying themselves average Americans and attempting to revel in collective experience, tried to find shards of spectral light in this morass, but found little else but an enthusiastic orgy.

Prior to the Big Event, Heinz announced that it was offering their employees a paid day off on the Monday after the Superbowl, but it turns out that this only applied to their salaried workers. Hourly workers were stuck picking up the slack while their white collar comrades slept in. So, progressives looked to the ads for the feels. Here, there a lot of nondescript multiculturalism, which wouldn't have bothered to move an eyelash 6 months to a year ago, but for some reason felt like molotovs to those waiting in the wings for some show of identification. But was there anything really radical about Google and Airbnb just showing a bunch of diverse faces? Annheuser Busch, who regularly give the bulk of of their campaign contributions to Republicans, came out with a staunch pro-immigration piece- in which a white German named Adolpohus is harassed while looking to start a legal drug empire in America.

Even more insiduous was 84 Lumber's ad, which seemed at first glance to be a wordless riposte to Trump's America. The ad depicts a mother and daughter facing some minor adversity attempting to immigrate out of an unnamed Latin American country (psst, it's Mexico). The two hitch a minimally scary ride in a truck and take shelter in a house, observing a coyote before the ad fades to black. Viewers hoping to catch the "rest of the journey" rushed online, where the traffic crashed 84's website. Sadly, the zinger is in the rest of the video. It turns out that they hadn't crossed the border yet, but further movement found them reaching a giant wall with a "big beautiful door" in the middle, echoing sentiments Trump made in his interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The CEO of the company is a Trump supporter. (source).

Alas, as a last ditch, viewers turned to Lady Gaga, doing what Gaga does best- spectacle-infused medleys embedded with winking references, coded enough to delight those looking for hints of subversion and hidden enough so that Marco Rubio could delight with glee at good ol' American show business. In the end, it was like the ads, identity politics as substance without taking aim at the specific perpetrators of injustice, who watch a ton of TV and get riled up at this shit. It was Hillary's gambit of managerial better-world-ism with the Pepsi logo displaying loud and proud in fireworks behind the wreckage of a new world order. Revolution as civility in a world run by pirates, nazis, and thugs.

So, somewhat unsurprisingly, a game where women aren't invited, where two white men tell a bunch of black guys to brutalize each other's bodies over a ball they keep kicking and throwing slightly farther away from them (often causing concussions and brain damage in the process) wasn't the bastion of hope we'd anticipated it would be. Geez, maybe our institutions are complicit in all of this. Maybe capitalism won't save us.


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