Super Bowl Sunday: the razzle dazzle apex of our modern times

At this time people are gathering in homes and watering holes, to the degree there is a distinction between the two, for the celebration of what has become an American holiday, Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s often been said that Thanksgiving is the most distinctly American holiday, aside from Fourth of July which jumped the shark years ago. After all, thanksgiving is based on sketchy historical legend (USA!), is as religious as you want it to be (perhaps quite a bit!), and is largely centered around overeating. This is indeed very American. Today, however, I posit that Super Bowl Sunday is truly the most 21st century American of holidays.

For Super Bowl Sunday is also based on legend, legend with B-roll. Any TV producer will tell you this is better.

Super Bowl Sunday is in actuality entirely secular, but in practice highly religious, with more invocation of God than a church service — both by the players on the field and the desperate fans who plea for them to be faster, or better at catching balls, or not.

And overeating? Unlike Thanksgiving there is no practical expectation for food to be homemade or wholesome in any way. Prepackaged snacks, canned beverages, jarred dips are not only acceptable but celebrated.

Like the modern news cycle, the events of this afternoon and evening will be blared across the land at maximum volume. The event itself is of real importance to only a tiny percentage of the population. The result will indeed be forgotten not just in our lifetimes, but within weeks.

It is further fitting that today’s Super Bowl be played by two storied NFL franchises, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. These teams are named for professions that shed a significant majority of jobs since the foundation of the franchises that carry their names, indeed in the case of the Steelers the industry’s very emblem on their helmets. There are more laid off packers and steelworkers watching today’s game than active ones, and the irony of this will not be mentioned during the broadcast. (Though, to be fair, those guys never talk about how Lions would probably be able to eat Eagles if they actually fought).

All of this makes Super Bowl Sunday 2011 the most modern American of American holidays: Well-intentioned, corporate, flashy, intermittently exciting and predictable, gas-producing, gas-consuming, an orgy of misappropriated passion.

I’ll be watching, of course. How can you not?

(Image courtesy my fantasy football team).

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