Commercials: The best of the worst Super Bowl

The 53rd annual Super Bowl on February 3 was notable because, quite frankly, it was so forgettable, the most forgettable football game ever. And ever.

I make this point in the kindest way possible. I love football and Super Bowls. Like many of the 100 million Americans who viewed this Super Bowl, I’m obsessed with the thrill of the game. Give me chips and dip, a brew, big-screen TV, an overstuffed easy chair, and I transform into a football slob who yells at the referee when calls go against my team…and I want excitement in every play. They (whoever “they” are) claim that baseball is our national pastime. Nay, ’tis wrong. Armchair quarterbacking is our national pastime, not only in football and other sports, but also in politics, social issues and, well, many things.

Even though I know the players and teams gave it their best, I felt like I wasted my time watching this Super Bowl. The score was the lowest in Super Bowl history. Defense trumped offense during the game, a recipe ripe for low-scoring, less exciting outcomes. There was only a woeful tiny, tiny smattering of almost-halfway-exciting plays. The overnight ratings showed this lackluster Super Bowl had the lowest rating in the last 10 years.

The halftime show reeked of confusing boredom with rappers whose words couldn’t be understood. Adam Levine was the lead singer. He’s normally a great entertainer; this time, he was barely passable. Unfortunately, he dramatically ripped off his shirt to proudly display how his upper body is creepily etched with indecipherable tattoos. It ain’t cool, Adam, put your shirt back on.

The Super Bowl’s redeeming quality came from the commercials, most of which were humorous, entertaining and enjoyable.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) chased around a mutt whose barking ordered Amazon’s Echo to purchase dog food.

In a Hyundai commercial, Jason Bateman was the spiffily dressed operator of an elevator that carried riders way down and way down and down to jury duty, vegan dinner, a root canal, and, yucky, even worse.

Ragged-faced Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker, whose chest showed more flesh than not, promoted a beer, Stella Artois, that most consumers of brew, including Mr. Bridges, just call Stella because they don’t know how to pronounce Artois.

Among other advertisements, a dragon magically melted a Bud Light commercial into a Game of Thrones promo.

There was also a crazy-fun NFL commercial where famed football heroes at a black-tie banquet (almost 50 of them in the commercial, plus a couple of refs) dove for a loose football. I still belly-giggle when I think of it.

By far, the most important commercial focused on the role of the news media.

In a harried, worrisome world where the U.S. president is quick to use the label Fake News for any news story that doesn’t support him, the commercial offered an insightful look into how democracy dies in the darkness without a free press. Narrated by Tom Hanks, the commercial sponsored by the Washington Post focused on three critical messages: knowing empowers us, knowing helps us decide, knowing keeps us free. The commercial is worth viewing—click here.

The game-winner: Jason Bateman as an elevator operator in a Super Bowl commercial. Watch...

The commercial, by the way, never mentioned the president. Nonetheless, it only took a few minutes for Donald Trump, Jr., to tweet out hateful criticism of the commercial for its “leftist BS.”

The mere fact that Don, Jr., has the freedom to speak his inane view is—I would like to emphasize—one good example of why free press (and, by extension, free speech) should be heartily supported by all of us.

On average, the time length of a professional football game is 3 hours and 12 minutes. The action—the time that the ball is actually in play—totals an average of 11 minutes. I didn’t time this Super Bowl, but I imagine the length of the game exceeded the average, this as a way to slip in more commercials, each of which cost $5 million for 30 seconds.

Having written all of the above, I’m kind of wistful now, and wishful. For 2019, I wish we would’ve had a Super Bowl of Commercials rather than a Super Bowl of Football Game.