Feb 2, 2015
I watched my first Super Bowl in at least 10 years last night. The Seattle Seahawks lost in a last minute defeat to the “deflate gate” New England Patriots.
The reason the Super Bowl has become such a big deal over the years - but especially in the past decade - is because everyone has a subconscious desire to belong to a “tribe”, and the various teams satisfy this primal urge. It’s remarkable how successful this corporate take over has been, but only if you discount the power of the subconscious in our day to day conscious lives.
Before the 1960’s, it was possible for Americans to belong to the USA tribe. White Americans, anyway. OK, White, straight, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, anyway. However, as the US became more “integrated” and “progressive”, its ability to hold together as a tribe gradually withered away in equal proportion, and now we live in a country united in name only, but with huge swaths of the population who truly hate each other’s guts.
In a way, the NFL recreates the ancient city-state for us - complete with icons, colors, banners and flags, uniforms, “soldiers” and all the rest. And while we who live in a city may be very different from one another and treat one another like shit six days a week, on any given Sunday we are all members of the same team. Go Hawks!
So it was interesting to see this Super bowl with the New England Patriots on one side, representing the old school idea of the nation-state, vs. the Seattle Seahawks, a modern 21st century corporate feudal town. Seattle has been a sort of idealized corporate city ever since the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. First it was a Boeing town, and now it is a Microsoft, Costco, Amazon town. It’s all very nice and modern and progressive, and everyone’s interested in sustainability and organic food. A corporate poster child - never mind the “externalized” costs. We are fortunate the corporate titans smile upon us.
The game was full of patriotic ads and iconography designed to pull on our old tribal heartstrings. But one ad in particular said it all:
The TurboTax ad shows the original patriots doing their Boston Tea Party thing, mad as hell, until the Brits offer that it won’t cost them anything to FILE their taxes, represented or not. The patriots reconsider, and join the corporate system.
Just like the Patriots are now simply a football team in the stadium that Pepsi built. As Paul Revere rolls over in his grave, I sign out with the only song that does justice to a sense of bitter irony.