Major Themes We Can Glean from Last Night’s Super Bowl Commercials

Major Themes We Can Glean from Last Night’s Super Bowl Commercials

If You Want to Make Clichéd, Vast Generalizations About American Exceptionalism-on-the-Rebound, Please, Use Detroit. In the last few years, these have become somewhat of a cottage industry. Basic premise: scenes of gritty homes + broken storefront windows + Detroit signage + American iconography = stirring middle American hoorays! Since Eminem joined some gospel singers onstage in a rattrap theatre in downtown Detroit for a soulful rendition of that song from that movie where he fucks Brittany Murphy in a factory, professional advertisers have been whoring out the down-but-not-out memes (it’s not just about the domestic car industry, people, it’s about us, America!) for all they’re worth. This year, it was Clint Eastwood spitting into the camera about how Chrysler is going to go out and kick some ass this year like an old man in a nursing home fuming about Obama’s tax policy.

Go Daddy Continues to Boldly Invert Signifier and Signified. If Swiss linguist Saussure says that humans use overt codes—i.e. cars, hot dogs, football memorie from high school—to really talk about sex, then I appreciate the sort of postmodern just-come-right-out-and-say-it approach of Go Daddy. (Do they, like, sell websites?) Tits and pasty white dudes with laptops out hi-fiving each other over the presentation of said mammaries. I guess that’s what men really desire. (That and a domain name?)

Monkeys Do a Good Job Representing Obnoxious Co-Workers of Your Current Job. There seem to be two uses for monkeys when they’re dressed up like humans—either re-enacting famous scenes from old movies or banging room-service breakfast plates like cymbals in bed at the company-purchased hotel room. And I appreciate them both. Nothing confirms your suspicion that you hate your job as a mid-level manager in the finance department of a local energy company than seeing monkeys in suits and ties brushing their teeth and grabbing your junk while they pass you in the cubes at work.   

Polar Bears Are Cuter Than Babies. Try as the Pro-Life billboard movement has to fetishize cute babies in the minds of Americans, Coca-Cola by virtue of putting scarves on computer-generated polar bears and having them adorably roll around on melting ice caps fighting over a bottle of Coke continues to dominate in the cuteness category. Frankly, babies weren’t done any service by this year’s ad crop either: slingshot babies, talking babies, speed-dating babies, etc…Just put one in a tire and call it a day.

The Ultimate Male Fantasy is Not Women or a Fridge Full of Booze, But a New Car. If you possess a brain stem and a penis, you are typically turned off by how the Super Bowl presents your gender. I’m not going to raise the stereotype flag. I like wheels propelled by engines, bras, coolers full of beer, maybe the odd frat boy getting hit by an errant football in the groin. But, I was sort of exhausted by the what-you-really-go-crazy-for-is-a-new-car pitch we kept getting during that boring third quarter. Did anyone see that car flying off X-Games-style jumps? Boooooring. And dumb. Usually I just get up to get more chips and dip at that point. Or go outside and rub my hard-on against my 2004 Subaru.

Dunstan McGill