The Super Bowl isn’t just the biggest night of the year for football fans, it’s also TV advertising’s main event.
Possibly more entertaining than anything the NFL can come up with, this year’s crop of commercials featured everything from a helpful beaver to Justin Bieber. Despite their variety, most of the spots fit into one out of a few categories. Here’s the best of the groups.
Most of these movies are months away from hitting theatres, but that didn’t stop filmmakers from seeking future moviegoers. Animated parrot flick Rio and Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 stood out amongst early looks at movies including Kung Fu Panda 2, Captain America,Rango, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Thor, Mars Needs Moms, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Fast Five, Battle: Los Angeles, and Limitless.
It happens once every four years, then goes away for another four, at least Stateside—World Cup fever. If you lack the attention span to watch a solid commercial-free 90 minutes for maybe a 1-Nil result and don’t want to relearn all the names, rules, and strategies you tried to pick up the last time around, this Lego-ized montage of last weekend’s US/England matchup is for you. Gotta love the way the video immortalizes English goalkeeper Robert Green’s epic case of butterfingers in Lego! More hard-core soccer—um, football—geeks might appreciate that there’s a whole website, Legofussball.eu, devoted to Lego reproductions of German league matches, in addition to a whole slate of World Cup 2010 games coming up. Just wondering when they’ll add the Lego vuvuzelas.
In a play to be his nation’s saving grace, hall-of-fame curmudgeon Mark E. Smith gets all soft and sentimental over…World Cup soccer—er, football. A case of a project too absurd not to be true, the Fall frontman has recorded an unofficial English team anthem called “England’s Heartbeat” with a duo called Shuttleworth. What’s even more unexpected is that Smith seems to play it pretty straight, getting patriotic in a way that could only be inspired by a tradition of sports futility. So England hasn’t won the World Cup since 1966, but considering the winning streak that Smith’s on this year with the latest, greatest Fall album Your Future Our Clutter, don’t bet against ‘em this time.
Many of the IPL’s leaders of fanatic glee and cheer hail from Australia. Would it be immodest or perhaps ill-advised for Indian women to gyrate and shake in the nearly naked costumes of India Premier League’s cheerleaders? Whatever the take, it is, however, clear that with foreignness AND fair-skin on their sides, these white recruits easily circumvent the normal social sensibilities that keep the flesh trade in the shadows. Yet, just as the tightly bound bopping bosoms provide a well-needed respite from the seemingly endless cricket matches, one only need observe the commercial interventions in the telecasts of these games to see the underlying cause of what cultural critic bell hooks calls ‘worshipping at the mantle of whiteness’.
Sales of the famed skin bleach Fair and Lovely have been trumped in recent years by the introduction of Fair and Handsome, which tries to bring men out of the closet by rebranding the same product with masculine colored packaging instead of pink. Commercial breaks in cricket matches now show products such as Vaseline’s local line of body care products recently released a whitener that promises to match the corps with the already bleached face. “Fanta face / Coca Cola body,” says one old disco chime heard throughout West Africa where the skin-bleach phenomenon nearly rivals that of South Asia. The best, however, is Fela Kuti’s song “Yellow Fever”, which makes small work of mincing up the worship of whiteness to a darn funky beat.
Nonetheless, globalizing consumerism has accelerated the trend like a sticky pedal, as all sorts of Americanisms spread worldwide with local flavors. Star endorsements and proper packaging spells profits, by any means necessary. Yet, not to be outdone, the India Premier League importing white women to titillate the fans is a new high (or low) in the internalization of native inferiorisation. It celebrates native ugliness with Pom-Poms and glitter, fair feminine flesh set against glitz of this region’s favorite pastime. Few fans seem to peel away from their zeal. Fair and Handsome is one of the most widely selling skin creams on the planet according to many marketers. Hence, sitting in the stands, under cloak and cover from the sun’s darkening rays, fans in India can enjoy whiteness while their boys play ball. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
Lavish extravaganza overshadowed by an athlete’s tragic death.
A crowd of about 60,000 people was present at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Details about what exactly would happen were kept secret, though expectations were high because of Beijing’s expensive and critically renowned 2008 ceremony. In America, it garnered publicity because of the debut of the music video for the remake of “We Are the World”, which will raise money to aid Haiti. (Actually, the video aired about 13 minutes prior to the event.) $30 to $40 million dollars was spent on the LED screens that simulated tribal animal constellations, fabric hangings designed to look like icebergs and totem poles, high-wire acrobatics, pyrotechnics, lighting, costumed performers, and 108 projectors as Canadian celebrities including Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky, Sarah McLachlan, and k.d. lang performed.