I had someone in to fix our heater on Friday. This is but the latest in a long string of guys out to fix my heater, which is a tale of some frustration perhaps for another time. However, as I tried to make some small talk (never a forte of mine) I asked if he was going to watch the Super Bowl.
“Hell yeah!” he responded enthusiastically.
I nodded. A pointless gesture, as he had his head buried in the furnace.
“I only watch football three times a year,” he continued. “The Super Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and whenever I’m at someone’s house and they have football on.”
That about summed me up too, save for the part about the Rose Bowl and the part about watching it at someone else’s house because I hate everyone and consequently never go anywhere to be put in that situation.
But the Super Bowl is different. There’s just something about it.
Maybe it’s the over the top pomp and circumstance. I mean, the thing has two anthems. Two. I’m utterly dumbfounded as to why they bothered to include “America the Beautiful”. Why is it there? Is it a patroism appetizer, something to get your red hot American blood pumping so you can properly appreciate the majesty of the actual national anthem? Is it an advance apology for the inevitable mangling of “The Star Spangled Banner” to come? It’s a mystery.
Or maybe it’s the fanaticism. Don’t get me wrong, I can be crazed about stuff myself, but football fans take it to heights I can only aspire to reach. The hair, the costumes, the war paint. That’s not everyone of course, but … Look, you won’t catch me dressing up like Rogue every month when the next issue of X-Men comes out is what I’m saying.
Though maybe I would if the X-Men were in the Super Bowl.
Which would, incidentally, BE AWESOME.
I’m pretty sure it’s not for the sport. I grant that these guys are buff. (Okay, some of these guys are buff.) But it’s a forty minute game that takes four hours to play, has team members with one lone job, and has the nerve to proclaim the victor the “world” champion of a sport that only one country plays. Not exactly qualities I find endearing.
And yet, I watch. Why? What’s left?
Betty White getting tackled in the mud and coming back with “That’s not what your girlfriend said.” Yeah okay that’s worth four hours of my attention.
It’s the commercials that turn this into an event. I feel dirty for even saying that, for giving marketeers that much power, but it’s true. This is something that I schedule my weekend around. Something that I genuinely look forward to in all respects, even enthusiastically watching the game that on any other day I wouldn’t care about. Which is maybe why I still feel so damned insulted.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling marginalized to some degree or another by the things I love best. Walking into a comic store with my husband and having the guys behind the counter ignore me to talk to him when we’re there to pick up my books. Going to Magic: The Gathering tournaments and being referred to solely as “the girl”. Either having people outright refuse to play me in a video game because they assume I won’t know what I’m doing or if they do play me they patronize and “go easy” on me for the same reason. Guys assuming that because I’m female I only like to listen to pop music and worship The Go-Gos.
These moments have their perks. Spouting out a stream of facts and details gathered from my 20+ years of active comic book collecting. The look on a competitor’s face when I crush them in four turns with my red/green deck. Taking Ken out for a spin in Street Fighter. Raining down upon them with my music catalogue.
Though I do sort of worship The Go-Gos. Jane Wiedlin♥♥♥
These experiences are mine but they’re not unique. Any girl who’s ever liked a “boy” thing knows where I’m coming from. I think we’re getting there though. Video game developers are beginning to realize just how many girl gamers are out there and how very not interested we are in Barbie Fashion Unicorn Rainbowtacular. And sure the comics world still has Chuck Austen, but it’s also got Gail Simone. Even CBS put out an advert in the Super Bowl with a special “Hey there girls-who-like-football, you can have heart attacks too and if you died I would be sad :(” Right on! Myocardial infarctions for all!
All joking aside, I really did think this was cool. It took some of the most expensive advertising time in the world to acknowledging a non-typical portion of the audience and didn’t try to sell me a damned thing but my own health and well-being. (And perhaps goodwill toward CBS, but I’m trying to tone down the cynicism for a moment, work with me.) It was unexpected and made me smile.
And you know what? I think that’s what I’m going to choose to take away from the 2010 Super Bowl advertising campaign.
When I came to do this post today, I had planned to bitch. I had planned to rant and rave and raise merry hell using ten dollar words to make me feel better. I even rewatched those ads that pissed me off the most to get me good and pumped up to write this.
But the more I thought about it and stewed in my grrrlrage, the more realized I shouldn’t be any more angry about this than any man who saw the ad. Or, rather, men should be just as angry as me. For every woman who was shown to be domineering and shrewish there’s a man who’s pathetic and miserable. Is life like that? Seriously? Is your marriage so empty, your life so bereft of joy that the only way to find happiness and fulfillment is buying a Dodge with a FloTV in your pocket? If the answer is “yes” then who am I to stop you?
These and other companies paid good money, a hell of a lot of it, to speak to 106.5 million of us. Some chose to make us laugh or think or weird us out (I’m looking at you, midget football player groundhog day thing). Others decided to directly insult 40% of its unprecedentedly large audience and indirectly insult at least half that much again. It’s their money and their right to do exactly that.
But this right here, this stuff you were hoping to get? It’s my money. And you know what I’m gonna do with it?
Buy me a goddamned Snickers bar.