Welcome to our post-Super Bowl XLIV world. Did you see that David Letterman/Jay Leno ad? Aren't The Who so old and busted? OMG: PUPPY BOWL. Gay horses or something? A lot of amazing things happened. Then there was the football.
Let's get this out of the way: The Saints of New Orleans scored 14 more points than the Colts of Indianapolis to win the Super Bowl. OK, on to the good stuff!
The Super Bowl is known for having commercials, and this year was no exception. The commercial that made the most people spit Pepsi One at their plasma screen televisions was this one for The Late Show with David Letterman. Jay Leno, Oprah and Dave all watched the Super Bowl together:
The Times has the story of how the ad came together last week. The Wrap says Letterman even wanted Conan O'Brien on board. This proves that the entire Late Night War was nothing more than an elaborate set up for this 15 second Late Show spot. Leno and Letterman were conspiring the whole time! Tomorrow, we're going to see Conan, Leno and Letterman in an ad for Toyota where they drive a defective Prius off a cliff into a giant pool of money together.
Google was the night's other big non-football winner. Their 'Parisian Love' spot has been around the Internet for a while, but it's still most effective tech ad to hit the Super Bowl since Apple's famous "1984."
And we will give props to Snickers for hewing close to the classic Superbowl formula—sports + dudes + violence—but throwing in the twist of Golden Girls star Betty White and Abe Vigoda.
Just as the Late Night Wars made an appearance, so did the culture wars. This Super Bowl, millions of sports-illiterate nerds, women, Canadians and Gawker bloggers were introduced to Tim Tebow, the University of Florida quarterback who was not aborted by his mom, thank God. He starred in a couple of Focus on the Family ads to convince pregnant women that embryos aren't just a cluster of cells—they're precious potential Heisman Trophy-winners. This caused a level of pre-Super Bowl controversy that could not have been more out of proportion to the actual content of the ads:
Other ads touched on hot social issues as well. Mainly: Gays made social progress by being deemed respectable enough to sell things to straights. A Budweiser ad featured a bull and a Clydesdale who became 'good friends' (gay lovers) despite the 'fences' (conservative social mores) that were put up to keep them apart. And here is an ad for Motorola, where the hotness of Megan Fox turns a gay couple straight:
Meanwhile, straight men took a step back in a bunch of ads that stereotyped us as misogynist dudebros. Particularly offensive was an ad for Internet TV device FloTV, which told men to "take off their dresses" and stand up to the joyless, ever-shopping harpies who are our significant others. And this admittedly well-made spot for the Dodge Charger made us feel the same way as did that guy in the high school locker room, the one who whipped everyone's crotch with a wet towel.
When will society be ready to accept that all straight guys aren't schlubs who trudge around in a testosterone haze, resenting their overbearing girlfriends? Some of us enjoy being emasculated; it's actually sort of relaxing after centuries of oppressing everyone all the time.
A thoroughly unfunny Coke ad featuring The Simpsons plunged us deeper into despair:
Gays, gender, Conan O'Brien, The Simpsons jumping the shark. The concerns of the real world pressed hard on the slick, bright bubble of Super Bowl XLIV. Two players—the Colts' Pierre Garcon and the Saints' Jonathan Vilma—even had connections to Haiti:
We confronted our own mortality as embodied by the decrepit members of The Who creaking their way through the half-time show. Clearly, the children of Florida have nothing to fear from registered sex offender Pete Townshend, as long as they are able to move at a reasonable pace away from him:
And we realized that the Saints winning the Super Bowl doesn't just make them the world champions of football; it is also God's way of saying "sorry" for the whole Hurricane Katrina thing. As the Saints celebrated on the field and New Orleanians celebrated in the streets, announcer Jim Nantz reminded us of this, then listed a bunch of random parts of New Orleans to show off how connected he is to the place:
This Super Bowl we were ready to lose ourselves in some football while eating a quantity of chicken wings that could only be expressed in Roman numerals. Instead, reminders of the fundamental harshness and injustice of the real world kept dragging us down between every third play, making our chicken wings taste a little sour.