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Super Bowl Sunday
1.27.2003 by Dan, every Monday.

So there I was, typing merrily away on ICQ, talking with one female friend about how boring Robert Jordan's books have become, and to another female friend about how we're doing in the ”Neverwinter Nights Anonymous” support group, when both suddenly excused themselves within thirty seconds of each other. Amusing coincidence, right? Wrong. It turned out that they were both taking off to watch the Super Bowl Half Time Show™. “Whoah!” I said to the one unlucky enough to be slower. “What are doing watching the Super Bowl? I wasn't even aware you could name your local team!” (I know I can't)(Okay, so it's the Titans. Excuse me for occasionally leaving my house.) “Oh, I just watch it for the halftime and commercials!” she replied, before taking off to watch Avril Lavinge and Pantera sing a duet or whatever “event” they have planned. My other friend told me a similar story: “Halftime and commercials.”

My life has began developing a disturbing trend of late, where it throws non-sequiturs and otherwise incomprehensible happenstances at me, then sits back and has a good laugh while sparks fly from my frontal lobes. This is one such instance.

Now, let me be perfectly clear here. It's not that two intelligent Tolkien-reading women in their early twenties, who do not know each other, are watching the Superbowl. I find gender inequality a rather silly concept, all in all, and recognize that a woman is just as capable as any man of developing intense emotional attachments to local sports teams and ludicrously overemphasizing the importance of their successes and failures. And yay for anyone of any gender who does that. Because I am for anything that keeps anyone capable of that level of irrationality off the streets.

My problem is also not the fact that I, a Reddish- Blooded American Male, have such a complete and total lack of interest in televised competitive sports that I was unaware of the date of the Super Bowl until the Sunday morning in question. I am so apathetic about that that I don't even care that I don't care.

No, my problem is the fact that these two smart women, both of whom I love and admire, and not in the creepy obsessive stalker way like I do with Heather Graham, were watching this “Television Event™” for the commercials. I ask you, gentle reader, when exactly did I cross over to Bizarro World? When did the commercials become the attraction, and people fast forward through the game? Because I cannot think of a way that this can be healthy. How cool can a Pepsi plug be that you can't wait until Monday evening or whenever to see it? It's a commercial, remember? Helloooo?

I suppose I can kind of see the logic. Everybody will be at the water cooler, talking about the Toyota ad where the SUV drives past Jesus walking on the water and drenches Him because it is just that “extreme.” You don't want to be the only one staring blankly as the discussion turns to the Nike ad where all the kids in the sweatshop sneak on Nike shoes and race out the door to freedom until Phil Knight catches them in a net made of hundred dollar bills. That makes sense. And when you place these ads in an incredibly hyped game in which most of the screen time spend waiting for the referee to make a call or for the coach to end the time-out, and listening to the commentators desperately flail about for something to say, the ads look positively wonderful, the cool glass of water after the long desert of boredom.

Basically, all this boils down to one little question: When you're watching something where the strongest point, the most powerful draw, is hype over the ads, you should ask yourself if you're enriching your life in any way by watching, or simply playing into the hands of cunning marketers. Would you visit a web site because you heard the pop-up ads are really cool? Sometimes, it's best to just take a step back and read a book.

Now if you'll excuse me, the Clio Awards are coming on.

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