Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The Collective Press (St. Augustine, Florida) 2005 article, "The Stupor Bowl Cometh" (Superbowl was in Jacksonville that year)
The "Stupor Bowl" Cometh
By Ed Slavin
A friend asked, "who's going to the Super Bowl?" I responded, "a bunch of rich people."
Residents are urged to "spruce up" their homes and businesses in anticipation of Super Bowl XXXIX. You're expected to redecorate and otherwise cater to skybox CEOs for an entire week.
Jetloads of corporate oligarchs are flying in. Actual fans of actual competing teams are a small minority of the stadium audience. Every cadaverous Fortune 500 corporation will be there -- spending what the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called "Other Peoples' Money."
Stupor Bowl tickets make great political or commercial bribes.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch's Fox network charges some $2.4 million to air a thirty second spot (plus production costs).
How many Stupor Bowl tickets, hotel rooms, bar tabs and prostitutes will be paid for by American consumers? How many unindicted corporate criminals will roam our streets?
Ever since football supplanted baseball as national sport, American moral values have been declining. Megacorporate culture venerates "team players and brute force -- Groupthink -- not skill, intelligence or individual achievement. America now treasures violence, overpaying "athletes" to maim one another (many playing injured and later crippled). America's football gladiators play roughly in unsafe conditions (cold, sleet, snow, rain). We venerate an indescribably unsafe workplace as a "spectator sport."
At least football players have a democratic trade union. So should all Americans.
Sadly, uninformed Americans hold up football players (and cheerleaders) as "role models" (not artists, musicians or civil libertarians). American football is a violent, slow, dumb, dull sport based on violence, meanness and bigness. (For a good time, watch Australian Rules Football, which emphasizes skill, speed and agility, not brutality).
America does not invest adequately in libraries and education. Is there any wonder why so many people don't know what's happening?
Our football culture is a great way to divert people from corruption and rot. Imperial Rome offered its citizens "bread and circuses." America offers its citizens football.
Every high school and college in America squanders money on football, many with expensive night games and fields lit at public expense. Why is American education in crisis? Misplaced priorities, with massive spending on football at the junior and senior high school and college level. Baseball pays for its own "farm teams."
All Americans pay for college football (NFL farm teams) and NFL football venues.
Corporate oligarchs exemplify NFL values.
America venerates violence while arms merchants turn America into a permanent warfare state, subsidizing corporate welfare recipients like Lockheed Martin.
Listen to a Pentagon briefing on warfare: you will hear football slang. Listen to warmongers stigmatize dissenters and call them "Monday morning quarterbacks."
Jesuit priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in 1918 that the world is "smeared, bleared and teared with trade."
Today, we are "smeared, bleared and teared" with football and its conformist "team player" ideology. It's everywhere and destructive of democracy and the health and happiness of humankind.
Corporate "crime in the suites" grows. We face declining real income, preventable workplace deaths and diseases, civil rights violations, gun deaths, Fox News and other media and corporate monopolies, pricefixing, shoddy defective products, dangerous prescription drugs, rapacious advertising industry, job outsourcing, NAFTA, environmental pollution, suburban sprawl, union-busting, whistleblower-persecution, bribery, chicanery, casefixing, election-stealing, propaganda, corporations that keep you on hold, anti-intellectualism, surveillance and other activities --- antisocial behavior "brought to you by" overpaid, unaccountable CEOs.
At the 1773 Boston Tea Party, patriots dressed as Native Americans, dumping tea in Boston Harbor, protesting British imperialism. (A surviving tea chest is proudly housed in a Boston museum display case, hand-made by skilled St. Augustine wood workers).
How should progressives "celebrate" the Stupor Bowl? As a symbol of greed, violence and corruption, promoting meanness, exploitation, and authoritarianism.
Authoritarians hate satire, but real Americans love it. Satire helps inform and entertain.
What do you think? A Stupor Bowl party might include mock "citizens' arrests" of CEOs and Bush Administration officials, with prison striped uniforms, pinstripes, handcuffs and Abu Ghraib style dog collars and leashes. A corporate "Hall of Shame" and.or teach-in might help educate the public about what Corporate America is doing to workers, consumers and our environment.
The whole world is watching -- estimated worldwide TV audience is one billion people.