A super moral dilemma

The Super Bowl is one of the best examples of the American overindulgence syndrome. It involves excessive amounts of money, widespread commercialization, sexism and greed ?” all in one Sunday afternoon. We need to be more aware of what we are watching by creating a more positive Super Bowl game.

The first Super Bowl was played in 1967. At that point, it was titled the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It was created to promote the merger of the two leagues into a larger group by determining that year’s world champion of football in a final game. Lamar Hunt, then owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, came up with the name after seeing his daughter play with a Superball.

Now, I am not a huge fan of football as a sport. I was raised by parents who grew up outside of the U.S. However, I enjoy going to football games, especially as a social event. I like being at football and Super Bowl parties. I was especially enthusiastic this year when the Seattle Seahawks made it to the game for their first-ever appearance, even if they didn’t win.

It’s not that I have a problem with the game, it’s that I have a problem with the Super Bowl as a societal representation.

It is common knowledge that TV advertising during the Super Bowl is more expensive than during any other program. It is a premier time for advertisers to reach millions of potential consumers for their product. They spend millions making the commercials, plus millions more for the time.

I’ll be the first to admit that it is impossible to require a social conscience in business. Marketing and free trade principles place the emphasis on efficiency and profit. Businesses aren’t required to donate money to developing countries or charitable causes. When a company willingly spends millions of dollars for a 30-second television spot, it makes me wonder what they could do for the less fortunate.

Advertising during the Super Bowl has gotten out of hand. Businesses use tasteless and shocking marketing strategies to get the masses to purchase their product. In 2004, the year of the “wardrobe malfunction,” viewers were so distracted by the sight of Janet Jackson’s anatomy that they forgot about the commercials. There were ads that year for erectile dysfunction drugs, which demonstrates a double standard in Super Bowl marketing.

As a result of that year’s controversy, network executives were allegedly going to change the nature of the advertisements dramatically after pressure by the FCC. Unfortunately, there are always going to be organizations that know how to get around the system. GoDaddy.com, a domain registrar and hosting company, made quite a splash during the last two Super Bowls with model and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) icon Candice Michelle. Their commercial last year was a mockery of the 2004 halftime with explicit innuendo as Michelle’s tank-top strap repeatedly fell down, causing a “wardrobe malfunction.” The commercial was supposed to air twice, but it was pulled by executives after the first airing.

This year, the company was back with another suggestive ad with the same model. This time, she intentionally took off her top for an executive. The FCC banned the erectile dysfunction drug advertisements during the game after the incident in 2004. There appears to be more censorship of nudity in the media as a result of Janet Jackson, but implicit sexism is always welcome on television.

The game used to be a positive experience in my eyes. It’s a fun time for friends and family to cheer loudly for their favorite teams. For me, I enjoyed gossiping with the other people who don’t want to watch the game but who like the free Super Bowl food and fun parties.

Now, it seems that the Super Bowl is a reflection of our society’s failings and prejudices. I wish that I could laugh at intelligent commercials instead of cringing at sexist ads that objectify women and make men look like wide-eyed gawkers.

The cost of one Super Bowl ad: $2.5 million. The cost of American dignity: priceless.