For anyone who isn't planning to be stoned into catatonia -- and even those Super Bowl-watchers who are -- the brief flash of lights, song, and dance set to take place in the middle of this Sunday's carnival of beefcake brutality promises to show off some of the American pop landscape's merest dreck.
Last year America's most-watched musical event of the year got Beyoncé, reigning queen; this year we get Bruno Mars, an aspiring jester from the next township over who thinks it's cool to always look like he just got off a plane from Miami. (It may at least provide for some comedy when he attempts to perform in the frigid air of a New Jersey February.)
Oh, and we also have the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who'll be confirming their status as America's youngest classic rock band by playing Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is America, where the biggest thing on the tube is young men brutalizing each other into vegetative states over a sack of leather, interrupted by a milquetoast wannabe Michael Jackson known mainly for his boyish, vaguely exotic good looks, and a rock band that ran out of ideas a decade and a half ago. (We know Bruno Mars has poses and hairstyles, but does he have songs? Can you name one?)
That the Chili Peppers are playing is merely a bid to keep your dad from changing the channel between Bud Light advertisements. It may work, the way Chili Peppers efforts often kinda sorta work. But what a sad expectation mere functioning is when you have the attention of the whole -- admittedly beery, carb-coma'd, and largely stoned -- country. It's as if the NFL has decided to find the absolute floor of Americans' interest in football by boring to tears the more culture-inclined watchers, too.
Often the best things about the Super Bowl, at least for those of us with no stake in either team, are the advertisements and the halftime show. With Mars and the Chili Peppers set to perform midway through a contest that has already inspired record disinterest, we should all hope that the ad folks are at the top of their game.