As I write this a million Egyptians are in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria demanding the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. He’s been a brutal dictator (to whom we give $1.5 billion a year) and was grooming his son, Gamal, to be his successor. Apparently Gamal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. (Sorry about that.)
Gamal recently took his family and fled to London and I have a feeling they’re not staying at a Motel 6. Hosni, he may be ruthless and sadistic, but at 82 and with cancer, he looks “marvelous.” Yet, by the time you read this Mubarak may have been frog marched out of office.
The Egyptian turmoil could have very serious ramifications in the Middle East, not to mention the Suez Canal and the supply of oil. (Our drug of choice.) During the protests there have been dozens of deaths and serious injuries. Reportedly, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was punched in the face 10 times. (I couldn’t help but think why not Bill O’Reilly.)
Back in the states, many people are very concerned, although about a slightly different matter. Apparently cold weather and blizzard conditions are making it difficult to get to the Super Bowl in Dallas, which will feature the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Egyptians are rioting over extreme poverty (many subsist on $2 a day) Super Bowl fans are paying upwards of $2,500 for a crummy seat in the end zone. If that’s too pricey, just outside the stadium, for $200 you can see the game on a giant Jumbotron. Whoopee!
In 1966, John Lennon said of the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus.” In the south the religious right staged the destruction of Beatle records using steamrollers. I’m reminded of this because, blasphemous as it sounds, one could say the Super Bowl is more popular than Christmas.
An expected, 100 million Americans will watch Super Bowl XLV (number 45 to you and me), whereas only 60 million went to church on Christmas. While this notion might be offensive to some, I can’t imagine anyone renting a steamroller to destroy my columns. On the other hand, using them to line a birdcage is a distinct possibility.
I’m not sure how it evolved, but Super Bowl Sunday now has the status of a national holiday. Families and friends gather to eat, drink and bond in front of TVs in homes, bars and Hooters all across the country.
As opposed to Christmas, the Super Bowl is celebrated with an added bonus, the wagering of enormous sums of money. It’s estimated $10 billion will be bet on the game, the biggest one day take in the entire year of gaming. (I like how they call it the “gaming industry.”) Yes, to Las Vegas the Super Bowl is better than Christmas and New Years combined.
As for food, it’s estimated that at Super Bowl parties nationwide more food will be consumed than any other day of the year except for Thanksgiving. Giving the poor turkeys a break, chicken wings might be considered the Super Bowl dish of choice. And plenty of beer!
Ironically, of the previous 44 Super Bowls, a majority have been on the dull side (last year’s New Orleans Saints vs. the Indianapolis Colts notwithstanding). The actual game is almost incidental. For many people, often women, the TV commercials make for the most compelling viewing. And get this, of the 100 million expected to tune in, at least 50 million will watch the commercials again online! For ad agencies the Super Bowl is their Oscars.
A 30-second commercial will cost $3 million and add to that, the approximately $8 million in production expenditures. The agencies with clients who can afford it gear up for the Super Bowl like no other event. And curiously, most ads which may have cost upwards of $11 million are rarely used again throughout the year. (Did I mention many Egyptians subsist on $2 a day?)
Another highlight of the afternoon/evening is the half-time musical entertainment. This year the featured artists are the Black Eyed Peas. In the past the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Prince and U2 have performed. I was at Super Bowl I at the L.A. Coliseum in 1967. As I recall the entertainment was a guy and girl in matching cheesy outfits twirling a baton and throwing it high in the air. Trust me, it was not exactly breathtaking.
This year, with the game at Jerry Jones’ spectacular stadium, “The Palace in Dallas,” the Super Bowl may break TV ratings records again. (Also the live attendance may be 105,000 breaking that record, as well.)
Back to the Middle East, if Egypt falls into the wrong hands it could destabilize the entire region. The whole world will be watching. And by that I mean, to see if it’s the Packers or Steelers who win the Super Bowl.
If Jack isn’t too busy flipping channels between the Super Bowl and the Egyptian revolution, he can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.