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Fri

19

Jan

2007

American Jingoism: The Patriot GameAmerican Jingoism: The Patriot Game
Friday, 19 January 2007 00:26
by Edward Strong

What could better reflect the collective psychosis of the American Empire than our mass obsession with the NFL, culminating in the Super Bowl?

Coming from the same fetid bogs of spiritual decay that spawned the American Way, the NFL reeks with the stench of corporate tyranny, patriarchy, racism, superficiality, greed, competitiveness, and materialism.

Be Happy!

Through it all Americans seem to be happy, or at least, oblivious. We strive to be happy, or at least, oblivious

The media, the advertisers, the sports-casters, the ministers and politicians and pundits all promote happiness, or oblivion.

It is a national past-time, being happy, or oblivious, even when, objectively, our make-believe world of rights and liberties and prosperity and moral piety is crashing all around us.

It's almost Super Bowl time. A time of communal myth, making merry and make-believe.

A supercilious nation watches the Super Bowl. It is the cathedral of our values. It is the metaphor for everything 21st Century America has come to stand for. How ironic. [1]

American Jingoism

Do you remember Budweiser's ad at last year's Super Bowl, where 'patriots' waved off 'our boys' to battle? Moving and powerful, or obscene war-mongering?

The "analysts" on Fox News awarded a Budweiser spot top prize in the annual four hour-plus Super Bowl adfest.

Nothing new there, the beer regularly spends the most and tries the hardest on Super Bowl night. But this was no ordinary beer commercial.

The simple ad depicts a group of American military personnel walking through an airport departure lounge.

As they proceed, the other passengers notice them and begin to applaud. Eventually the servicemen and women are given a standing ovation. A "super' (graphic) appears on the screen simply saying "thank you" from Anheuser Busch.

It was described as "moving" and "powerful" by the obsequious Fox critics, and "obscene" by my furious upstairs neighbour who called me straight after because he regarded the spot as incitement to war with Iran, and knows I write about such things and so it was of course my fault.

Pass the sick bag, Alice. I was too stunned by the spot to really take in the full import of a beer company waving off "our boys" (and girls) to battle. [2] Were you Brainwashed at the Super Bowl?

Before the game, former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush Senior strode out together in identical suits amid the fanfare of a military band and an air force fly-by.

The whole evening was a self-conscious celebration of all things American. As such, it provides a revealing glimpse of the American self-image.

What were they celebrating? The spread and defence of liberal democracy through military force, for one thing.

As part of the pre-match extravaganza, Michael Douglas asked the audience to thank 'the Greatest Generation' for its bravery in ensuring the survival of American democracy during World War Two.

National Football League (NFL) players recited sections of the Declaration of Independence. Troops in Iraq cheered via a satellite link.

For all the patriotism, the star of the show was undoubtedly capitalism. Adverts were everywhere. An American football game contains 60 minutes of play; it takes four hours to unfold.

This is because of the structure of the game, whereby every time one team loses the ball, both sides substitute all of their players - in other words, each team contains a defence and an attack, neither of which are on the pitch at the same time.

In practice this means that after every few minutes of action, there is an advert break, so at least as much time is spent watching adverts as watching the game.

Some people might resent this; the Americans love it. Two days before the game the Chicago Tribune previewed the adverts excitedly and even speculated on how they would go down with Monday morning's TV critics.

With 30 seconds of advertising costing $2.4million, 'the pressure is on advertisers [to] deliver ads that will be talked about at the water cooler Monday morning'. [3]

The Collective Psychosis

For about six precious months of the year, the National Football League delivers heavy doses of testosterone, blood, adrenaline, and alcohol.

Masculine fuel for its addicted minions. Through the grace of our corporate gods, a host of media innovations (including a network devoted to the NFL and painstakingly detailed year round analyses) have significantly diminished the agony of off-season withdrawal.

What could better reflect the collective psychosis of the American Empire than our mass obsession with the NFL?

Born through violent revolution, expanded by genocide, enriched by slavery, and elevated to hegemony through imperialism, militarism, and economic tyranny, the United States, like NFL football, embodies avaricious savagery masked by a fastidiously maintained illusion of benevolent civility.

Arising from the same fetid bogs of spiritual decay that spawned the American Way, the NFL reeks with the stench of corporate tyranny, patriarchy, racism, superficiality, greed, competitiveness, and materialism.

Like the Roman Emperors, our corporate overlords provide their loyal subjects, with bread et circuses.

It's worth noting that in a few weeks, about 125 million of the Empire’s citizens will settle in for a day of hedonistic pleasure.

Hallmark Cards calculated that the Super Bowl surpasses New Year’s Eve as the biggest party day of the year.

US Americans consume more food on “Super Sunday” than any day except Thanksgiving. Super Bowl celebrants will engorge themselves with about 15,000 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn.

Meanwhile, 35,000 human beings will die of starvation and our government will continue pouring half of our tax dollars into the murder machine they euphemistically refer to as the Department of “Defense”. [4]

A Final Word from the Arch-Capitalist Ayn Rand Institute

Successful CEOs are as indispensable to their companies as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are to their teams.

As millions of Americans watched the Seattle Seahawks take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, every minute of the game was scrutinized, with slow-motion replays and a torrent of statistics.

But, amid the cheers and groans, don’t expect to hear complaints from fans about the players' multi-million dollar salaries.

Fans know just what the players had to accomplish to reach the Super Bowl and recognize that the players have earned their pay, that the MVPs [Most Valuable Professionals!] are indispensable to their teams, and that it is morally proper to reward achievement.

Yet MVPs of the business world are not admired for their achievements, but reviled as overpaid fat cats.

Many people are indignant about CEOs collecting pay packages worth upwards of $230 million a year and enjoying perks like corporate jets for personal use. Astonished to learn that what an average worker earns in a year, some CEOs earn in less than a week--people ask themselves:

"How can the work of a corporate paper-pusher be worth so many millions of dollars?"

The answer is that successful CEOs are as indispensable to their companies as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are to their teams. They earn their rewards. [5]

[1] Zbignew Zingh
[2] Stefano Hatfield
[3] Jonny Thakkar
[4] Jason Miller
[5] Ayn Rand Institute
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