My Thoughts on the Super Bowl

My Thoughts on the Super Bowl February 3, 2014

I normally don’t care about the Super Bowl at all. In fact, I admittedly didn’t actually watch much of the game. My family had the game on, and I brushed my dog. Then, when everyone realized the game was a loss, we played cards. I did, however, try to catch a few of the commercials. While the game itself clearly deserves no comment on my part—I would have found it much more interesting if it were a close game—I do think there are three commercials that deserve my attention.

Before I get to the commercials though, I thought the halftime show was brilliant. Bruno Mars is a talented singer and performer. The show was entertaining, the Red Hot Chili Peppers did a great job, and their striking differences in style complemented each other well. They all looked to be having fun, something I think is important to see. The only thing I can really complain about, if you can call it that, is that I would have liked to hear the actual singing better. Otherwise, overall I think it was a great choice.

1. Coca-Cola – “It’s Beautiful”: I heard this one before I saw it, and recognized almost immediately that this was an important ad. Several thoughts and emotions were going through my head at the same time. First, “What a lovely commercial. Kudos Coke.” Second, “I’m really glad large companies like Coca-Cola are no longer ‘afraid’ to create commercials like this, let alone commercials that run during the Super Bowl.” Third, “That’s a more powerful statement made by Coca-Cola than simply ‘drink our drink!'” Fourth, “Bring on the sh*t storm.”

Sure enough, moments after the commercial aired, social media exploded with horrible comments about the song being sung in multiple languages (and the people featured on screen during the song). There are so many things that could be said about the people who wrote/spoke the comments, or about the state of our nation, or about the attitude of so many people. The only point I would like to make is that “America” does not mean simply a white, educated, English-speaking population. The reality is that this country is incredibly diverse, and that’s what makes it beautiful. I think it’s excellent that Coca-Cola recognizes this, and the more we see of large companies or important people pushing these views, the faster we will see attitudes change.

2. Cheerios – “Gracie”: This one I actually saw prior to the Super Bowl because it was already making waves as the second in a series featuring the same interracial family. The first video had so many negative, racist comments posted on it that the company had to disable the comments. Not only was the second ad just as cute as the first, but it also says quite a lot about the company. They were unwilling to allow the things being said about them and the “family” featured in the first ad to prevent them from using the same fictional family a second time. Another large and important step forward from another large and important company.

Someday, we’ll get to a point at which ads like these are no longer novel. The fact that they were aired during one of the largest television events all year is proof that if you want get a message across about something, go big or go home.

3. Doritos – Cowboy Kid: This one made me cringe, and literally yell out loud. As the “parent” of two large dogs, this commercial gave the completely wrong impression about big dogs and their relationship with children.

What this commercial did saddens me, and it shows the deep misunderstanding we have about dogs in our world. First of all, it sent the message to children between 4 and 7 (or so) that large dogs are “toys” and can be mounted like a horse. Second, it sent that same message to parents. This second point is important because adults are responsible not only for the safety and wellbeing of children, but also for the safety, comfort, and wellbeing of animals—especially pets. Though it may seem like large dogs—like the Mastiff shown in the commercial—should be able to hold a small child on their back, there are several problems with this if it is actually attempted.

a) Dogs are not built like horses, and even a large dog (in fact, especially a large dog) can be injured by having even a small child placed on his back. Injuries can happen to a dog holding perfectly still and having a child placed on its back, but more likely a dog not trained to have a child placed on its back is going to squirm or attempt to get away. This squirming can lead to dangerous situations for everyone, especially if an adult attempts to hold the unwilling dog still while placing a child on its back.

b) Since dogs are not built to have children put on their backs, and they know this, they will attempt to protect themselves in whatever way they feel is best. Dogs do not have opposable thumbs, nor do they have arms that they can use to push a child (or adult) away from them. Since all four paws are on the ground, their only means of protecting themselves is their teeth. A dog who chooses to snap at or actually bite a child attempting to get on his back is not in the wrong. However, this is likely to get a dog put down, or taken to a shelter.

c) Even if the dog knows enough not to bite or snap, the trust between the adult and the dog, or any trust built between the dog and the child, will be completely gone. A dog that can’t trust his humans can be a dangerous dog to those very same humans.

So there you have it… my thoughts on the Super Bowl [commercials]. Having lived briefly in Colorado, I’m a bit sad the Broncos didn’t at least put up a fight. However, since I was born and raised in Madison, WI, and since the UW-Madison is my Alma Mater, I was glad to see Russell Wilson and his Seahawks win. In all honestly though, I would have been happy and unaffected regardless of the outcome. Now if the Packers were in the game, it would be a different story entirely!

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