~ If you live in the United States you would have to be living under the proverbial rock to not know that today is the Super Bowl. Perhaps the single greatest sign of the times when discussing culture in relation to the Western World, the Super Bowl embodies so much that intellectuals both love and hate about the West;
—) The Super Bowl reminds us of humanity’s long standing tradition regarding athletics going back to the ancient days of Greece and beyond
—) The Super Bowl, and American Football in general, represents the violence that permeates our culture. Unlike European sports such as Golf or Tennis, or other American sports like Baseball, American Football is violent. Retired players have shorter lifespans then the typical adult male or women due to the massive amount of head trauma they experience during their short but eventful careers.
—) The Super Bowl reminds us that the Western World is first and foremost consumeristic. Companies spend millions of dollars on 60 second commercial advertisements, betting on the consumeristic tendencies of Western People who, after seeing the advertisement, will purchase the product or service.
—) The Super Bowl reminds us that the Western World is obsessed with triviality. For the past two weeks, the lead story on many cable NEWS shows and radio NEWS shows was a story about the New England Patriots and the amount of air in their footballs.
—) The Super Bowl reminds us that the Western World has a limited appetite when it comes to depth of conversation. Millions of people (mostly men) watch trite and meaningless interviews of athletic players with phrases so redundant and stupid, I’m sure a 10 year old could do just as well; “Everyone is against us, nobody believed in us, but we believed in ourselves”, “Our back is up against the wall”, “We just got to play our game”, “We need to keep playing the way that got us here”.
All of these points and more, are not limited to the United States. Our friends across the pond do just as good a job at littering the airwaves with celebrity gossip, vapid conversations, and an overall obsession with consumerism that nearly equals the level of vigor with plastic nonsense displayed here in the U.S.
So where does it all leave us? I’m not entirely sure, but I do see a constant trend during my lifetime in which our culture moves away from meaningful tradition and beautiful art, to a traditionless generation of young adults who feel disconnected from their ancestors, and despite being connected to social networks every second of every waking day; they feel emotionally and physically disconnected from each other at greater levels than ever before in the annals of human history.
Reversing the trend in our society may be an impossible chore. Like Atlas, there may come a time when the standard holders who are still keeping the literary classics alive, the museums of art history operating, and the music of a dead generation barely beating, there may come time when these gallant intellectuals shrug, and the entire culture dissipates into one big colossal mass of plastic.
Mark Twain wrote on this topic of dying culture as a force of habit throughout his long and illustrious career. He mocked the people who made him famous, the people who bought his books, he laughed at their voracious appetite for triviality. In Huckleberry Finn, perhaps the greatest American novel, Twain details the nonsense of adults, the hypocrisy, inconsistencies and triviality which stains so much of their lives. Huck Finn, a rather uneducated individual, becomes the voice of reason in a world gone mad; a voice of reason in a world obsessed with the color of skin and the way someone looks, Huck Finn see’s that what really matters is the human heart.
A hundred years later and you and I still live in a culture that is inundated with how it looks. Matters of the heart, spirituality, and depth of intellect are pushed to the background in favor of the latest trends and meaningless fare. If you don’t believe then just consider for a moment that all these years later, women are still living under the oppressive force of a culture that demands they look a certain way.
Our culture spends more time arguing about the glass ceiling, the invisible barrier that is supposedly preventing women from earning the same amount as men in the work force. And while equality is definitely something I support, if we’re going to be honest; who cares if the glass ceiling is shattered or not, if women are still under the oppression of depression and stress thanks to our cultural attitude of making them feel ugly because they don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model? Who cares if women make more money now; because the rates of depression in women are higher than in men. What good is all the money if you hate yourself because you’ve been taught to think your hips are too big?
It would seem that the Super Bowl is merely another reminder of our culture gone mad. But then again, what do I know.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society