I have never thought of the Super Bowl as a ritual; however, being a life-long football fan I have been glued to the TV on Super Sunday for as long as I can remember. I decided to take an objective look at something that I have viewed as one of the major plights of capitalism: mass consumerism. (Thankfully the Eagles weren’t playing or else I would have not been able to focus on anything but the extreme stress the game would have presented me with.)
I have always been slightly anti-consumer culture. Of course I indulge in a cell phone, laptop, etc., but compared to my peers I have always enjoyed face-to-face conversation as well as being outside away from electronics. Looking at my generation, I have frequently been faced with a sense of sadness over where culture is heading. This year, as I ordered five dominoes pizzas and forty wings and fired up the projector in my living room, I decided to put my focus on the positives of consumerism. The Super Bowl is the perfect time to do this because it is essentially a celebration of American consumerism, as the commercials are viewed as being almost as important as the game itself, unless of course your team is playing.
This year, two products dominated the commercials: cars and beer. Cars represent the height of American consumerism. Cars are the ultimate status symbol in the United States and considering how much money car companies are pouring into their advertisements, it is clear this trend is not going to change. Americans buy specific cars because they want to impress others. I don’t agree with this and I don’t think I ever will. A car does not determine the man/women. Beer commercials, on the other hand, are an interesting study. Drinking beer does not make one think immediately of consumer culture. But the way companies typically market their products make it clear the beer conglomerates think they are. For a while, beer was marketed against other beers. Beer companies wanted you to think that because you drank their beer you were better then other people. Either you are more American, of a higher class, or had better taste. I saw a shift from that approach in this year’s commercials and this shift has made me optimistic for our future.
The beer commercials focused on getting together with friends and enjoying a cold beverage. They weren’t bashing the other beer companies, they were simply saying enjoy our beer and you will better enjoy your time with your friends. While it can be debated if that is true, it is nice to see that Americans are beginning to value their time with each other. Instead of watching the game with your friends via Skype and texting, Americans want to get together and experience each other’s company. It is not about what beer choice indicates about you individually, it is about what the beer can do for people as a whole, ‘enjoy your time with friends better with our beer’, is much better then ‘drink our beer because your friends will think you are better than them’.