Clint Eastwood, digitus impudicus, oh my!

| For the first time since 1999, the usual suspects did not assemble for the SuperBowl. We were going to make a pilgrimmage to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada and combine the SuperBowl with the aurora borealis. It would have been a bi-national event of sorts. Inconveniently, SuperBowl weekend was also the full moon, not an auspicious time for viewing the celestial lightshow, so the decision was made to do the aurora thing in January and forego the traditional SuperBowl party. And as things worked out, I was unable to make the trip due to a small oversight on my part, allowing my passport to expire unbeknownst. Damn those terrorists! Before 9/11/2001 you could cross the Canada/US border with a smile and a drivers license.

But that's all the back story. This is how an event that is practically a required holiday turned out to be so contentious this year.

The halftime show once again generated a big kerfuffle. Which is too bad, since Madonna's show was the stimulus program the Repugnicans have been blocking all this time. There was a cast of thousands (well, at least hundreds) and the staging was positively epic. I've not seen anything about the cost of the spectacle, but it surely wasn't small.

The stage, in one of its many looks

While there were no wardrobe malfunctions allowing a breast to be exposed, there was a raised middle finger by singer M.I.A.

Digitus impudicus

Oh, the scandal! How dare she expose the sensibilities of right-thinking American and international viewers to an unpixilated center digit! I'm sure there are three toddlers in the country who did not know the significance of the middle finger, but who are now desperate to learn of it, seeing as how the image has been pixilated and shown over and over and over again.

As a public service, I will now reveal that raising the middle finger as an insult is a venerable tradition dating back to the days of the Greeks and Romans (Slate has the history). Rather than raising a stink, conservatives should be celebrating that part of our heritage has survived from these seminal civilizations. After all, this is where we got "democracy" and the rule of empires. Of course, the Greeks played sports in the nude, so maybe that is tempering the enthusiasm of the modern-day Puritans, prigs and prudes.

And everybody's apologizing: NBC's apologizing because they failed to blur the finger before it went out over the air; the National Football League is apologizing that their half-time show was sullied by vulgarity. These are the same people who run a sport so violent that it breaks the bodies and addles the brains of its players and whose fans roar with delight at every thundering collision. C'mon, people, get a grip.

Poor Madonna, upstaged by her own special guest. However, we have here another example of the free market at work, because today there are certainly millions of people who now know who M.I.A. is who were ignorant just 2 days ago.

Halftime in America

And then there is the Chrysler commercial "Halftime in America" starring Clint Eastwood. This 2-minute ad (two minutes, at SuperBowl prices?!) packs a terrific punch: a genuine star, compelling narrative, stunning and gritty cinematography, a positive and uplifting message. Just the kind of family entertainment the conservatives are always telling Hollywood to make. How could you disagree with the idea of getting back up after you've been knocked down, with coming together to solve a big problem, with encouraging others to follow an example of success?

Clint Eastwood

Well it's apparently quite easy to disagree with those things. Karl Rove, the brains behind George Bush who got us into this mess, was "offended" by the spot. "This is a sign of what happens," Rove said, "when you have the government getting in bed with big business like the bailout of the auto companies." Now this is rich, coming from a flak for the Repugnican party that cannot do enough to better the fortunes of big business and the wealthy, that will do anything, including impede the economic recovery, just to defeat President Obama. And it conveniently ignores the fact that it was George W Bush who wrote the first check to Chrysler in the amount of $4 billion dollars, 18 days before Obama even took office!

It seems preposterous that anyone would want to pick a fight with Clint "Make my day" Eastwood, but that's not stopping the right. Even though Eastwood was considered by George HW Bush as his running mate, even though Eastwood made public statements against the rescue of the auto industry, even though he can't remember ever voting for a Democratic presidential candidate, he's being bombarded with criticism for his part in the commercial.

Even the wife of losing quarterback Tom Brady got in trouble for her rejoinder to a fan, "My husband cannot [expletive] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time." And now she is accused of violating a team "rule" that when you lose you don't critize your teammates. Last time I noticed during the game, Giselle is not on the team.

Obviously people need to get more compelling hobbies. All this angst over things that are trivial in "the grand scheme of things" is simply not good for mental or physical health.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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