Movie Monday! Super Bowl XLV: Damage Control

Oh yeah. I went there.

If you’ve been reading this for any amount of time (or you can just read my last two posts on the subject), you’ll know that I’ve been very, very unimpressed with the ol’ AFL/NFL Championship Game as of late. In fact, I’ve pretty much been spiteful of every game since 2002, when it started to seem more like the game was being seen as a marketing tool than as an athletic contest. It could even go back to 2000, when grocery-boy Kurt Warner became MVP in a move that sounded like it was rejected from a straight-to-video Disney flop starring French Stewart. Perhaps I’m just growing up, or burning down, or getting even more cynical than I already was (and that’s saying something coming from a guy who rocked out to Barry McGwire when he was eight), but I think I know the true cause for my growing Super Bowl blandness:

Professional Wrestling.

Again, any of you who know me know I just can’t stay away from the stuff like I can’t stay away from any Hardee’s I might see driving down the road. From my early days as a Hulkamaniac to my budding appreciation for the workrate of the luchadores to the absolutely crushing loss of Guerrero and Benoit, I just can’t seem to stop watching, or at least paying attention to, the squared circle. There’s just something addictive (not addicting, you morons) and beautiful about the perfectly executed, stage combat art form of it all. Watching Bret Hart, or Chris Benoit, or Bryan Danielson, or even Johnny Saint if you can find it (and you really should) is like seeing a beautiful moving painting. Say what you will about movie fight choreography, but they can always do another take. These guys are live, and if something goes bahookie, they have to deal with it. I’d like to see Improv Everywhere or ComedySportz start beating the tar out of each other, and make it look convincing. In fact, given some of the people I’ve met that were “improv-ers,” I’d love to see them try to work with Stan Hansen or Big Van Vader sometime.
Anyway, I love pro wrestling. I’ve given serious consideration to finding a school in my area and training a bit. I read the dirt sheets, I catch the independent reaction shows, and I follow the sport… but I barely watch it. I love hearing about it, but after seeing it ruin so many good lives, I feel like I have trouble supporting it. Still, that doesn’t stop me from applying wrestling terms and ideas to my everyday life and one day dreaming of hauling my acrofatic butt to the top rope and attempting Shooting Star Press. But, this causes problems for an already admittedly paranoid individual like myself. If wrestling is predetermined (spoiler: it is), and people bought kayfabe for decades and thought it was real… who’s to say the same won’t happen with other sports, or maybe already has? There was just something about the Kurt Warner story that strained credulity to me. It wasn’t until he struggled in vain against the thuggish Steelers and lost that I figured he was probably a legit good, hardworking guy. But there are other times you just have to scratch your head and go… maybe they could have planned that.

And so, another bloated, lumbering commercialized mass of a celebration has rolled through the American consciousness like that monstrosity in Akira, leaving us with humorous commercials, lackluster halftime shows, butchered national anthems… oh, and there was a football game, too. Once again, the outcome of the game just seems to raise a few red flags with me but, as I said before, I’m probably one tinfoil hat short of a full-on paranoid episode. Much like Warner’s Disneyesque triumph (aired on ABC, a Disney affiliate), or the jingoistic, saccharine overload of the Patriots winning in the wake of 9/11, or the individual (and never conflicting) triumphs of the Manning boys, who proved just a bit shy of perfectly marketable, it seems like the game is almost as much about the merchandising that will follow it than it is about punting pig bladders. The absolute nadir of schlock would have to have been last year, when Katie Couric put on her best “heartfelt/constipation” face and talked to Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints in a pre-game retrospective tailor-flippin-made to tug at your heartstrings and beat the cadence of tabloid-turned-mainstream not-news. Really, did ANYONE think the Saints were not going to win that thing? The PR boons of winning the big one, especially after coming up short the year after Katrina (and painting my Bears as the bad guys, you jerks), would have moistened tears and laps nationwide and given America that false confidence we love to feel so much because it doesn’t actually require any work or deep thought. Yeah, America rules because a ravaged city won a football game. Hoo-bloody-rah.
But let’s not forget the teams painted with the villain brush, as well. Every smart mark like me knows that you need to have a heel win sometimes to give the face a credible challenge. Enter teams like Philadelphia or Chicago or Pittsburgh, teams from the gritty blue-collar underbelly of America who have reputations for playing tough, hard-nosed football and standing in the way of our shining placekicking paladins in their pursuit for truth, justice, a buttload of money and a big shiny football on a stick. To be honest, I can’t even remember who the Saints played last year because, once again, everyone knew in the pit of their hearts that the NFL wouldn’t squander that sacred goodwill cow by letting the plucky “Ain’t’s” lose the game. Still, you do have years where accused stabber Ray Lewis gets all the glory, one twirly moustache short of being depicted as a movie serial villain. Oh, and I just read that the Saints beat the Colts, probably as a punishment to Mr. “Aw, shucks” Peyton Manning for not selling enough Oreos or Wheaties. Like I said, watching pro wrestling gets to ya!

It’s a shoot, brother!

So now, arduously, we’ve come to just this last bout. You may be wondering, if you’re still reading this, why I chose to do this as a Movie Monday. Well, this year’s Super Bowl reminded me of a movie or, more importantly, a sequel. More importantly still, a sequel where a character is cruelly killed off and forgotten completely because the actor demanded one too many olives in his on-the-set tapenade or something. What always makes this more ridiculous in movies (and especially in wrestling) is how people will often just forget that person exists completely: no more mentions of exploits or good times, or even bad times. The person just disappears and is never brought up again so the movie can focus on the new heroes or the supporting characters that were thrust into the hero spotlight because Dan Actorman said something nasty about the director’s wife last year. Sometimes, it’s called Damage Control, and to me, that’s what Super Bowl XLV was: Damage Control. Remember that near-messianic quarterback that was beloved by everyone in Wisconsin except five people and was considered the greatest thing that ever happened ever forever ever? Remember when that beloved QB went and played for another team after a rather messy breakup, prompting many fans to convert like the Muslim schism had just happened? Remember then, when that QB came back and played for a RIVAL team? One state over? And remember when he got in trouble for flirting with some chick and wiggling his expletive deleted in a text message? Remember when that man who was once a pigskin chucking demigod was completely destroyed by the very people that had adored him?
Not anymore, you don’t. ALL HAIL AARON RODGERS.
This is particularly frustrating for me because I was one of the five people saying that Brett Favre was a joke way back when. Packer fans are, well… they’re kind of stupid. Well, not stupid, more like zealots. They simply cannot see another way. Even during the Majkowski when the Packers sucked almost as much as the Bears did, you’d have people proudly proclaiming that they were the best team in the league. The liquor that seems to be distilled from being the only publicly owned team in the NFL must be a potent and bewildering one, because Packer fans live most of their lives in outright denial. Now, with this Super Bowl, the denial is complete, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all the books in Lambeau now have Aaron Rodgers’ name scribbled over the top of another’s in red crayon. You may dismiss this as sour grapes from a rival fan, and rightfully so, but like any true cynic, I don’t go into a fight like this without evidence. If it pleases, Exhibit A.

This is a clip from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 from 1997, the same year the Packers won the Super Bowl under He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Favred. You’ll notice that the scenes are those of mass hysteria, destruction, and mob mentality, and the three hosts of the show are lampooning the scenes of a Giant Spider Invasion by mockingly yelling out “PACKERS WON THE SUPER BOWWWWL!” over the top of it, along with a reference to drunken mob violence. At the worst, this is a deliciously mean-spirited jibe (as the movie was based in Wisconsin), and at the best it is a light-hearted jibe from a Minnesotan who may even be a Packer Backer, but can at least poke a little fun. The rub, however, is found in the YouTube comments, where you will never find a more wretched hive of ┬áscum and bad spelling. You see, Packer fans are so blinded by their faith to this Pagan God of Acme that they see a jibe as a reason to celebrate and be proud. The comments are littered with people echoing the snarky sentiments of the hosts and being proud to be said mob-minded idiots. Basically, hundreds of Packer fans can’t fathom the mockery because they are too busy being proud. I’m pretty sure most major religions would have something to say about ┬áthat, but in the cult of Lombardi, it’s A-OK.Exhibit B came in a local magazine I picked up the week after the game. Naturally, being right on the border, all the local businesses were taking ad space to sing the praises of the “hometown” team. One in particular had a small picture of the Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler in the corner, reading “worthy effort by Jay Cutler.” I was honestly taken aback. As a Bear fan growing up in the middle of Packer country, I was used to Packer fans being the jingoistic dog turds they usually are, and never praising or even acknowledging the work of a worthy opponent, or even an unworthy one. In short, they are playground bully who is all too content to rub your face in the dirt even after your leg is broken. They just don’t care. But here, here was some actual compassion coming from the Green Bay faithful, and for a storied rival, no less! I was honestly touched, I was amazed, my opinion for the whole nation was beginning to turn around… but then I read it a little closer:
“Worthy Effort by Jay QUITler.”

You worthless worms.

TL;DR? The Super Bowl is boring and possibly rigged, the Green Bay Packers have the worst fans in Pro Football, pro wrestling is awesome, and Brett Favre has been, is, and will always be an absolute ponce.

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