A football game of some import was played on Sunday, and lots of us watched it. But not as many as usual.
According to Sports Illustrated, about 98.2 million folks tuned in to CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl. That’s a whole bunch of people to be sure, but it’s actually the smallest audience the game has garnered in a decade. (Add in streaming figures, and the number creeps up to 100.7 million.) Blame Patriots fatigue, if you like. Blame the New Orleans Saints’ fans boycott of the game. (A missed call in the NFC Championship Game sent the Saints home, and one fan was so angry that he rented several billboards in Atlanta—home to Super Bowl LIII—to voice his displeasure.)
But you could also blame the game itself, too. Indeed, the Twitterazzi officially proclaimed the Big Game the Boring Game. “This is like watching ambien,” comedian Andy Cohen tweeted. Greg Gutfeld tried to look at the bright side, writing that “this is still a high scoring soccer game.” And ESPN’s David Fleming suspected a plot: “The NFL did this just to make Maroon 5 seem more entertaining.”
Maroon 5, which led the halftime activities, was on its heels from the get-go. With activists encouraging the band to drop out of the halftime show in support of National-Anthem-kneeler Colin Kaepernick, the pump was primed for some serious crit. Lead singer Adam Levine acknowledged as much beforehand: “When you look back on every single Super Bowl halftime show … it’s this like insatiable urge to hate a little bit,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m not in the right profession if I can’t handle a little bit of controversy.” But he might not have been prepared for the, um, passion expressed by critics. Levine responded to the haters gracefully, writing on Instagram, “We thank our fans for making our dreams possible. And we thank our critics for always pushing us to do better.”
As I wrote yesterday, the ads are the biggest draw for some Super Bowl viewers. But one commercial, sponsored by Kraft Heinz’s frozen food brand Devour, elicited plenty of winces, literal gags and outright guffaws. Why? It invoked porn addiction, which most viewers just didn’t find very funny. No matter, though: Kraft Heinz doubled down by running the ads, only “uncensored” this time, on a popular pornography website.
But the most interesting Super Bowl advertising trend? According to Wired, it might be Super Bowl ads that aren’t ads and aren’t aired during the Super Bowl. Case in point: Skittle’s “Super Bowl” ad, which was actually a one-night play that served as an “anti-consumerist allegory.” The play’s name? Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. It’s an extreme example of advertisers’ increasing reliance more on social media than on the Big Game. “Super Bowl strategy is no longer limited to television,” advertising exec Abbey Klaassen told Wired. “Or even necessarily includes it.”
With the Super Bowl over, many are turning their attention to American culture’s next big event: the Oscars. No, it still doesn’t have a host, and now the show’s producers say it doesn’t need one. But while the event may go host-less, it may be littered with … harnesses? Apparently, they’re the newest accoutrement on the red carpet these days, with such stars as Timothee Chalamet, Chadwick Boseman and, most recently, Michael B. Jordan sporting them.
Other stars this week were engaged in damage control. After telling The Independent that he wanted to “unleash physical violence” on a black man after a friend of his revealed she’d been raped decades ago, Liam Neeson clarified his remarks on Good Morning America. “I’m not a racist,” he said. Mariah Carey will be performing in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, and women’s rights advocates are not happy about it. Fellow songstress Ariana Grande simply wanted to commemorate her chart-topping song “7 Rings” in tattoo ink. But when she sent out a pic of the hand tattoo to her fans on Instagram, some quickly pointed out that the Japanese characters didn’t actually read “7 Rings,” but referred to a Japanese-style barbecue grill. (She fixed the error, but paid homage to the grill. “Miss you man,” she wrote.)
And while we’re on the subject of grills, let’s finish this edition of Culture Clips up in the kitchen.
Yesterday, I talked about an Amazon commercial that joked about Alexa’s invasion of home appliances (among other things). Samsung hopes to take the whole trend one step further—launching a dating app for its Family Hub Refrigerator.
Presumably, it’s not actually trying to gets its fridges to, um, chill together, but rather its owners. The app is called Refrigerdating, and will certainly appeal to all those for whom cold leftover pizza spurs romantic urges. Still, I’m skeptical. It seems like connecting through such an app would almost guarantee an icy reception, would it not?