Column: Super Bowl or Subpar Bowl?

Alex Rajakovich, Guest Columnist

On Sunday, Feb. 3, the New England Patriots took on and defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

Perhaps the lackluster nature of the game can only be fully conveyed by its equally disappointing statistics: it received the lowest overnight TV ratings of a Super Bowl in ten years, the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history (13-3), and its’ halftime show, performed by pop-rock band Maroon 5 and rap artists Travis Scott and Big Boi, was poorly received by viewers across the nation.

For many, the night was met with an overall feeling of “meh.”

The event began with soulful renditions of The National Anthem by the “Empress of Soul,” Gladys Knight, and America the Beautiful by Atlanta sister-duo, Chloe and Halle, but then quickly devolved into a series of uneventful downs brought about by many different variables.

For example, the Patriots’ secondary played well and succeeded in shutting down the Rams’ Jared Goff, who, as a young quarterback, isn’t as experienced in high-pressure situations.

In addition to a strong defensive showing, the Patriots’ offense suffered slightly with what seemed to be a tired performance by their star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who, according to NBC Sports, could “barely walk” on his way to their party after the game.

A factor that contributed to the low-scoring game on the side of Los Angeles was that their running back, Todd Gurley, incurred a small injury early in the game, shaking him up and resulting in a subpar execution for the rest of the night.

Despite the relatively uninspiring football game, millions of Americans jokingly admit to having watched the Super Bowl “just for the commercials.”

According to CNBC, CBS charged a record $5.25 million for a 30-second spot, and many of these time slots, it’s worth noting, were filled with celebrities and a common theme of nostalgia.

One of the most talked about commercials was a Stella Artois ad featuring Sarah Jessica Parker in her iconic role of Carrie Bradshaw from the popular early 2000s series, Sex and the City, joined by The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 Coen brothers movie The Big Lebowski.

The scene featured the two characters walking into a swanky bar and declining their signature drinks, a Cosmopolitan and a White Russian, respectively, replacing them with glasses of Stella. In a Frito-Lays commercial, Chance the Rapper explained their new product, “Flamin’ Hot Doritos” while the Backstreet Boys danced behind him to their 1999 hit, “I Want It That Way.”

Other companies used the same strategy, both this year and in years past, and “Vox” explains that the intent of the use of nostalgia is to have the audience either draw on personal, lived experience, or to “draw on an abstract yearning for generalizations of the past,” appealing to the many demographics of viewers for this game.

Finally, the halftime show, cursed with a build-up marred by controversy and stars, including Rihanna according to “The Telegraph, who turned down the gig to show support for Colin Kaepernick, was less than stellar. Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, put on a stellar vocal performance of some of the band’s hits such as “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Sugar” and was then joined by the talented and energetic rappers, Travis Scott and Big Boi.

These performers were all fine, but given that they had been offered one of the biggest platforms a musician could have, as well as the fact that they were performing following years of daunting and expectation-exceeding shows executed by legends such as Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and more, many felt (and took to social media to express these feelings) that this year’s choices fell short of the standard that has been set by the artists that have come before them.

Whether fans were pleased or disappointed by the event as a whole, all remain hopeful that next year’s Super Bowl will provide a more overall dynamic and stimulating experience as well as hopeful for their respective teams in the coming season, starting in less than eight months on Sept. 5.