Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beyonce's Show

I suppose that I should begin this post with a warning. You are about to enter an “old fuddy-duddy zone”. Watching Beyonce’s halftime show the other night made me feel every day of my 54 years and then some. It was a twenty minute blitzkrieg on the senses that left me exhausted and bewildered.

This woman has an incredible voice, but she is no singer. She is an exhibition, an object of fantasy. Within the first two minutes, she tore off the wrapping paper of her outfit and flung it into the crowd, and performed the rest of her show dressed like a Victoria’s Secret mannequin. Amidst dazzling pyrotechnics and pulsing video images, she showed 108 million viewers more athletic ability than Joe Flacco ever dreamed of having. Her dance moves were pure eroticism. She gyrated and hip-thrusted across the stage like a Las Vegas showgirl on steroids. What actual singing she did seemed beside the point, a mere accessory to her sexual objectification. When it was all over I wasn’t quite sure what I had seen. It certainly wasn’t a vocal performance, more like an X-rated jazzercise workout. I certainly had gotten a workout. I suppose after several years of worn out rockers like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, the Super Bowl people felt that some youth, energy and vitality needed to be injected into the proceedings. Mission accomplished.

The Super Bowl has become the image America projects once a year to the world, and each year it gets bigger, louder and more aggressive. It’s an all out assault of glitz, an extravaganza of frenzied energy. The world would be forgiven for thinking that America may very well have lost it’s mind. Is this who we are? The numbers say yes.

In the middle of it all came the voice of Paul Harvey, a recording of a speech he made in 1978 to a meeting of the Future Farmers of America. My television was treated to two minutes of still photographs, showing that most unglamorous thing, hard, back-breaking, solitary work. There were no swelling violins, no music of any kind, just silent images of the country we used to be before the Super Bowl, quiet, steady and decent. Harvey’s words sounded like poetry to me.

Next year it will be even bigger, bolder, louder. The technology will be cutting edge, the envelope will once again be pushed. Maybe Justin Bieber will do the halftime show. He might rip off his shirt. Can’t wait.