Superbowl Rewind

Monday, February 08, 2010

Superbowl ads are always provocative. Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for The Takeaway and, offers her perspective on the ads during yesterday's Superbowl.

Dodge Charger Ad

Focus on the Family's Controversial Ad's Rejected Ad


Mary Elizabeth Williams

Comments [63]

Colin from Williamsburg, Brooklyn(40 year resident)

your guest just doesn't get it and doesn't care to getit . As aprogressive i hate when other progressives are mocking and dismissive of other forms of American Culture. That is why our politics don't fly in other parts of the country other than the coasts and Chicago.

Your guest kept calling the Charger the Caravan when the ad clearly said Charger!! They both have four tires and have gasoline engines and made by Chrysler but that all they have in common.

And yes the patriarchy on top is still run by old rich white men but at the bottom and middle things are changing and not all for the better. As a father of 11 year daughter I am very concerned that most of our colleges are 60% populated by women. What kind of man will my daughter will partner with??

Feb. 09 2010 02:39 AM
Mike from Inwood

Leave it to Brian Lehrer to find a cultural critic more annoying than the commercials aired during the Superbowl.

Feb. 09 2010 01:47 AM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

i'm too wimpy to ever watch Superbowls.

but, does every tv show have to carry the same commercials as, say, "Desperate Housewives"?

Feb. 08 2010 11:18 PM

Safety tip -- the "takeaway" stinks -- KEEP AWAY from anything to do with that smoldering pile -- your lame overly opinionated, misinformed guest is further proof.

Feb. 08 2010 02:24 PM
Barb from Montclair

did anybody else notice how many ads there were for CBS TV shows? Seemed like much more than previous years. Could CBS not sell all the ad time? Do they charge themselves?

Feb. 08 2010 01:55 PM
Dock Drumming from New York

I wonder why the Focus on the Family ad was so controversial. It was SO tame. I wonder if those who said they would not watch the Superbowl because of it now feel silly.

Feb. 08 2010 12:12 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

steven paul mark - television writing is dominated by men, so blame them:

Feb. 08 2010 12:11 PM
charlie kruger from harrington park nj

for Patrick in comment 52: Perhaps when Focus on the Family devotes at least part of its efforts to end capital punishment, infant mortality, starvation and poverty we can start calling them Pro-Life. Right now they really are just anti-abortion.

Feb. 08 2010 12:10 PM
Jambalaya NYC from NY-NOLA

RE Brian saying that they didn't mention Katrina enough in the Superbowl: I'm glad they didn't mention it more. New Orleans will never forget Katrina... It will always be a part of this generation's identity, but it's not ALL of it. Every significant New Orleans event from here on does not have to share the spotlight with Katrina. Let us be winners in this moment... let us not be consumed for one moment of how were once victims...

Feb. 08 2010 12:06 PM
Andy from Brooklyn

Advertisers aren't only in the business of responding to cultural trends, they're also engaged in a perpetual attempt to shape the context in which products exist.

They celebrate dumb crassness because they want us to be dumb and crass.

Dumb and crass is easy to sell to.

And judging by the overwhelmingly shrill lack of creativity in the ads, it's all they can come up with.

Feb. 08 2010 12:03 PM
ep from nyc

the super bowl ad's were just plain lame,and very forgettable! madison ave.'s best and brightest??
the who were even lamer!! Being an old time fan I found myself embarrassed for them!
lastly the overall coverage of the game & the moment, by ch.2 was a bid dud!

Feb. 08 2010 12:02 PM
Patrick Batchelder from Newark

Brian -

Why do you use "anti-abortion" rather than "pro-life?" Do you use "pro-abortion" rather than "choice?"

Feb. 08 2010 12:02 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

agilkat--the ad industry is dominated by men, so you can blame them for creating those ads that supposedly demean men. you say you'd rather be a sex object, but who in (real) power would make you one? the dye has been long set.

Feb. 08 2010 12:01 PM
Alexandra Atkins from Brooklyn

Your guest misses the point on the problem with the Tebow ad. I believe in free speech too but CBS practiced censorship by refusing to air other "advocacy" ads but allowing the Tebow one. Clearly it's not enough to have the money to pay for the ad. You also must have a message that the network agrees with. That is a huge problem and terribly hypocritical of CBS. I'm so tired of people trying to make it about the merits (or lack thereof) of the Tebow ad.

Feb. 08 2010 12:01 PM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Maybe this is why I'm getting disenchanted with The Takeaway. This "cultural critic" should really be called a cultural "relativist" or maybe "whateverist" This discussion is idiotic. The goal of an ad is to sell a product. Period. The End. I guess to do so there's no limit to what women will be smeared with in the name of lame humor. Or anything else that enters the pea brains of the people who make these. And it's OK! Perky perky chirpy chirpy. OK??

Feb. 08 2010 12:01 PM
charlie kruger from harrington park nj

I find it strangely poetic that your guest is complaining about the anger of men for their perceived emasculation, yet she subconsciously turns a muscle car like the Charger into the tamed suburban minivan the Caravan. Did she just disprove her entire thesis?

Feb. 08 2010 11:59 AM
eric from jersey city

There seemed to be A LOT of commercials for websites. Is that a new trend?

Feb. 08 2010 11:59 AM
D from Englewood

I resent American men being portrayed by beer commercials as shallow. I am not shallow. I also enjoy ultimate fighting, professional bass fishing and girls gone wild

Feb. 08 2010 11:59 AM
austin from midtown east

nobody's mention the simple brilliance of the goolge ad.

Feb. 08 2010 11:58 AM

The Dodge ad is indicative of the trend (since the 70s) that men's natural state is adolescence. How difficult it must be to do the recycling, put your laundry in the right place (not to mention do it), or carry lip balm.

Feb. 08 2010 11:58 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

to commenter in 9: the pepsi refresh campaign is not that refreshing--it's yet another corporate brand (chase community giving, anyone?) that forces consumers to give up their contact data, and that of their friends on social networking site like facebook in exchange for their vote for an org as being deserving of the "millions" being dangled by pepsico. transportation alternatives has entered this mis-guided contest. why can't pepsico and chase give funds to non-profits from the goodness in their (corporate) hearts, rather than making it a hobson's choice on the part of consumers?

Feb. 08 2010 11:58 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

What about the Google ad? Do they now need to advertise? Does this relate to their China position?

Feb. 08 2010 11:57 AM
Amparo from Brooklyn

I guess they didn't fully vent their hostility at the tea parties.

Feb. 08 2010 11:57 AM
karen from brooklyn

Loved the Superbowl! I agree with the guest. Even my husband commented them. The issue for me was that there were SO many of them that had a "women oppress us" attitude (seems like every one) was weird. Also, it just made me wonder what kind of relationships the ad execs have with their partners. And, they weren't that good/clever/unique. British ads are soo much better.

Feb. 08 2010 11:57 AM
Stephanie from Westchester

What struck me about the commercials last night was the number of them featuring men in their underwear. Not just emasculated, but vulnerable in the most primal way -- undressed, with the most flimsy "coat of armor" possible. Is this a statement to sports-loving men that the modern-day man isn't quite so strong and tough?

Feb. 08 2010 11:56 AM
Marsha from New York City

It was hard to believe there was a game! There were sooooo many commercials that we kept changing the channel and when we'd return it was yet another commercial!!!!!!!! Waaay too many!

Feb. 08 2010 11:56 AM
john from office

Brian loves the Gay stuff!!

Feb. 08 2010 11:56 AM
Who's emasculated? from nj

Wished I could have watched the Superbowl.

My wife declared it family Monopoly night and I dared not contradict.

Feb. 08 2010 11:56 AM
Sarah from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Ladies, let's have a sense of humor -- but also feel free to vote with your wallet (the only vote that really matters anymore). I will

Feb. 08 2010 11:55 AM
Gibson from Nothing Better

I think this reporter does not get this market at all. She is trying to make mountains out of mole hills. This is a waste of our listening time.

Feb. 08 2010 11:54 AM
hjs from 11211

men don't need women to immaculate them while men are following the metrosexual path

Feb. 08 2010 11:54 AM
scott from Yonkers

What do you expect from viewers who enjoy watching a group of men pummel each other into dementia.

Feb. 08 2010 11:54 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

another whiner saying women are emasculating men. his rationale? we're supposedly making more than men.

color me another woman grateful that there's enough testosterone in our house such that neither my husband or I are the least bit interested in the superbowl.

Feb. 08 2010 11:52 AM
Sam from NYC

I would hate to live in a world where society mobilizes itself only when a shipment of Budweiser has been compromised and then physically lays itself down beneath an 18 wheeler to save the day.

Feb. 08 2010 11:51 AM

This is just silly. I don't like commercials and commercialism, but Brian & guest are playing real dumb: these ads are *very obviously and blatantly* SATIRICAL.

There's lots of valid criticisms to make of commercial culture, but you get to exactly none of them when you pretend everyone is some kind of fool with a low 50's IQ. How about something a little more in-depth and serious?

Feb. 08 2010 11:51 AM
John from Bergen County NJ

Great Game: Who'd a Thunk it?
The Who was GOOD!
Top 3 Commercials: Beaver plays Violin.
Leno Winfry Letterman
Kia Sorrento -

Most uncomfortable ad: casual Fridays - Under wear day YUCCK!

Bad Ad: DOritos Anit Barking DOg Collar. Do they exist? The Horror!

Feb. 08 2010 11:51 AM
Diane from Somerset, NJ

My favorite was the house made of Bud Light - and the guy who says "You have Bud Light in a refridgerator MADE of Bud Light." Bud Light as post-modern art.

Feb. 08 2010 11:51 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The Who was disappointing? You mean you expected more?

I stopped watching all the crapola of the superhype shows (of all stripes) decades ago.

Especially the halftime show.

And if Daltry isn't aging as well as Jagger -- how could anyone look worse? Jagger looks like he died about 20 years ago.

Feb. 08 2010 11:50 AM
Aaron from Brooklyn

Caravan! Than would be emasculating.
Brian, you don't remember the Roseanne crotch grabbing spitting anthem singing?

Feb. 08 2010 11:50 AM
kris from greenpoint

funny enough... my girlfriend actually did drag me out earlier in the day to buy and install curtains... i'm completely convinced it was an attempt to have me miss the superbowl... i was firtunate enough to get everything done before kick off

Feb. 08 2010 11:49 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

Oh, Brian, I beg to differ - Roger has aged soooo much better than Mick - that's what clean living will do for you.

Feb. 08 2010 11:49 AM
sarah from Queens

After the Dodge CHarger ad, all the men in the room said, "Well, I guess I won't be buying the douche-bag car."

And after the book club ad, everyone groaned. But I said, "No, it's funny. Guys are stupid, get it?" I got some laughs.

Feb. 08 2010 11:49 AM
Steven Paul Mark from United States

Get a life Mary. Dn't blame Dodge, blame idiot TV series like Two and a half Men, Men of a Certain Age, etc. that constantly portray men as bumbling fools, unhappy middle aged and clueless in the face of attractive women.

Feb. 08 2010 11:49 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

Some of these ads, like the Dodge ad, could be done in humor, no? Is necessarily an 'angry' ad?

Feb. 08 2010 11:48 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

I believe this was the most well played Super Bowl that I can remember. 2 excellent performances by the 2 best quarterbacks in the NFL. Great defensive plays. Good pace. Few mistakes. Few incomplete passes. Few times out. Only 1 challenge. Only 1 interception. No huddle by the Colts. No endless replays. Great flow. I can't complain except there is too much attention to ads.

Feb. 08 2010 11:48 AM
Diana from Bronx

The ads were sooo disappointing. I'm a 55 year old female, love football, prefer beer to wine. I watched with my 17 year old daughter. Every ad seemed pitched at a still-single 30-something middle-class guy working in corporate middle management. Maybe advertisers figured out that those are the only people who are watching the Super Bowl alone without anyone to talk to and who won't be using the ad breaks to discuss the plays, check on the food, be social, etc, etc? Do I have to boycott Bud now?

Feb. 08 2010 11:48 AM
dude from

Actually, Dodge Chargers are cool. In fact when I saw that car (actually several neighbors got them) I thought, US automakers are back! As MB/11 points out, Chargers are muscle cars, not vans. I liked that ad.

Feb. 08 2010 11:48 AM
k from putnam

I think men are feeling threatened, particularly white men. Refer back to the "Why Boys Fail" book from last week. Your commenter's mocking tone just shows how much she doesn't get it.

p.s. I'm a mom, not a guy.

Feb. 08 2010 11:47 AM
A. Listener

it's not that men are angry, it's that your guest has no sense of humor. she should have done what i'm doing now...changing the station.

Feb. 08 2010 11:47 AM
hjs from 11211

real men pollute?

Feb. 08 2010 11:47 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

there is absolutely no point in discussing commercials during a football game.
to quote the late-great D.Boon-
"psychological methods to sell should be destroyed!"

Feb. 08 2010 11:46 AM
agilkat from hudson county nj

the ads are vile,stupid,inane,full of telegrafed lowest common denominator humor. and yes,you can diss men left and right and it is taken as agiven that it is cool. i'd rather be seen as a sex object than a vapid moron . yet women complain and men don't,go figure!

Feb. 08 2010 11:46 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Not a Dodge Caravan -- that's a MINIVAN. Doge CHARGER! (The over-the-top, testosterone-laced joke from Dodge.)

Feb. 08 2010 11:44 AM
Christina from Manhattan

The emasculation themed ads were in the minority this year, compared to previous ones.

On another subject the Green Police ad was the weirdest - what audience were they trying to target? People who are afraid of the green police?

I don't get the obsession with seeing men in their underwear though.

Feb. 08 2010 11:43 AM
cwebba from Astoria

I agree with Alex [7]. Being conscious of the commission of the ad caused me to notice the overt sexism of lots of the other ads.
Also, I participated in #SMWNYC last week, and Bonen Bell, Global PepsiCo Rep, spoke about how they for-went Pepsi Ads at the Super Bowl in favor of the Pepsi Refresh campaign. This is worth exploring - search Twitter.
Comments from the ad world today focus on the lack of URLs embedded in the commercials. The culture of the Super Bowl franchise seems to be as archaic as that of the Tea-baggers and BSA.

Feb. 08 2010 11:42 AM
carolita from manhattan

The most ironic line in the superbowl was when Daltry sang: "Let's get together before we get much older."

They seemed to be synching -- Pete's helicopter-like guitar strokes didn't always match what I was hearing (acoustics to blame?), and the scream from "don't get fooled again" was definitely canned (notice they didn't put the camera on anyone when it happened) -- does Daltry have emphysema? He was getting his lines out quick as if he were afraid he wouldn't have the breath for them. Let him be a lesson to all of us to not smoke, and keep exercising.

However, nobody can deny that they have written some of the best songs in rock EVER. I salute them for that.

Feb. 08 2010 11:36 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Considering CBS refused to run an spot for a gay dating site, it was remarkable that nearly every ad they did play featured men who were:

a) defensive about their manliness;
b) dismissive or fearful of women;
c) wearing almost no clothing;
d) any and all of the above.

It was the gayest Super Bowl ever, thanks to CBS!

Feb. 08 2010 11:31 AM
hjs from 11211

why aren't women (and everyone who believes in human rights) protesting cbs's alliance with the anti-choice movement?

Feb. 08 2010 11:09 AM
Ian from Brooklyn NY

I don't have a problem with Superbowl ads targeting males, but I had to roll my eyes at the large amount of commercials portraying men as victims of society.

Thankfully I can buy an expensive portable TV to take with me everywhere so I can better ignore the uncomfortable results of living in a patriarchy.

Feb. 08 2010 11:07 AM
Jeff from manhattan

Regarding The Who: It doesn't look like they got their wish ("hope I die before I get old") -- talkin' 'bout my h-h-h-hip replacement...

Feb. 08 2010 11:06 AM
Nancy Duggan from Morristown, NJ

Looking at the commercials this morning, it does seem that the Mad Men are focusing on mens' shaky view of their masculinity. Poor men!

That said, Betty White is wonderful.

Feb. 08 2010 11:05 AM
bk from nyc

I LOVED THE LETTERMAN SHOW AD (if one can actually love an ad). I watched it 3 more times on youtube - a little sick...

Feb. 08 2010 11:04 AM
df from

6 year old daughter, upon viewing superbowl on the tv in a non-football-watching household: "ooh, look at their outfits! they're gay, right?"

Feb. 08 2010 11:03 AM

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