No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.
More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.
I don't remember all the ads but there were a lot of ones that made me laugh. About the only one that seemed questionable was the one with the cat and the mouse, but it turned out okay.
It was as if Madison Avenue were channeling Doc in “West Side Story,” the gentle owner of the candy store in the neighborhood that the two street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fight over. “Why do you kids live like there’s a war on?” Doc asks plaintively. (Well, Doc, this time, there is.)
Look, humor depends on surprise. Cartoon-like violence generally comes as a surprise and works as humor. Every year there are commercials at the Super Bowl with sudden, cartoonish violence. The difference is that this year, Stuart Eliot felt like writing about the war and not about the Super Bowl ads.
If he'd chosen to write about, oh, say, religion, he could write about the silly commercial with the crabs stealing a cooler full of Bud Light. If he wanted to talk about homosexuality, there was the ad where the two guys chomp on opposite ends of a Slim Jim (or something) and meet in the middle by kissing.
Let's cut to the chase, shall we? There was an ad that mentioned the Prudential Insurance company and its long standing symbol, the rock of Gibraltar. An icon that it has used as a symbol since before your reporter was even a gleam in his father's eye. But if you say the words, "The rock" repeatedly after drinking three bottles of cheap wine while standing on your head in your bathtub, it sounds a lot like "Iraq". Or possibly like "Scooter Libby" which would be almost as good.