The NFL season is still a month away, with its four-week preseason schedule getting underway this evening. Not that it’s stopped people, most of whom probably aren’t into the sport, from bitching about the Super Bowl. Namely, its halftime show.
You might have heard about a petition circulating online some drunk guy wrote that’s demanding that master parodist Weird Al Yankovic plays 49th Super Bowl in Arizona this coming February. To date, it’s reached more than 55,000 signatures, which by some logic makes it a success. Problem is, its arguments are fucking stupid, even if watching him perform the “Sports Song” on the football field would be totes lol.
First, while Weird Al is having a resurgence, his appeal is not enough to draw “a wider audience of fans that typically would not tune into the championship game.” A wider audience than fucking Beyoncé? Than Bruno Mars? Right.
Listen, the sentiment is admirable. Almost as if he’s making up for lost time, Weird Al’s massive resurgence is a beautiful sight for fans who grew up on Dare to Be Stupid through Running with Scissors. But the Super Bowl isn’t about authenticity, and its not about self-serving petitions.
Remember last year, when Bon Jovi fans cried over Bruno Mars getting the nod at the New Jersey-staged slaughtering of the Denver Broncos? And remember how fucking fantastic he was? In the weekly lead up to Bruno’s performance a petition to have Gwar perform in 2015 was going around. More than 50,000 people signed it without a peep from the NFL. What’s next? A Cheech & Chong reunion? The Lonely Island? Maybe Chris Pratt can do an entire set as Eminem!
Last year, the argument was about authenticity. Bruno Mars is a waifish little dude who probably can’t even catch a football. He writes songs about girls and how they are beautiful and how he loves them. Football fans would rather rock. If they had their way, Bruce Springsteen would play every year. Oh, the Who aren’t available? What about the Rolling Stones.
But like we’ve learned the last two years, both with Bruno Mars and with Beyoncé, is that it’s not about what football fans want. They’re going to watch anyway. And if they’re not, their wives or girlfriends or boyfriends or siblings probably will. The game is about what football fans want: Touchdowns, quarterback sacks and inexplicable intentional grounding calls two minutes into the first quarter. The overall experience, though, that’s about, well… the experience. That’s what brings an audience large enough to populate Canada four times over.
Look at petition organizer’s Ed Ball’s updates on the Change.org page and you’ll see the usual “rap is crap” argument you get against anyone not slinging a guitar with an American flag bandana flapping out of their ass pocket.
“I do not want to sit through another Black Eyed Peas disaster or see Nicki Minaj verbal vomit some lyrics that I cannot understand,” he wrote before hitting 20,000 signatures. “Just imagine him out there rocking with Jack Black & Melissa McCarthy, while parodying Pharrell & Robin Thicke.”
That. Sounds. Terrible. Don’t want to see Nicki Minaj? Go sit on the toilet for a few minutes. Hack a dart. I don’t know, maybe talk about the first two quarters with your friends or family? Just because you’re not tuning in doesn’t mean hundreds of millions of other people aren’t.
It may seem impressive right now to see that a petition to have Weird Al split-kick through “Word Crimes” has more than 50,000 signatures until you realize they would only be able to fill 2/3’s of the University of Phoenix Stadium. For Weird Al, it’s got to be incredibly flattering to see how passionate his fans are. For the NFL, it’s totally meaningless.
People who aren’t passionate about the NFL would be surprised to learn how Roger Goodell operates the league. Or, specifically, doesn’t. For the most part, he’s hands off. Sure, he’ll penalize one of his best players for having less than 1/3 the military limit of weed in his piss test, but since 1998, the league has had very little hand in the halftime show, tossing the onus onto sponsors like Pepsi, Bridgestone and Clear Channel. The NFL regularly turns a blind eye to DUIs, manslaughter trials and domestic abuse because moral outrage can barely scrape the edge off its astronomical profit margins.
Weird Al’s recent success is endearing and charming and one hell of a feel-good story, three things that mean absolutely nothing to the NFL. Like its infamous commercial lineup, the halftime show is about selling or endorsing a product. Can you imagine Pepsi signing off on a Weird Al polka broadcast to 111 million people? More importantly: Can you imagine Weird Al signing off on it?