Right now America is in a shaky state of withdrawal from its ultimate annual high: The Super Bowl. Will the addicted masses make it through to the opening of the baseball season...? Hard to say.
'King Kong,' the original 1931 movie, has swollen in scope into a mythic image of all that is powerful & vulnerable, dazzling & endearing about us. With a dozen different rivulets of reasons flowing into it, this orgy of power-on-power has become a Kong-like symbol of what and who we are as a nation. To quantify that, note the first Super Bowl 30-second ad in 1967 cost $37,500. This year it cost $3.8 million.
It's not enough to simply call this a championship game. It is that and oh so much more. Millions who would otherwise never watch football are drawn to this event like kids to a parade, for this particular parade offers something for everyone. Athleticism...rivalry...spectacle...plus a giddy excuse to party like there is no dawn.
You can't exactly define or dissect something this huge, but if you were to try, maybe three ingredients come to mind: Power...Pageantry....Permissiveness:
* If there's anything Americans love it's power. Men dream and chase the power of power in their lives, from boyhood tree climbing to adult career climbing. Power intoxicates women as well, although in more subtle ways. What could be a more definitive portrait of power than the hulking helmeted bodies of NFL Kongs strutting the gridiron?
* We've become a culture of pageantry. Speed, spectacle and sound & light shows are part of our daily diet, with an appetite that continually craves more. The Super Bowl feeds that craving for days before the event throughout its city site. With diagnostically intriguing reasons, both the local and visiting population can't get enough of it.
* Permissiveness is all part of the experience too. Like New Years Eve or Mardi Gras, Super Bowl Sunday means you can do whatever you've secretly dreamed of doing all the rest of the year. Hey, if Beyonce and her legion of anything-goes beauties can cut loose, why not me?
Oh, the score? Well, that was interesting too, but hardly the main raison d'etre for this King Kong of sports. The score goes into the record books, but this other stuff -- well, that goes into your memory bank from which you can still withdraw a few warm memories when you're too old to live them out anymore.
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