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What to expect between plays

Entertainment | Super Bowl entertainment deserves a stronger rating than the game
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/02/18, 01:46 pm

The Super Bowl represents one of the last bastions of mass marketing in the internet age, and it charges accordingly. The average 30-second TV ad spot during this year’s Super Bowl is expected to cost more than $5 million, according to Sports Illustrated. That’s up about 87 percent from a decade ago, according to Kantar Media.

To maximize their return on that investment, companies are working to generate pregame buzz for their commercials. Many sponsors have pre-released ads online and are promoting them on social media. Mercedes-Benz, a perennial Super Bowl ad buyer, is giving away a car as part of its big game marketing. The automaker created a smartphone game called “Last Fan Standing,” in which users follow an onscreen car with their fingers. The last one still touching the car wins.

“We wanted to get beyond the traditional game-day executions and do something that was more reflective of the social co-viewing phenomena that game day has become, with people alternating between watching the big screen and socializing on the small one,” said Drew Slaven, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA.

The halftime entertainment for the Super Bowl has for many become bigger than the game itself. Pop star Justin Timberlake headlines the show this year. The former boy-band star, now a husband and father, just turned 37. He seemed to downshift the sexual charge of his songs with the 2016 hit dance number “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the movie Trolls. Of his upcoming album Man of the Woods, he said it was “really inspired by my son, my wife, my family.”

And then he released the album’s first single, an electronic chant titled “Filthy.” The video mimics an Apple keynote speech, but it introduces naughty robots, not iPhones. The song is a good reminder that Timberlake is the same artist who exposed Janet Jackson’s breast on live TV during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. The Parents Television Council has already addressed its concerns in an open letter to Timberlake: “We ask you to keep the halftime show friendly and safe for the children watching, and who may be hoping to emulate you one day.”

Because of the Super Bowl’s enormous, heterogeneous audience, the commercials and the halftime show play to the lowest common cultural denominators of wealth and pleasure. For those of you planning to watch the game Sunday, keep the remote handy and be ready to flip to something more family-friendly, like the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, where “filthy” means not housebroken.

Associated Press/Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision Eminem

Rap revival?

A new song by rapper Eminem and pop star Ed Sheeran talks about the remorse a father feels after his girlfriend has an abortion.

The single “River” off Eminem’s new album, Revival, tells of a man who took advantage of an emotionally unstable woman and made her get an abortion when she became pregnant. The lyrics, not suitable for tender ears, include laments such as, “Didn’t really wanna abort,” “Well, little one, I’m sorry,” and, “Why do I do this dirt that I do?”

The song acknowledges the sin and pain of abortion and refers to the victim as an unborn baby, not just a fetus or clump of cells. It is not the only offering from Eminem’s new album to acknowledge the existence and power of God.

In “Walk on Water,” the rapper seems to be telling his fans not to consider him a god or expect miracles from him. “God’s given me all this, still I feel no different regardless. … I’m not God-sent,” he says.

Eminem is not the only rapper to explore theology in his music of late. Tyler Huckabee observed in The Washington Post earlier this week that hip-hop is having a God moment. Now that the God moment has reached a rapper as preeminent as Eminem, maybe the moment will last, and the conviction expressed in rap songs will lead to something even greater: repentance. —L.L.

Associated Press/DFS (file) Associated Press/DFS (file) Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood in 1959

Suspicious death

Investigators are taking another look at the 1981 drowning death of actress Natalie Wood and say her former husband, 87-year-old actor Robert Wagner, is a “person of interest.” Wood, who starred in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause, drowned after a night of partying on a yacht with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken. Speculation has surrounded her death since then, especially after the boat’s captain said in 2011 he heard the couple arguing that night. In an upcoming interview with the CBS News program 48 Hours, Los Angeles sheriff’s officials say new witnesses have come forward, and now investigators are looking to interview Wagner. —L.L.

Jesus is still alright

Jim Caviezel confirmed this week he will reprise his role as Jesus in an in-the-works sequel to The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson is returning to direct, and Caviezel said in an interview with USA Today that what Gibson has planned will “shock the audience.” Neither Caviezel nor Gibson has given a timetable for production of the movie, which will focus on Jesus’ resurrection. The Passion of the Christ, released in 2004, remains the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever in North America. Caviezel plays another Biblical figure, the Gospel writer Luke, in the upcoming film Paul: The Apostle of Christ (see trailer below). —L.L.

Back to the neighborhood

Tom Hanks will play Mister Rogers in Sony TriStar Pictures’ You Are My Friend, the studio announced this week. The film focuses on a life-changing encounter journalist Tom Junod had with Fred Rogers, the peace-loving star of the children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Rogers—who was an ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church in the USA, which later merged to form the liberal mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), but never pastored a church—hosted the show from 1968 to 2001. He died in 2003. PBS plans to air a 50th anniversary tribute to the show on March 6. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sun, 02/04/2018 09:12 am

    Sorry to disappoint anyone but I won't be watching any part of the Super Bowl.  For me watching multi-millionaires charge working people 4,000+ dollars for one seat while they take a knee because they are not being treated fair is beyond what is decent.  I can't do it. Indecency has several faces and those who watch Sunday just might see all of them. 

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Fri, 02/09/2018 09:03 pm

    I have not watched Superbowl halftime shows since that 2004 shocker.  That shocked and disgusted me.  Parents should be able to watch the Superbowl with their children without fear.  But there are all sorts of things that come into view every day that I need mentally to filter out.  We are Rome...