Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trimalchio's Super Bowl: A Sign for the Times

Victor Davis Hanson has the breadth and depth of perspective that no one writing in America today can summon and apply to very mundane matters, although the victory of my Packers was actually a triumph of good over evil, as anyone wholinks to this Chico CA TV news story just up the road from VDH's farm in the San Joaquin Valley will understand. It's about Aaron Rodgers and his strong committment to civic and christian values, a pair of classical strengths in this day and age when many NFL players are busy inseminating dozens of young women and then preening when they assist in the raising of the kids, mostly with monetary donations. Mr. Cromartie, you know who I'm talking about...!

I have the Loeb library in the bookcase near me about the tale spun by Petronius Arbiter, and along with Trimalchio's extravagance, the strange tale of the Widow of Ephesus. The Satyricon is a classic in the decadence of a society teetering on self-destruction. Here's VDH:

Trimalchio’s Bowl

Sometime during the reign of the emperor Nero, the novelist and imperial confidant Petronius wrote a novel about life among the Roman nouveau riche in the Bay of Naples. The surviving centerpiece of the now mostly lost novel is an extended banquet scene at the zillionaire freedman Trimalchio’s house, where money, entertainment, and self-indulgence meet. Sunday’s Super Bowl’s festivities were something like Trimalchio’s dinner—which I urge you all sometime to read. It is a brilliant novel and a tragedy that most of it is lost.

Christina Aguilera did not quite sing all the national anthem. That might be considered shocking, given that Superbowl Sunday has become America’s signature cultural event. But the lapse was hardy surprising in today’s era where millions no longer lead off their school mornings, assemblies, and meetings with the pledge of allegiance or the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The better question in these times is how in the world did Ms. Aguilera get most of her lines right?

There have been wretched halftime shows, I know, given the impossibility of staging such outdoor performances. But I don’t recall anything quite like the talentless, self-congratulatory shouting of a group called “Black Eyed Peas.” Take away the smoke, the fireworks, the light shows, the Star Wars costumes, the North Korean-like supporting dancers, the Leni Riefenstahl sets, and what was left was some off-key yelling and frenetic prancing — half Road Warrior, half high-school bleacher noise — nothing remotely akin to music, but eerily similar to the sort of shrill musical interruptions that characterize Trimalchio’s feast.

Some strange man, I think, was lowered in on a rope, and I think we were supposed to be delighted about his appearance. But he muttered almost nothing, and Elvis decades ago had crafted a far more impressive sequined outfit. The fact that Barack Obama has borrowed over $3 trillion in just two years did not register with the suddenly politically concerned Black Eyed Peas, who at one point pleaded for Obama to borrow even more money: “Obama, let’s get these kids educated / Create jobs so the country stays stimulated.” If singers can’t sing, why would we expect that they could think?” Apparently lip service to some progressive cause is supposed to do what supposed music cannot?

There were numerous commercials and previews of movies to come; but I can remember none of them. They all became a blur of car crashes, explosions, computer animated fire breathing monsters, and assorted toy dinosaur-like creatures. Blowing stuff up and postmodern mini-plots to no purpose were supposed to make us buy beer, cars, and go back to the movies.

I have nothing much to say about the super-hyped O’Reilly/Obama pre-Super Bowl interview. When the president said that he had not raised taxes, I recalled in a nanosecond various “fees” that have been hiked and, of course, all the embedded taxes in the new health care bill and his opposition to the continuance of the Bush-era tax rates — waited for the polite rebuttal to come, heard none, and turned off the television.

O'Reilly has been yammering and pattering endlessly about his "get" of Obama just before the Super Bowl and preening on the immense viewing audience his empty interview, devoid of substance and any sense of a search for information, was said to have garnered.

Obama told lie after exaggeration after disinformative "factual" asides, and BOR simply allowed himself to be played, which is why now he is insistent that his interview was a masterpiece of integrity and staunch "holding Obama's feet to the fire."

It wasn't and O'Reilly's coup was simply one more exercise in the Kabuki theatrics that Obama is now playing with the GOP and other so-called opponents.

Victor Davis Hanson was right to shut off the TV, as long as he watched the Packers later beat the Steelers in a real nail-biting game. The reason 111 million people watched was that the game was real, whereas the politics is illusory and delusionary.

Just like Nero's Rome, built on a tinderbox of flammable substances.

No comments :