February 2, 2010

QotD: Who’s on for halftime? And what does it actually mean?

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:59

This year’s Super Bowl halftime act is The Who, a band that would be eligible for Medicare if its members were American — Roger Daltrey is 65, Pete Townshend is about to turn 65. Now, I like senior citizens who scream into microphones as much as the next guy, but isn’t the Super Bowl halftime format getting a bit geriatric? Last year we got Bruce Springsteen, age 60. The year before — Tom Petty, age 59. Yes, recent halftime shows have been more up-tempo than the 1970 Super Bowl halftime act: Carol Channing. But there have got to be some younger groups out there that merit the Super Bowl stage, and could broaden the appeal to those younger than the Baby Boomer demographic.

Surely The Who will sing “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” When rock anthems are heard on television or in advertising, often they are electronically edited to emphasize well-known lines and downplay or delete anything that might make audiences uncomfortable. When this song is heard, the refrain “We won’t get fooled again!” is amped up — it sounds bold and defiant. Done away with are other lines such as “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” or “We’ll be fighting in the streets/with our children at our feet/and the morals that they worship will be gone.” And the following lyrics — what, exactly, do they mean? “I’ll move myself and my family aside/if we happen to be left half alive/I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky/for I know that the hypnotized never lie.” What does any of the song mean?

Originally, the song was received as anti-war or an extremely vague call to revolution. Some thinkers maintain the song is conservative — a disillusioned revolutionary declaring that street-protest tactics are useless. Townshend, who wrote the song, maintains the lyrics are apolitical, and mean, “Don’t expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything.” Huh? My guess is that, like a lot of what was received as “deep” in this field — Bob Dylan’s music, some of Springsteen’s — the lyrics don’t have any coherent meaning, they’re just a bunch of interesting individual lines cobbled together. I wince to think that a billion people watching the halftime show will nod happily as the line “We won’t get fooled again!” echoes around the world, when the majority of those watching will, most assuredly, get fooled again.

Gregg Easterbrook, “TMQ: Colts vs. Saints a contrast in styles”, ESPN Page 2, 2010-02-02

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