Volume 96, Issue 65
Friday, January 24, 2003

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EDITORIAL

Media super powers

Super Bowl XXXVII has arrived.

Surely you've heard about it; the American media has been clamouring about it since Kurt Warner and the rest of the St. Louis Rams were wiping their tears away after they lost last February's contest to the New England Patriots.

There's got to be some footage of that somewhere.

If there is, it has no doubt been splashed on your idiot box endlessly in the media's attempt to convince you that the Super Bowl is, in fact, the most important day of your life.

There is, after all, something for everyone. Don't like football? No problem. The halftime show is a marvel of Americana with acts ranging from country princess Shania Twain to the rock/ska stylings of No Doubt. You could spend as much time arguing about the merit of the musical entertainment as whether or not Tampa Bay will cover the spread (they will and then some).

If neither football nor music is your thing, there is one aspect of the Super Bowl all Americans can bond over – capitalism.

The Super Bowl is to the world of television advertising what Christmas Day is to a four-year-old, provided that four-year-old's family happens to be richer than stink.

People actually tune into this event strictly to view the part that is exclusively not about football.

If you like watching musical performances, watch MuchMusic. If you like commercials, watch... well, you should probably join a 12-step program.

The fact that record numbers of people tune into the Super Bowl isn't a good sign for the world. While some viewers are, no doubt, die-hard football fans and feel the outcome of this game will determine what direction their lives take, the fact so many will tune in for non-pigskin-related reasons speaks volumes about the power of the media.

Think about it. If you don't like coffee, chances are you don't line up at Tim Hortons to get a double-double every morning. However, hordes of people that have no interest in football will be clearing their day on Sunday to make sure they don't miss a minute of the action they have been told they can't live without.

One can't help but wonder if the same logic applies to the other topics that are flashed constantly across our television screens. If people become convinced they should be watching a football game, how big of a leap is it to think they take everything from all aspects of "The War on Terrorism" to "SUVs are lethal" at face value?

The media hype surrounding Super Bowl XXXVII is no different from its predecessors and, aside from making people fatter from the snacks they ingest during the game, nobody seems worse for the wear.

However, if media does in fact have the same power of impression on people in other areas, the consequences could be a bit more significant.

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