I barely watched the Superbowl last night; more than most years, I was apathetic to the outcome. There were two strong franchises, neither of which holds my allegiance, and both of which had won relatively recent championships. With no underdog or home team to root for, the competition was not so much compelling as it was tiresome. Still, Tom Brady irritates me for no reason I can defend; there are a number of people in the world that I want to punch in the face because they exist, and he is on that list with Beyonce and a handful of others. Everyone else that I want to punch in the face? I can at least tell you why.
My best guess behind my response to Tom is that he projects a sort of hyper-masculine stupidity; I’ll bench press a Ford 150, impregnate a supermodel, win a few Superbowls and yet — at the corner of his mouth you can see the drool starting to gather. I like manly-men, but I like them better when they can project intelligence. Eli Manning is boyishly adorable, like a ferocious puppy or a hyper-alert infant, so as a woman I find myself having a slight preference in his direction. Which is still not to say I want Eli to win so much as I would rather see Tom lose.
Anyway, in that sense this year’s Superbowl was really a preview of this year’s election cycle. It’s not so much that I’m rooting for a winner as I’m hoping for a particular loser. The winner, whoever they are, is by definition better than the vacant alternative; however, I have no hope that they will be so much better that I will care to root them on.
Reading through the headlines today, I wondered if it was my own cynicism that was causing me to view current events in terms of such futile dichotomies that I can hardly care whose interest prevails:
Jews versus Arabs? Both so fucked in the head and blinded by their own religious hysteria I can only hope they have a showdown resembling a matter/antimatter particle collision.
The Catholic Church versus Obama’s mandate? Let me see, who do I like more…the institution that tends to fondle children after they’re born or the administration that says its OK to kill them off first?
The FCC versus M.I.A.? A talentless hack trying to gain attention for herself with an “edgy” gesture is pathetic, but maybe not as pathetic as having a government entity care to censor something every kid who ever sat in the backseat of a car has seen a million times.
US versus Russia and China? We told Russia we didn’t want to go out with her and then we act all surprised when she starts sleeping with our abusive boyfriend.
I’m trying not to become completely complacent; I remind myself to remain passionately critical of the players even if I am apathetic to the outcome of the game. Our descendants are the ones who ultimately get to scribble “good” or “bad” in the margins of the history books; we can’t declare winners, but we can judge the teams on the field. Staying engaged despite the momentary meaninglessness is our responsibility to someone else’s tomorrow, and when I feel the creep of despair I try to ward it off with gratitude for our ancestors who fought in the face of their own futility and brought us every good thing we enjoy today.