An epic win. Seemingly down for the count with a 25 point deficit midway through the third quarter, yet the Patriots came from behind to win in the greatest upset in Super Bowl history. Halftime predictions gave the Falcons a 98% chance of winning. For many fans, it was like election night all over again. A seemingly impossible win left half the nation rejoicing while the other half watched in stunned disbelief.
It’s been said that everything is political. And sadly that’s how many in our divisive culture operate. Every opportunity is used to score a political point.
The Left even thinks sports players and coaches must pass a political litmus test to be worthy of support. Before the Super Bowl, many were calling on Patriot fans to switch allegiance to the Falcons due to the supposed support of Donald Trump by Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
Bill Maher ranted: "The Falcons are playing a team where the owner, the coach and the star quarterback all love Donald Trump. So I'd really like for them to lose by a score of a million f---ing thousand to none."
And Conservative Review reported: “The Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed by sports documentary producer Kelly Candaele declaring his support for the Falcons on the basis of the “loathsome politics” of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft.”
Sports have been one of the last unifying activities in America. When you’re sitting in a stadium, it doesn’t matter if the fellow fan next you voted for Trump or Clinton. You don’t need to know their opinion on illegal immigration. You’re just there to enjoy a game.
When it comes to a national pastime like the Super Bowl is it too much to ask that we just be allowed to watch a football game without politics being injected into it? Obviously it is.
In years past, advertisers sought to outdo each other in making the most talked about ads. Some, however, would choose crassness over creativity and received rightful condemnation by many (such as American Decency) for tarnishing a family viewing event. With one glaring exception, most advertisers last night (and in recent years) have chosen not to use sex to sell.
However that doesn’t mean that they weren’t selling something. And in several cases it seems as if they were more focused on pushing a political agenda rather than pushing their product.
The theme of a number of ads seemed to take a swipe, either subtly or overtly, at President Trump’s immigration policy.
Airbnb, the hotel alternative home-sharing service, ran an ad entitled “#weaccept” with the tagline:
“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept".
The trouble is, Airbnb does discriminate on matters of faith. Last fall Airbnb made waves for a policy that basically forces customers to affirm the LGBT lifestyle in order to use their service.
Coca-Colaalso pushed the diversity theme and repeated an ad used in a previous Super Bowl that featured “America the Beautiful” sung in different languages by people of different ethnicities.
“America the Beautiful” was also used to push an agenda as three female stars from the Broadway play “Hamilton” were tasked to sing the classic national hymn “America the Beautiful” before the Super Bowl. The three singers took it upon themselves to change the lyrics written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1892 – adding the words “and sisterhood” to the lines “crown thy good with brotherhood”. Using such an honored role to push an agenda shouldn’t come as a surprise – it was cast members of “Hamilton” who chastised Vice President Pence from the stage when he and family members attended the Broadway play last November.
The NFLalso ran an ad making a political statement. The National Football League has lost millions of viewers in recent months as players and the League have used their platforms to make political statements – i.e. Colin Kaepernick. The NFL’s “Inside these Lines” ad was another poke in the eye to limits on immigration. The narration included: “Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination. Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us. …”
An 84 Lumber adwas the most blatant political messaging of them all. The original ad from 84 Lumber was rejected by Fox, the network airing the Super Bowl, because the ad was deemed too controversial. The ad posted online runs several minutes long. Only a portion of it aired during the Super Bowl, directing viewers to go to the 84 Lumber website to watch the conclusion. Apparently 84 Lumber, which seems to align with Barack Obama’s immigration philosophy, must have also hired the same computer techs that launched the failed healthcare.gov website. When viewers went to the 84 Lumber website to see the ad, their site crashed.
The ad designed to tug at the heartstrings shows a Hispanic mother and daughter traveling on foot through Mexico to get to the United States – interspersed with other imagery of construction workers building a structure. The mother and daughter arrive at the border only to be faced with despair at the sight of a massive wall. But lo-and-behold, the construction workers had been building a giant door through the fence. With a golden glow shining as the door is opened, the mother and daughter happily cross through. The ad ends with the line: “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
What this ad doesn’t show is that for each loving mother and adorable child trying to make it to a better life in America, there are countless drug runners and others with not such noble motivations. The ad completely ignores the fact that while we are a welcoming nation, we are also a nation of laws. Proudly we are a nation of immigrants - I am the granddaughter of immigrants - but that doesn’t mean every immigrant who would like to come to America can do so at will and at risk to our national security.
As the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1893: “It is an accepted maxim of international law that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent to sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance to foreigners within its dominions or admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may seem fit to prescribe.”
Yet pesky little facts like that are ignored by corporate America who spent $5 million on a 30 spot to lecture Americans.
However, marketing professor Larry Chiagouris of Pace University warns that doing so might be a turnoff to potential customers: "The people who buy these products come from all political persuasions. No brand can afford to alienate any of them."
Our mothers drilled into us as children – “It’s just a game.” Too bad these corporations didn’t learn that lesson.
For one Sunday evening a year millions of Americans would like to escape the reality of the political divisiveness that permeates our culture and just enjoy a football game.
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American Decency Association is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.