It's official: The hype for Super Bowl commercials has reached the same ridiculous proportions as the orgiastic hoopla over the game itself. The point of no return was reached late in the second quarter Sunday, when CBS ran an ad for a website where you can watch the ads again. Next year, I imagine, we'll have a six-hour pregame show telling us what to watch in the commercials, complete with Boomer Esiason going over the matchups between Bud Light and Doritos.
Ironically, the hype boiled over during a Super Bowl with the least memorable ads in years. The most notable thing about Sunday's ads was a new record for cheesiness when Coca-Cola, in an ad linked to Black History Month, insinuated that it was the official drink of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
Otherwise, the ads were mostly forgettable. Weird-looking people drinking Sierra Mist. People with funny accents drinking Bud Light. A razor somehow causing a woman to fall off a treadmill in a gym, an ad I first thought must be for the Jackson Memorial Hospital emergency room but turned out to be for Schick.
Indelibly forgettable, if that's not an oxymoron, were all the wildly promoted "user-generated content" ads. Several companies made much of contests that allowed supposedly regular TV viewers to create commercials. The concept was phony to begin with - the finalists, mostly ringers, included filmmakers and marketing executives - and even the Chevy ad that was conceived by an actual University of Wisconsin student was slickly and expensively produced by an ad agency.
If the user-generated stuff proved anything, it was that amateurs can be just as dumb and smutty as the pros. That Chevy ad consisted of men stripping naked to lasciviously rub themselves against a car. As if auto-eroticism didn't already have a bad enough name.
When commercials were striking, it was mostly for their darkness. This year's Sylvia Plath Trophy for Moroseness in Advertising goes to GM, in which a cute little robot loses its job on a car assembly line after dropping a part, slides into unemployment and homelessness, and finally throws itself off a bridge. Psych! It was just a dream, because GM's insistence on perfection is enough to make even machines neurotic and suicidal. Next Super Bowl, maybe GM will have an ad where workers who botch something on the assembly line are locked in a room with Lorena Bobbitt. Maybe they can co-produce it with Schick.
The most disturbing commercial of all, though, was the NFL's own ad featuring celebrities at a Super Bowl party with the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Johnson. The inescapable allusion to hanging (with) Chads was a hideous reminder to the rest of the country of how South Florida wrecked the 2000 election.
We matched that Sunday with a driving rainstorm that turned Sunday's Super Bowl into a horrifying montage of fumbles, interceptions and dropped passes: a real-life version of those idiotic little plastic players in vibrating electric football games who run in endless, aimless circles. Man, we mess up everything. If we were a suicidal robot and threw ourselves off a bridge, we'd miss.