There are countless ways to measure the consumerist absurdity that makes up the pulsing heart of the Super Bowl (what, you thought it was football?). There’s the millions of dollars spent on the TV ads, of course — and those, any culture critic is quick to quip, are the real reason to watch. There’s the spectacle of half-time show, the organizers of which are engaged in a Sisyphean task of making this year’s more bombastic than the last. And if you zoom out a bit from the actual event, there’s the stocking up of foodstuffs, party supplies, and yes, brand-new HD TVs taking place around the nation in anticipation of the big event.
When it comes down to it, no other event other than Christmas inspires such consumption. But all that’s well-known, old hat; calling the Super Bowl a spectacle of consumerism is like complaining that Christmas has become too commercial. So let’s look at another jaw-dropping consumption-related statistic that most people haven’t heard about the Super Bowl. How’s this one:
According to Just Energy (via TriplePundit), Super Bowl XLV will use a staggering amount of electricity — enough to power 1,500 homes for an entire year. The total calculated energy includes powering the actual event, related functions, hotels, stadiums, and broadcast transmissions. It doesn’t take into account the power sucked down by folks’ TVs at home. And it’s “green” because the NFL hired a company to offset the energy use with ‘renewable energy certificates’.
Certificates or no, the Super Bowl remains the epitome of the mighty excess of American consumer culture, hands down. We could power an entire small town for a year with the energy usurped by the Super Bowl; we could feed that same town for the same amount of time with the leftover junk food from the day’s event. Now, I’ve got nothing against football, or even extravagant celebrations — but we should probably take a look at what it is that forms the foundation of what we’re actually celebrating: It is, after all, an event that has become our nation’s premier spectacle simply by being a bigger spectacle than anything else, built on the promise of being one giant opportunity to sell us stuff.
Image: Superbowl Livestream