This was a weird year, fans.
I mean, we've had the Year of Hating Women. (Which one? The one I can't link because that was before CultureGeek went rogue on its own site.) You remember: it was the year of whiny men and the women who harangue them. There have been plenty of years of stupid "use our product and you'll get laid" commercials aimed almost entirely at heterosexual men, ignoring that more women than men watch the Super Bowl and more women than men are the primary decision-maker in buying a car.
And there was the year of the Black-Eyed Peas and what formerly held the crown as the most WTF halftime show ever.
But this year... man. This was the Year of the Depressing PSAs and ads that tried to be depressing PSAs. And that makes them hard to snark, because each of those issues is really important and needs to be discussed. But not always in the way they decided to discuss them. As Nationwide found out when it became the punchline of the internet.
Look. The Super Bowl is a chance to reach the widest possible audience and fight against sexism, heroin addiction, childhood accidents, etc. But there's an effective way to do it, and a way that leaves everyone in the room saying, "Huh?" Here's a hint: if you're overly dependent on hearing every word of your ad, it's not going to fly. The Super Bowl is generally watched in a loud party or a louder bar. They. Can't. Hear. You.
Someone told me the voiceover on the domestic violence ad was a real 911 call. That means it was probably an incredibly effective ad... any time other than the Super Bowl. Which conversely is disappointing, because there is a high level of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday.
And I'm not just talking about the last play... Hey, it got exciting enough at the end that I stopped snarking and actually watched. And then a bunch of overgrown children threw tantrums and started fighting. Way to ruin the game, guys. Nobody wants to cheer on the guys who just won after slugging it out in the end zone. Now we get to talk to our kids about "sportsmanship."
Now, let's get to the replay!
• Idina Menzel's awesome rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner reminds me why I was a fan before Frozen, before Wicked. Awesome voice and good rendition of one of the more difficult songs.
• Chevy's "what if your TV went out?" commercial was awesome. Still don't want a Chevy. But it was fun to watch all the guys gasp in horror and hear the screaming across Twitter.
• The Snickers Brady Bunch commercial was hilarious. I am the only one at my party who hadn't seen it, as I actively avoid commercial spoilers. Danny Trejo gets extra credit for playing the funniest version of Marcia Brady I've ever seen, with extra credit to Steve Buscemi. Bwaha! It got a vote for best commercial.
• A collective "awww" greeted the lost puppy Budweiser commercial. Another one I had missed, and I don't care that it's maudlin, it's the only thing that makes me like Budweiser.
• Old people giving advice was awesome. "You learn a lot in 100 years," and even though I still don't want to buy a Dodge, I give them kudos for a great way to recognize a century of life. This also got votes for best commercial.
• And even though "This land is your land" is really an American song, and actually written as a counterculture anti-capitalism anthem, it oddly fit with views of the world in the lyrics they chose to include. "The world is a gift, play responsibly." Kudos to Jeep on a spot that made me stop typing and listen. Others felt it just didn't quite fit, given that we know the song, but strangely, I didn't care as much as I did when they mangled "Cat's Cradle."
• GoDaddy pulled its obnoxious "selling puppies on the internet" commercial, so I was prepared for its OTHER commercial to make me throw things at the screen, as they do every year. Instead, we see a bit of a downer, a business owner at his job not enjoying the Superb Owl... however, it was the first GoDaddy commercial EVER that actually talked about what GoDaddy does! It offers internet and web services for people and small businesses! Wow! I said for years that GoDaddy was an expensive but quality service, and if their commercials had actually said that, I might have stuck with them instead of ditching them for the far cheaper but harder to manage Dreamhost. Still, kudos for finally having an ad without naked women in it, GoDaddy.
• Liam Neeson's cell-game commercial not only poked fun at his out-for-revenge schtick, but also Americans who can't pronounce his name, and still made us notice the game. Several people picked LIE-am as the best. Also, extra credit to Pierce Brosnan, also mocking his own traditions with his exploding cabin. "Can I keep the car?"
• Finally, my pick for best commercial was #LikeAGirl. Yeah, it was straight-up PSA and wasn't cute or funny or had a twist at the end. I don't care. If I hear "you throw like a girl" again I'm gonna throw something myself. When I asked the room for their pick of best commercial, men and women simultaneously replied, "Like a Girl."
• Whoa, Nationwide. Your "I never got the chance to grow up" commercial was probably a great idea... any. other. time. "Buzzkill" doesn't even cover it. The cooties were adorable, and you had us all enthralled up until the kid DIES and we were all so depressed we didn't notice the next three commercials. This got the most votes for worst commercial; while many others were sad or depressing, at least you knew it was going to be depressing from the start. If you wave off animated cooties, we think you're striving for funny!
• That. Halftime. Show. Okay, it was not a complete fail, because it provided us with endless snark. I sang "The more you know..." as she rode the Rainbow Brite star across the Super Bowl. Our hostess assured us that no, she did not spike the punch with LSD, we were really watching hideously cheerful palm trees and shark furries dance around Katy Perry's inflated beachball bikini top. That said... Can't we just have a really good singer give us a mini-concert and let it ride with good music instead of psychotic WTFery?
• Speaking of dads, Nissan commercial with father and son was a flop. Sorry, I get that "Cat's in the Cradle" is about fathers and sons, but listen to Inigo: It does not mean what you think it means. Though "This Land is Your Land" was similarly taken out of context, it was strangely more appropriate than this use of "Cat's Cradle." It got votes for worst commercial. P.S. You know that Harry Chapin died in a car crash, right?
• The Jurassic World trailer: delightful. Though I'm still waiting for the plausible plot reason that someone said, "You know, that Jurassic Park idea sounds great. Let's go make that happen." Suggestions from the web: "Hey, we figured out basic zoo design!" Let's see how that works out for them...
• Tomorrowland still doesn't tell us very much about the story, but I am still interested in it no matter how vague the trailers are. I'm still wondering what George Freaking Clooney is doing in that film.
• Speaking of vague trailers, the new Terminator trailer didn't tell me anything I hadn't already seen about it. Still not sure that this movie really needs to happen, but if it makes Terminator Salvation unhappen, I'm fine with it. Ecstatic, even.
• Furious 7 does not interest me in the slightest, but mine was the minority opinion. I suppose I'd need to watch Fast & Furious 1-6 to care.
• And just when we thought we might get out of the Super Bowl without stupid sex, an ad for Fifty Shades of Grey comes on. It sold over 100 million copies, folks. It's enough to make the rest of us sit down and cry.
• Toyota's woman without feet, who still does amazing things. I can put up with the fact that it has zip-all to do with how good the Camry is as long as it's fun and inspiring. In the same vein: Microsoft gives kids legs. Assuming it's all true stories, kudos and kudos, though I don't know that it drives me toward your product.
• TurboTax is obviously trying to make up for the colossal fail this season, a clear cash grab shifting the Schedule C and investment income to their most expensive product. To their credit, they've worked hard to make up for it with $25 refunds and free upgrades to customers who complained. And the Tea Party ad was amusing. Those of us who have to file Schedule C are still going to watch carefully next year to see if the most expensive tax software still plans to double our costs; H&R Block is salivating.
• Kudos to Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel for mocking their own cluelessness about the internet while hawking a car, even if my ethical hackles get a little rough on journalists endorsing products.
• The Carnival cruise line ad wasn't funny or unusual, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me think about going on a cruise. Maybe I just really need a vacation.
• Doritos commercial with the jerkwad in the airplane is a winner, if only because he gets what he deserves.
• esurance commercial with Lindsay Lohan trying to pick up kids who aren't hers: creepy. The one with Bryan Cranston as a *cough* drug dealer: win.
• Camry ad with the daughter whose dad is with her through all the rotten stuff and the good stuff, and let it go without a stupid twist at the end. Much better than the other dad commercials.
• Last-minute additions! When your phone goes down, God knows what could happen. Collective explosion of laughter, and we almost remember the name of the company (Morphie). Pigs fly for Doritos: Vaulted to the top! Also: Human Pac-Man! Where do I sign up! (Keep the Bud Light.)
• Game of War ad, co-starring blond woman's bouncing breasts. And here I thought we weren't going to have ridiculous sex in the ads. Thanks for restoring the balance of the universe, gamers.
• All car commercials that weren't funny. Really, watching a Lexus going through a super-clean parking garage while dancers cavort doesn't make me any more interested in buying a car. Also, why are fast cars always skidding sideways? That doesn't actually inspire much confidence.
• The Dove Men+ Care commercial had everyone until the very end. What makes a man a good dad? Deodorant. Wait...
• McDonald's "Pay With Love" campaign could seriously blow up, folks. "Call your mom, tell her you love her!" Uh, what if Mom died last month? Thank you so much for making me want to cry over my fries. Can I just swipe my card?
• Fiat and Not-Viagra Pill of Destiny: Old people don't need to have sex anyway. Buy Fiat! However: It got one vote for best commercial. So, y'know, different strokes.
• I might not dislike the DreamingWithJeff commercial as much if I didn't hate The Big Lebowski. Yeah, I know. The Dude abides. Unfortunately.
I missed the avocados! To internets! In the meantime, good night and good luck.