Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wow, Did You See That! How the Media Covered the Super Bowl

By Lyndsay Borko

Super Bowl XLIX. The New England Patriots versus the Seattle Seahawks. It was bound to be a thriller: Not only was it a game between the east coast and the west coast, but the Seahawks had won the Superbowl in 2014, 43-8 against the Denver Broncos. Everyone who had even the slightest interest in football sat themselves in front of their TVs on the night of February 1, 2015, anxious to see if the Seahawks would pull out another victory. However, Seahawks fans would be disappointed. The Patriots took the lead in the last quarter and won the game 28-24.
The media covered this annual event of festivities and beer drinking in a variety of ways. The first way in which the Super Bowl was covered was the one most closely related to the sport itself: The Seahawk's massive fumble that cost them the game. According to New Public Radio, the final play by the Seahawks is being called “The worst call in Super Bowl history.” Sports Illustrated stated, "That was simply the most astounding play call in NFL history."
I will not pretend to understand football. But to sum it up, the Seahawks chose to pass the ball instead of handing it to their top running back, Marshawn Lynch, at the 1 yard line. This cost them the entire game. Despite such a close win by the Patriots, almost no one—except reporters in New England, who are celebrating—is talking about them. Everyone is too busy re-watching that one mistake by the Seahawks and trying to figure out why it all went wrong.
Another big angle the media chose to pursue surrounding the events of the Super Bowl was Katy Perry's astounding halftime show. For those who saw it, it was truly a sight to behold. She entered on a giant metallic robotic lion, had a gaggle of dancers and singing sharks, and flew through the sky like a real firework. Her performance also included surprise guests like Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot.

Despite some insane things that went on during her performance--countless costume changes, pyrotechnics, flying machines, possible shade-throwing at Taylor Swift--the only thing reporters seemed to focus on were the dancing sharks. Viewers seemed to be dazzled by the sharks and nothing else. Specific praise has been given to “Left Shark,” who forgot his choreography and just rolled with it on national TV. 

According to Perry's choreographer, RJ Durell, the sharks actually stuck to the choreography 100%. They were told to keep it fun, and bring these characters to life in a cartoon like way. This was achieved by the juxtaposition of right shark and left shark. The former, who performed perfectly choreographed moves, and the latter, who just improvised The population's obsession with the sharks sparked a quest to uncover the identity of the sharks, specifically left shark. The two underwater performers enjoyed a few days of mystery before identifying themselves. Both left shark and right shark, who are identified as Bryan Gaw and Scott Myrick, respectively, became overnight sensations in the United States.
Another way in which the media covered the great event that is the Super Bowl is by focusing on the advertisements that played during the commercial breaks. A 30-second time slot reportedly cost about $4 million in 2014, according to the research firm Comunicas, so having an advertisement air during the Super Bowl is a huge deal.

Some advertisements were praised, such as the “Like a Girl” campaign started by Always, while others fell short. One advertisement that is getting a lot of negative coverage is Nationwide Insurance's commercial. The commercial has been criticized by USA Today and NBC, among others. In it, a little boy lists things he can not do, like learn to ride a bike, get cooties from a girl on the bus, or get married... because he died in a car crash. People are outraged that the company is using the death of a child, albeit metaphorically, to sell insurance. The uproar became so strong that Nationwide had to issue a statement standing by their campaign, insisting that it was not meant to sell insurance, but to start a national conversation about safety.

Other ads included McDonald's rewarding customers' acts of kindness with Big Macs, Coca-Cola frying the Internet and ending cyber-bullying, and Kim Kardashian starring in a not-so-heartwarming public service announcement about preserving your data with T-Mobile, which was hard to even realize was a commercial for T-Mobile.
The Super Bowl is one of the most widely covered events in the United States. However, it seems that not much of the media coverage rooted in the Super Bowl actually has much to do with the game. People aren't necessarily drawn to the game itself, but all the events that come along with it, and it seems that those events tend to make headlines more than the game does.

My mom could not even tell you who played in the Super Bowl this year, but she sure can give you a detailed description of the halftime show.

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