Super Bowl halftime and the culture of self-regard

Thankfully, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has informed an anxious nation there is “no indication at all” that Beyonce’s halftime show caused the Super Bowl blackout.  It used enough energy to electrocute a Japanese movie monster, but the show apparently had its own generator.

There has been some grumbling about whether the sexy stage review was inappropriate for the Super Bowl.  A review of the heavy advertising peppered through the Super Bowl leads me to believe that the people voicing this complaint don’t watch many football games, and are not entirely clear on who does.  

The culturally interesting aspect of Beyonce’s act is the theatrical display of self-regard.  She was surrounded by reproductions of herself; her performing style is all about reminding the audience that she’s all that plus a bag of chips.  (The bags of chips had their own commercials, before and after Beyonce’s 12-minute advertisement for Beyonce, Inc.)  It’s an interesting thematic clash with a culture that otherwise values self-deprecation and cynical humor, and professes to be all about humbling the rich and mighty – the “smart people” who congratulate themselves for their own achievement, as President Obama memorably disdained them.  But nobody is upset by multi-millionaire singers, actors, and athletes living diamond-studded lifestyles of conspicuous excess, or marketing themselves in a style that earlier generations would have found somewhat off-puttingly… boastful.  Never mind what they’d say about the skimpy costumes.