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Rolling Stones’ Super Bowl Show: More Disgusting Than You Thought



“If we all put our hands into this explosion, we will finally defeat the internet”

Blue States Lose

Ain’t irony, ain’t rock & roll–and granted, most of America tunes into this Super Bowl gig to get amped about grown men doing things with muscles and balls, not to see whether the camera hides Jagger’s facial lines, particularly the vertical indentations that look like dental floss holding up his lower jaw.

But goddamn, if any crackpot wanted more proof for his “sports are the pre-militant arm of Biblebeat, USA” conspiracy theory, here it was: the most sexually charged (“they brought the sex that the Beatles forgot,” says mom), rock&roll lifestyling (inventors of the cliche?) youth-wasters of forever, invited onto a televised stage to make emasculated examples of their emasculated selves, their dollar-billed skin and bones one of the more mind-melting commercials in Bowl history: Seriously, Just Say No. Forget the censored lyrics stuff–nothing new there–what better way to stick it to liberals than let the Stones, those avatars of something surely, hang themselves in front of the biggest television audience of the year? Unclear whether those shots were more vicious than the cuts of old drunk women with boob jobs jumping around with their daughters saving up for them, but glad to know this morality play certainly had room for a supporting cast.

Janet may have been the most rewound moment in TiVO history, but people forget, that was also a pretty great half-time show before the malfunction. So much energy she and Timberlake amassed, their body-rocking toeing the line, sure, but what a fantastic if not fantastical assertion of youth / freedom / pop as age-defying, race-defying, universally relevant medium, etc. Even the year after, when the NFL asked McCartney to perform, there was a bit of self-parody involved, as if to say “look, if we’re gonna play it cool, we’re gonna play it really damn cool–cool as ice.” And then somebody in the NFL board room would make the sound ice makes.

But however much Jagger was in on the joke of his skin flailing about in the Detroit wind or the irony of old bitch Britain entertaining cornfed America on its most cornfed, most American day ever, this performance was good proof that comedy and tragedy share a bloodline, and no number of lucky charms stuck in Richards’s hair can fend off the fates.

Well OK yeah, the performance wasn’t completely humorless, what with Jagger’s aside before “Satisfaction” (something about being able to have played it at Super Bowl I) and the retractable tongue thing which retracted literally seconds after my friend Chris said, concerned, “I think there are people trapped under that tongue.” Maybe people will buy A Bigger Bang after hearing “Rough Justice,” which the band snuck between the out-of-breath “Start Me Up” and the shamelessly prophetic “(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” as obvious and predictable of choices for the set as any. But the thing about those two songs, and the thing about the Rolled Stones playing them then and there, was how poorly they’ve aged after decades of overexposure, and how nastily that point was made a visual. And you thought the Dove commercial was too much.

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