For those who love to hate on the Super Bowl for, well, any number of reasons, consider this: It is a marvelous and ridiculous spectacle of our nation’s culture. For those who can’t appreciate that whole “sports” part, there are the ads. Taken together, they a pretty perfect microcosm of What Americans Want Now — and, as we well know, our spending habits are the biggest part of our climate impact.
Carnival Cruise Lines attempted to build our bond with the ocean
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“Come back to the sea,” they said. “All the cool kids are doing it,” they said. Because, you know, salt — it’s in the ocean AND in our blood. See also: Sweat; tears; the spice of life. The one-minute spot is made up of majestic helicopter shots of the ocean, which are probably nothing like the railed view from the deck of a cruise ship but nevertheless used to sell Carnival’s noble vision of purpose, underscored by a stirring speech by JFK from the 1962 America’s Cup.
And I’ll be honest: This was all working for about 53 seconds — before the ad cut to an ominous battalion of cruise ships advancing slowly over a darkened sea. Is this a visual representation of the way in which commerce has slowly but surely invaded our last wild places? Or how our experience of the natural world has been eroded to a monotonous parade of floating casino-hotels requiring only a pretty view from the picture window above the all-you-can-eat buffet? Do sharks shit in the sea? — Amelia Urry
Jeep told us that you can save nature — with an SUV
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Jeep’s Stupor Bowl spot displays a montage of striking landscapes, magnificent monuments, and humans wandering the wonderful world (some in Jeeps, of course), over an enchantingly sparse rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” And then the ad concludes, “The world is a gift. Play responsibly.” And we’re supposed to pretend like playing in the Renegade — “America’s smallest, lightest SUV” — isn’t akin to building the cleanest-burning coal-fired power plant, or flying in the most efficient private jet.
Sorry, Kim, but Coca-Cola broke the internet
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While other folks might have been tearing up about that dead kid ad, it was the Coke commercial that really hit me on a personal level. I recently spilled water on my laptop, and instead of “We got this” memes or life-affirming social media messages, I got the black screen o’ death. Apparently, if I had been drinking and spilling Coca-Cola, all the climate denier trolls would have disappeared from the Grist comments section and my computer would still be alive and well. If only I had had this information earlier!
RIP, computer. There’s no one like you. — Darby Minow Smith
McDonald’s wanted you to “pay with lovin’,” relinquish last uncynical corner of your heart
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There’s no celebration of American consumerism and eating trash food like the Super Bowl, so it was only apt that McDonald’s would bring its very best (read: nauseating) marketing game to the table. ICYMI, the fast food distributor is now demanding — through Valentine’s Day, that other genuine commemoration of human emotion — that some patrons pay for their meals in random forced acts of “love” and “joy” (cut to confused customers calling their mothers and awkwardly dancing at the behest of harried McDonald’s cashiers).
My love for McDonald’s French fries is well-documented, but I would run screaming from the premises if asked to participate in this charade. Imagine the hollow disappointment that your mother would feel upon hearing that your declaration of love for her was issued with the end goal of obtaining a McRib sandwich. No. — Eve Andrews
… And Budweiser kinda sorta tried to make up for all this mess
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The tale of a lost puppy saved by his Clydesdale pal was the most popular ad of last night’s Super Bowl, and — be real — it probably made you tear up a little. We know that humans are inordinately fascinated by animal friendships, the more adorable/improbable the better. Budweiser, ever savvy, is here for you heart- and purse-strings alike. — Amelia Urry