Monday, March 13, 2006

Oh Say Can You See?

This weekend I participated in a quintessential Texas activity: I went to the Houston Rodeo with my new bud Fred. Yep, they had cows. Yep, they had horses. Yep, the whole event had strong undertones of homoeroticism. Yep, cowboys can be hot – assuming a bull hasn’t stepped on their face at some point.

The opening ceremony struck me the most, though. Since I avoid most sports events, I had not seen a public performance of the U.S. national anthem in quite some time. When did the national anthem gain corporate sponsors? In the case of this rodeo, Coca Cola brought us The Star-Spangled Banner.

We all know that I am hardly a flag waver. You will never see me demanding patriotism and I think the flag invites incineration. Something about this performance struck me as fundamentally wrong, though. Consumerism has taken over every element of our lives to the point that even patriotism has a capitalist patron.

What did Coca Cola money provide? Apparently our national attention span has become so short that we now need lots of eye-candy to keep us interested in the national anthem. At the line “Bombs Bursting in Air” we had a full pyrotechnic display. On top of that, the stadium glistened with an electric light show while a pretty-girl-in-tights waved a flag pole emitting a shower of sparks.

At the moment that the right-wing demands an unquestioning allegiance to the nation state, Americans seem unprepared or unable to commit their attention without being entertained. No wonder the American public has become so poorly informed about world news. Without a dazzling display of fire and noise, they can’t be bothered to take notice.


Adam said...

I don't know if its so much that people need to be entertained and hooked in with products but so much as it is that nothing is sacred and everything is for sale. Companies are no longer satisfied with billboards, radio, and TV for their ad space. They constantly are trying to place their product in places where consumers will be placing their undivided attention.

Conor Karrel said...

Corporate sponsorship of the National Anthem is a sad statement indeed.

I remember a time when it was just the high notes that awed you. Now it's who's got the biggest fireworks display.

No wonder most of the country voted for the shrub the second time, that fireworks display in Baghdad was impressive!

I remember being in a bar when the bombing started and hearing people cheer when the explosions were ripping through human lives, and all I could think was, we're no better than they are. I sat in the corner until I got so nauseated I had to walk home.

Obviously I'm not the most patriotic of people.

Shark-Fu said...

A bitch just wishes that folks knew the words...they are really quite touching, though all about war.

But folks don't know what freedoms are protected constitutionally and they have no idea why they stand and put their hand over their heart...but they sure can sing a Coke jingle, huh?


Good post...sad topic...

Aethlos said...

PURE Americana. What could be more perfect? how horrifically gorgeous.

tornwordo said...

Give me shiny, sparkly things and I'll vote for you. Giggle. Being an American is fun!

Larry said...

Oh you were talking? There wasn't anything flashy so I wasn't paying attention.


I am in no position to get on my high horse about consumerism.

Oso Raro said...

"Out of the Closets, Into the Stores!" still remains one of my mottos, although I do think LGBT folks are both annoyingly avid consumers (read Out or Genre lately? Bleh!) as well as critical observers of the temptations and falsehoods of the commercial endeavour (because so many of us have lived in the mirrored funhouse of desire, lies, and alternative personae).

Also, Rodeos? Um, hot! Sometimes cowpokes are better after the hoof in the face, then they're not so stuck up and more approachable! Yummy, but then again, this girl has always appreciated her ROUGH trade.