Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime: Commentary


On Sunday night, in front of the prompted masses of screaming fans, U2 sang their songs, and did their dance. All the while, in the background a banner was unfurled and onto it was projected the names of the 3,300 or so Americans and foreign visitors and residents who met their fate on September 11th.

The sign, that towered towards to the heavens, was touching, perhaps one of the most touching tributes to the victims of Sept. 11th. Flanking the memorial to those lost was the best-selling, Grammy-winning, British band, U2 singing their songs and celebrating. Around a heart-shaped causeway, the band's leader, Paul D. Hewson, or Bono, as he prefers to be called, (the 80s and their one-named ways follow us into the '00s), danced and, oddly enough, ran around with glee.

Touching as the sign was -- stretching towards the heavens with the names of those lost -- the point was muted by the emphatically cheering crowd. Bono and his producers turned a memorial into a carney fun-fest. I could almost hear the barker calling out, prompting the crowd to crowd in towards the chart-topping musician, "Step right up, see the celebrity."

The issue is larger than the Super Bowl Half-Time Show. It is about the entire way America is treating the memorial of this group of innocent, now-buried victims. The memorials have turned from solemn reverence to a pop-culture fiasco.
"Unlike glitzy halftime shows of the past, the effects were limited to standard strobe lights. But all attention was on Bono anyway, who pulled back his lapel to reveal an American flag to the roars of the crowd."
--From the wire reports.

Just look at the way the flag is paraded about. Yes, the American Flag still stands and its primary colors still invoke within the hearts of men the dreams of freedom and justice; the promise of these United States. However, as Bono did, sewing it to the inside of your jacket does nothing to support America, rather it probably makes the flag smell like armpit.

This tribute does nothing to further the cause of America but trivializes the flag as a fashion statement and an applause-getter, not a testament to freedom or a reverent memorial of the dead.

We will never forget Sept. 11th, and surely, we need not be reminded of the sacrifices of the common man. The problem with Sunday's tributes is that they do nothing but trivialize what happened by trying, unsuccessfully, to recall the horrors we felt that day and the days that followed.

It is all about "moving on." We are creatures of equilibrium. We like going back to "normalcy," so we have tried to put the horror behind us. Then, when we try to rekindle that emotion, usually out of guilt, we are unsuccessful, we have tried to suppress what we feel so much. To try to rekindle the shock of atrocity we felt on Sept. 11th we parade firefighters and flags and come off as silly and over-the-top trying to do it.

Sept. 11th shocked everyone. We need to remember the lost, but not trivialize, through over-commercialization and pop-culture rhetoric. Instead, we need to look at today and toward tomorrow, where problems of a different, yet similar sort, are unfurled with the steady onslaught the future always bestows upon the unsuspecting.

Ry Rivard, 16, lives in West Virginia.

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