Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super bowl flub should make us rethink anthem singers

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Super bowl flub should make us rethink anthem singers
By Ray Hanania

You can do a lot of things at the Super Bowl.

You can fumble the ball repeatedly so the other team scores touchdowns. You can spend millions of dollars to make a crappy confusing Super Bowl commercial.

But you can’t screw up the National Anthem. And that’s what pop singer Christina Aguilera did to everyone’s surprise.

Instead of singing “Oér the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?” Aguilera sang this line, that she made up when she couldn’t remember the words. “What so proudly we watched at the twilights last gleaming.”

There were several moments when she was singing the song that a few thoughts came to my mind as I waited to watch Super Bowl 40 begin so that we could get to the commercials. Let’s face it, I am a Chicago Bears fan and I hate both the Pittsburgh Steelers and especially those cheese heads from Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers.

Like when she added that sound like she was gargling on national TV in the middle of her National Anthem rendition.

I remember the very first Super Bowl. I was 14. It was exciting enough without all the fancy-schmancy distortions and “renditions” of the National Anthem. We didn’t have any of the so-called exciting “Super Bowl” commercials.

We just had an exciting football game. The focus wasn’t on some hot looking singer – although Aguilera could lose a little weight. She was looking a little rotundish-like. The focus back then wasn’t on some Ad writer’s creative skills in making a commercial to convince us like mindless cattle to run out and buy beer or some usually foul-mouthed rap singer telling us to buy a car.

It was on the game. “All American” is what we called football because we were just so proud of the human talent on the football field. Although maybe we did try to sneak a few peeks at the cheerleaders, who have been replaced by big-money signing talent like the clichéd-singing Black Eyed Peas.

And that’s another thing. The Super Bowl commercials were not that great. In fact, some of them were stupid. Really stupid. Are we so mindless that when the Advertising World psyches us up with all that pre-promotion marketing that we’re afraid to admit the commercials suck?

The National Anthem is actually four stanzas, not the most popular one that we all sing. It was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as he watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British. A lot of American lives died there for our freedom. Not for a Bud Light. Not for a new car. And not for some aged rock star, Ozzy Ozbourne leering at a girly-faced Justin Bieber to promote some Best Buy buy-back program for cell phones and computers.

The Star Spangled Banner became the National Anthem in 1931. And when people sing it, they should be thinking about what it stands for not how it can be used to promote someone’s career or sell toilet paper.

You know what would be great for next year’s Super Bowl? Instead of singing the National Anthem, we have a Second Grade school teacher up on the TV screen walking the American people through the actual words of the National Anthem and discussing its real meaning and why it’s so important that we learn how to spell, we learn how to add and we learn to memorize correctly things that are important to this country.

Of course, getting the Chicago Bears to be in the Super Bowl would be another great idea, but they just stink.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and political media consultant.)

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