The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Stupor Bowl

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 Stupor Bowl
Stupor Bowl

Stupor Bowl

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. However I have read some ofthe reactions to it written by various commentators, and I’venoticed that something really bizarre has occurred. It’s notoften that people on seemingly opposite sides of an argument end upsaying the same thing, but that happened this week.

Thanks to a commentary we have by one Brigitte Schn, an Austrianwoman who works as a translator for international conferences.Apparently, clips from the Super Bowl were shown on European newsshows, as part of stories on the Janet Jackson incident.Schn’s piece explains the reaction to the incident among manyEuropeans:

“European children do after birth see a lot of nakedfemale breasts for quite a while. Apart from that, they see a lotof naked female breasts in films, on TV, on billboards and onpublic beaches while they grow up. So seeing naked breasts is nobig deal. Are European children as a result more violent thanAmerican children? Are they more prone to becoming criminals forthat reason? Are they more disturbed? Not that I knowof.”

According to Schn, something deeply disturbing did happen duringthe Super Bowl: a flag-waving display of nationalism. Such displaysremind many Europeans not only of the fascism of the 1930s and1940s, but also the unthinking conformity that led an entiregeneration to die for the quarrels of rich men in the World War I(Austria’s war on terror), among other conflicts. Apparently,a German presenter pointed out that Jackson’s partial nuditywas scandalous in “Puritan America.”

It certainly was for some. Rebecca Hagelin is the vice presidentof the Heritage Foundation, one of those right-wing organizationsthat claims to promote things like “limited government”and “personal freedom” while simultaneously desiring toplace government power into bedrooms and bookstores.

She agreed with a friend who referred to the show (including thecommercials) as “cultural terrorism.” Her fellowreactionary, Joseph Farah, seemed to concur, and he went a stepfurther. He claims that the spectacle reminded him of something onewould find in both Ancient Rome and in Germany immediately beforethe rise of Hitler.

Think about that. When he compared the Super Bowl to a fascistevent, Mr. Farah was referring to the event’s decadence, notthe display of nationalism that many Europeans (and others) foundso frightening. After I had read these three reactions, I initiallydid not know what to make of them. I sometimes feel like I’mliving in the Weimar Republic, but for a long time I’ve feltthat if fascism ever came to America it would bear littleresemblance to Nazi Germany. It would instead be very American. Inother words, it would arrive at the hands of people like Hagelinand Farah.

In the 1930s, the novelist Sinclair Lewis demonstrated similarfeelings in a book called It Can’t Happen Here, andpolitician Huey Long said on separate occasions that Americanfascism would arrive “wrapped up in the American flag”and “in the guise of anti-fascism.” Both ofLong’s quotes are relevant to progressives like myself,though right-wingers have sometimes used the second.

After thinking it over some more, it made sense. Hagelin andFarah don’t get it. They champion corporate crony capitalism,only to recoil in dismay in which they see the results of a societywhere everything has become a commodity. There’s a solutionfar more positive than anything these folk propose. I hate thetrash on MTV these days as much as they do, for some of the samereasons, so I listen to The Smashing Pumpkins, Richard Thompson andAimee Mann. I can’t stand most of Hollywood’s products,but I loved I Capture the Castle and Donnie Darko. The formerreceived a ludicrous “R” rating in America due entirelyto a couple of scenes of non-sexual nudity. The latter, as a smallpart of its plot, depicts two high-school students in a thoroughlypositive relationship that presumably becomes sexual. Hagelindevotes many column inches to the topic of abstinence education.But perhaps she’s unaware of the Dutch sex-education program,which has resulted in some of the lowest rates of teenagepregnancy, STDs, abortions and such compared with other richcountries.

There’s an alternative to the crass commercialism seenduring this year’s Super Bowl, and it isn’t thesex-negative Puritanism of American reactionaries.

When Joseph Farah refers to a fascist America, is it a warningor a threat?

 

Scott Charney is a senior history and English major. He is abi-weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He may be reachedat [email protected].

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