I am happy to report, however, that the Atlanta Falcons were not the big loser of the Super Bowl. (I mean, they're in the top two for sure. A 25-point lead on the cusp of the fourth quarter is supposed to be safe. But when they lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the handwriting was on the wall.)
But to complete the thought, and on the subject of our political troubles, the real loser Sunday night was nothing less than Trumpism, which was repudiated bigly -- not by women’s marches or federal judges or favorability poll numbers, but by the advertisers. Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Airbnb, Google Home, and -- of all unlikely antagonists -- 84 Lumber filled the very expensive airwaves with messages of ethnic diversity, immigrant dreams, generous open arms and multiculturalism. Yes, some of the biggest companies in the world spent fortunes to voice an alternative to the resentment, suspicion, fear, ignorance and blind hatred that brought Donald Trump to power.
And it began from the very first ad from Coke, to the song “America” stitched together in a dozen languages, showing citizens of many backgrounds, complexions, cultural attire just doing mundane American things from sea to shining sea. Tagline: “Together is Beautiful.”
Take that, you miserable bigots, dopes, alt-right mouthbreathers and Cypress Ranch (Texas) High School. As Keenan Wynn told Peter Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove": Watch your step or “You’re gonna have to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company.”
Airbnb and Google Home presented similar eyeshadow palettes of ethnicity and goodwill. By the third quarter, Steve Bannon was no doubt rending his brown shirt and choking on his Sauerbraten.
Now, let me just say there was no time in the previous 50 Super Bowls that such commercials would have been worth much than an eye roll. These “I'd like to teach the world to sing” exercises have always been saccharine, tokenistic and generally insufferable. “Kumbaya. Kumbaya. Buy _________! “ At their worst, they're exploitative and insincere. At their best, they are perfunctory and obvious.
Tragically, we are at a moment in history where 100 million viewers need to be reminded of our nation's core values of not tolerance but welcome, of ambitious new blood, of comity and cooperation and commonweal. Scoundrels and demagogues have preyed on bitterness and fear to unleash the worst impulses in tens of millions of our countrymen. They have slandered Americanism by calling it political correctness, and they have demonized immigrants by calling them threats.
The Constitution-thumping Republicans in Congress have lost their tongues, but look who's taking a stand.
In the Anheuser-Busch spot, we see a young man just off the boat from Germany in 1857, He is jostled in the streets and insulted, told to go back where he came from. He was Adolphus Busch.
Of course, historically, this is all baloney. Busch was no starry-eyed vagabond. But however fanciful the immigrant story, nobody watching the game could miss its relevance to our time. Likewise 84 Lumber, whose spot was explicitly intended to dramatize the inspiring and often heroic character of immigration -- in this case, a mother and daughter making the arduous journey from Mexico to the U.S. border, only to be confronted by a wall.
Actually, the wall never showed up on TV. You had to go looking at 84 Lumber's Web destination. And millions did, crashing the site for hours. But in the end, with the help of narrative magic and CGI, a wooden door appears in front of their eyes, and their destiny beckons.
This one's a puzzler, because the western Pennsylvania brand has owners who voted for Trump and a customer base that very much reflects Trump's demographic. But they also have a lot of Latino employees, and -- apparently -- an understanding what this country is built upon.
Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses -- your president wants to turn them away. Your national advertisers, on the other hand, seem to remember the American dream, before it became a nightmare.