Michael Deeds: Here come Super Bowl surprises?

10 years after “Nipple-gate,” will Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers behave on TV?

February 2, 2014 

It’s likely that halftime entertainment and commercials during today’s Super Bowl will be overshadowed by the calculated shenanigans of Seattle Seahawks loudmouth Richard Sherman.

Still, we can hope.

The combination of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, not to mention the cranium-crushing barrage of amped-up ads, appears to have substantial entertainment potential.

This depends, of course, on what you find entertaining.

It’s been a decade since Justin Timberlake unleashed Janet Jackson’s world-changing nipple during their (obviously staged) halftime debacle, earning CBS a $550,000 fine from the dependably outraged FCC.

This cultural milestone, as others have noted, makes the Chili Peppers a head-scratching choice by the “family-friendly” NFL. This is a male rock group whose members spent their early career performing all but naked, coining the term “strategically placed tube sock.” Supporting the adage that growing older is inevitable and growing up is a choice, Chili Peppers bassist Flea, 51, recently tweeted “Anybody wanna see my **** at the Super Bowl?” (Bonus Sunday crossword hint: He used a word for “rooster.”)

The tweet was deleted, ostensibly when he realized that a man named Flea might be better off not attempting to impress everyone with his reproductive organs. But it lingered long enough to make the perspiring suits at NFL headquarters feel queasy, no doubt. Remember, this is the same NFL that sued rapper M.I.A. $1.5 million for exposing her middle finger during Madonna’s 2012 halftime show.

Bruno Mars, on the other hand, is a consummate entertainer and a global superstar. Granted, he’ll take the halftime spotlight underappreciated, if not entirely unknown, by older viewers. If he’s perspicacious (that’s a Sherman-approved word, crossword folks), Mars will unleash his funky, retro-mainstream smash “Locked Out of Heaven.” That funky, chart-topping track will even entice your grandpa to breakdance.

But Mars could go rogue on the NFL. This is a pop star who won his first Grammy and pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in a four-day span. And much of Mars’ music is sexually charged, including “Locked Out of Heaven,” which my young sons still innocently believe is about a saxophone taking us to paradise.

Even Mars’ kicked-back No. 1 hit “The Lazy Song” — arguably THE song of summer 2012 — might be too risque for the NFL. As an SB Nation blogger making similar points recently noted, it “centers on laying in bed, watching TV and masturbating.”

Far be it from me to tell you how to watch the Super Bowl. Just be sure to make time for the ads. The coolest thing about Super Bowl commercials is that they aren’t commercials in the traditional sense. They’re attention-grabbing devices to get us talking.

Unfortunately, the surprise has been corrupted. Many companies now run teasers weeks in advance of their $4 million-per-30-seconds spots. Others release the ads online in their entirety — which isn’t always a fun thing for viewers who can’t resist peeking.

When Kia’s “Matrix”-inspired ad airs today, I’ll go outside and toss a football for a minute or two. As a fan of the movie, it saddens me seeing Morpheus as a stout, opera-singing car salesman. (The blue pill or the red pill? Dude, we’ll need better pharmaceuticals than that to get through this bout of depression you’ve caused.)

Each year, I cross my fingers that GoDaddy.com will deliver its usual sexist Danica Patrick schlock. That way, we have something to mock loudly after our third beer. But this year’s ad will feature male bodybuilders instead of sexy women. Patrick wears a ridiculous muscle suit.

Yet there are certain companies you can count on. Who didn’t brush away a tear in 2013 during Budweiser’s mini-movie about a Clydesdale’s lifetime bond with its owner?

Anheuser-Busch has added a puppy to its Clydesdale ad campaign this year. But again, the ad is already online — and, as good as it is, it’s not quite as touching as last year’s.

Ultimately, the whole Super Bowl entertainment enchilada seems destined to fall short of our sky-high expectations.

Mars and the Chili Peppers most likely will behave themselves. Plenty of the commercials will fall into the “meh” category. In other words, it’s setting up nicely for Seattle’s self-promotional cornerback to take advantage.

I don’t dislike Sherman. He’s been adopted by ESPN as the new Tim Tebow — someone they can’t go 30 seconds without mentioning. He exploited it — yes, rather perspicaciously.

But I’ve had my fill. I’d rather hear anything besides Sherman spouting off after the game — and then ESPN host Stuart Scott making cheesy puns about it for the next month. And there’s only one way to guarantee it doesn’t happen.

Go. Denver. Broncos.

Besides, watching the so-called “Legion of Boom” cry its way back to Seattle? Now that would be quality entertainment.


Tim Johnstone and I will play new spoofs of Nine Inch Nails and the Chili Peppers, plus more serious tracks from The Hold Steady, Silversun Pickups and lots more.

“The Other Studio” airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.


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- Two art shows in Boise take a look at love.

Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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