The lead-up to the Super Bowl normally brims with discussion of the ads teased in advance online. This year, that conversation got drowned out by a string of insane political events. The only spots that broke through the Trumpian din in the days before the game were those that tackled immigration as a theme: one from Budweiser, another from a building supply company called 84 Lumber. After kickoff, the ads hardly fared better. Many spots played it safe, with wan jokes that felt even lamer than usual. Several were pointedly diverse, or about diversity, but even these sentiments—though preferable to the in-your-face machismo that occasionally surfaces in Super Bowl ads—felt inadequate to the current political moment.
And once again, in what’s become a trend in recent years, the game outshined the commerce that enfolded it. The Patriots’ epic comeback meant that ad breaks played second fiddle to the action on the field. I confess I half-rooted against my own team at times this season—given that the owner, coach, and quarterback are buddy-buddy with our cretinous new president—but I’ve concluded I can love the art without loving the artist. Enjoying a masterful Pats win is akin to appreciating the works of Ezra Pound.
Squarespace shows us famous actor John Malkovich battling with nonfamous fisherman John Malkovich over the rights to JohnMalkovich.com. It’s an odd sales pitch, in that Squarespace can help you build a web site but can’t actually aid you in wrestling a domain away from its current owner. I do, however, recommend checking out Malkovich’s menswear line if you’re into silk scarves, gabardine, and Mao collars.