Dave Zirin on Super Bowl Militarism, Corporatism, Offensive Ads, Objectifying Women


Announcer: Welcome back to The David Pakman
Show. David: Welcome back to the show. David Pakman
here. Want to remind you, we have a special membership promotion, we mentioned it last
week. Last week was my birthday, so we have set up www.DavidPakman.com/birthday. And Louis
just loves this thing. He has… how many memberships are you up to at this point? Louis: I think around 250,000. David: [Laughs] Great. So– that many, huh? Louis: Yup. David: www.DavidPakman.com/birthday. And the
prices are linked to my age as well, which I know Louis particularly likes. Louis: Do I? David: www.DavidPakman.com/birthday. People
taking advantage of it left and right. Let’s pick up with my interview with Dave Zirin,
we did it just before the start of the show. Here he is talking to us first about the militarism
that was part of the Superbowl, then we’ll go on, talk about the Tibet ad, and much more. Dave Zirin: There was a flyover. There were
Marines who marched out to midfield. David: I missed the flyover. Zirin: Sorry. You didn’t miss a lot. There
was also a reading of the Declaration of Independence, which I thought was kind of bizarre. There
was “America the Beautiful” also sung by that twit from “Glee”, and there was Christina
Aguilera doing, you know, her best Judy Garland impersonation and imploding on national television
in what otherwise… David: This is brilliant, because you know
what? I actually have become so desensitized to the fact that the Marines hold the flags
that it completely went over my head. And you’re absolutely right, I just missed it. Zirin: There was also the celebration of a
Medal of Honor winner at one point during the game. There were several shots of the
troops back in Afghanistan and Iraq. And you know, as far as corporatism, I mean, just
the packaging of all of these commercials that depend very heavily on selling women’s
bodies, $3 million for 30 seconds. Now, let me be clear about something here.
It’s… I watched the Superbowl with people from Iraq Veterans Against the War, every
year, they do a demilitarized Superbowl party. And I was talking with them a lot about what
we were seeing, and the problem is not that there are troops watching the games, obviously,
that’s not the problem. The problem is that it’s all put together in the same package,
like you can’t separate the camera lingering on Kim Kardashian’s body to sell some product
or another and then the shots of the troops. I mean, it’s all sort of woven together in
one large tapestry that says join the Army, sex, rock and roll, the Superbowl, flyovers…
I mean, it’s like it’s the same way you can’t separate “Top Gun” from Tom Cruise getting
to sleep with Kelly McGillis. I mean, it’s all the same kind of package. And this is
what upset the troops who I was watching it with so much, because they, as they said over
and over again to me, this is about exploiting the soldiers for the purposes of selling a
war. David: We talked a little bit earlier on my
show about the Groupon Tibet ad. Zirin: Yeah. David: My initial instinct when I saw it was
I’m… I think it’s not tasteful, but it’s bringing something to light that normally
wouldn’t even be mentioned in the Superbowl. I talked to some people after that, and I
completely disagree with myself at this point. Zirin: Yeah. David: And I think that it was a huge mistake.
I think it was… it’s not… the negative completely outweighs the positive. Give me
your take. Zirin: Yeah, and keep in mind that that was…
there was a second one of those Groupon ads that took place after the Superbowl which
I thought gave away the game even more, which was Elizabeth Berkley, the model who’s a little
bit past her best days, to be kind, speaking about the problem, as she put it, of “deforestization”,
and there are all these shots of the destruction… do you know the one I’m talking about? David: I didn’t see it, but I heard about
it, yeah. Zirin: Yeah. All these shots of the destruction
of the Amazon rainforest, and then she sort of did her sort of or, you can get involved
with Groupon and we could all get Brazilian waxes. That’s another deforestation problem.
And I think that more aggressively… I can understand your confusion about the Tibet
thing, to be frank with you, but I feel like the Elizabeth Berkley one gives away the game
a little bit more, is that what it’s really about, it’s not in any way, shape, or form
opening anybody’s eyes to these things, it’s about mocking people who care about these
things. It’s sort of a big dig at kind of, they would call, political correctness. David: And what do we do? I mean, if the consensus
is that these are offensive ads, I mean, can anything be done? Is it just listen, if you
want to watch the Superbowl, this is what it is, there’s no one to complain to, the
FCC doesn’t legislate content, and that’s just it, either you watch it or you don’t? Zirin: Well, and we know from history that
the NFL and the networks, they’re very politically selective as far as the ads that they do choose
to put on the air, having refused a series of liberal issue ads over the years but having
Tim Tebow on last year as part of an ad for Focus on the Family. And I think honestly,
what you’re doing right now, David, is the most positive thing that we can do, which
is talk seriously about what these ads are and what they represent in the aftermath. Because otherwise, I think people sort of
do one of two things: either it normalizes the fact that things like the rainforests
or Tibet are things to be mocked and people accept that, or people who do understand something
about the fact of deforestation or what’s happening in Tibet develop calluses about
it, and develop calluses about these ads, and just sort of grit their teeth and cush
their way through it. I also think that’s how most people deal with things like the
Ronald Reagan tribute before the game, the flyover, the Marines, the militarism, all
these different things. I think most people when they see these things just sort of grit
their teeth and bear it, but I’m for talking about it. David: And the callus concept is absolutely
right, because I talk about this every day on the show, and even I thought that, when
I just saw that Marines were holding flags, it didn’t even occur to me maybe somebody
else would hold the flag. It was just part of the context, it didn’t even become… and
you’re right, I’m as much of a victim of it as anybody else. Zirin: And you know, when the Marines have
been in the news the most in recent months was they were the one branch of the armed
forces that objected to the overturning of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And so even the fact
that they were the branch of the armed forces that were chosen to hold the flag, I mean,
all of these things have a back story. And we don’t get the back story, but I think we
do have a responsibility to try to take it apart and talk about it openly. David: Can you talk real quick in the last
minute or two we have here, the Green Bay Packers and their system of team ownership
is fascinating to me, and the size of the market that they come from, and if we’re actually,
if we’re going to talk about Barack Obama being a socialist or a Communist, ideas that
we dismiss at face value, can you actually put in context for our audience, who may not
be familiar with what goes on in Green Bay, what goes on there? Zirin: Sure, absolutely. I mean, the Green
Bay Packers are the only not-for-profit, community-owned team in the NFL. Actually, they’re the only
one in all major sports in the United States. And I’m asked sometimes who’s the best owner
in sports, I always say the 112,000 owners of the Green Bay Packers. And Green Bay is
a city of only slightly over 100,000 people, period. And the reason why the team has been
able to sustain itself, and now it has more titles than any other team in the last 50
years and is the 2011 Superbowl Champion, is not in spite of its ownership structure,
but I would argue it’s because of its ownership structure. And this is very threatening to Roger Goodell.
You know, this unique ownership structure, and remember, like I said, it’s the only team
that’s run as a non-profit in the NFL, it was not mentioned once during the broadcast.
And it was very weird, like if you think of previous Superbowls, there are constantly
shots of the owner in the box sort of fretting nervously about the game and talk about everything
the owner went through to get there, so all this back story about the owners that’s woven
through the game. They didn’t mention the Green Bay owners once, and because of that,
they then chose, I guess because they thought it would be awkward, to not mention the Rooney
family once. And they’re the the most historic ownership group, ownership family in all of
the NFL, the Rooney family is. So it was a fascinating production choice, whether it
was by Fox or whether by the NFL or Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, although I don’t frankly
give them any agency in regards to making this decision. David: No. Zirin: It says something that they want to
hide this truth from us, particularly this year when the players are facing this kind
of a lockout, and fans are facing the prospect of not having the NFL in fall 2011. The last
thing they want to do is celebrate a team whose very existence points to the fact that
NFL franchises don’t exactly need billionaire monomaniacal owners. David: Absolutely. And Dave Zirin, we’re out
of time. We, definitely as we get more information about the potential lockout, I want to have
you back to talk about that. Zirin: Yes. David: Thanks so much for joining us on short
notice. Zirin: Oh, my privelege, David. David: All right, thanks to Dave Zirin. Always
fascinating to talk to him, he’s got great insights on this stuff, and he just really
digs into it, huh? Louis: Yeah, yeah. And you know what? I have
to agree with you, you’re right, I didn’t really notice the whole military thing either.
Just part of the package. David: It’s true, yeah. Louis: It’s just like, it’s the same every
year. David: I mean, I went in planning to make
note of all of the type of militaristic, corporate stuff that we saw, other than obviously the
ads, and some of the ones he mentioned just went over my head. Louis: Yeah. But there was one, there was…
I think before you got there, there was an ad, I guess it was an ad, it was incredibly
long, and it just showed all these football players with soldiers and different people
in different places, and it was just a… I think, I guess, an overall American thing
in which they recited… what, they were reciting… I don’t remember… David: Oh, it was the Declaration of Independence. Louis: Yeah, yeah, yeah. David: Yeah, right, right. No, I read about
that. Louis: Yeah. That one… David: It’s just becoming part of the background,
yeah, you’re absolutely right. Louis: That one was very in-your-face, but
everything else was pretty mellow. Transcript provided by Alex Wickersham and
www.Subscriptorium.com. For transcripts, translations, captions, and subtitles, or for more information,
visit www.Subscriptorium.com, or contact Alex at [email protected]

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