In yesterdays On The Square, El Jefe offers an admittedly ambivalent musing on the disappearance of a once-unified culture, captured by the once-popular, Whats My Line?
Dorothy Kilgallen was a perennial presence on that shows panel and since I murdered her in a TV series a while back; forcing her to drink copious amounts of vodka at gunpoint, I should probably recuse myself from weighing in.
I would, however, point to a headline in yesterdays Variety that suggests a kind of unityor perhaps yearning for itlatent in the storys statistics, There’s no stopping the NFL, as NBC’s season opener of “Sunday Night Football” drew the highest overnight score for a Week 1 primetime game in 13 years.
I should also mention that Thursday nights game between defending lords of the ring, New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, led by Brett Favre, drew the biggest primetime audience for an NFL game in 12 years. In fact, fans in Favres former home town of Green Bay tuned in at a 33 sharefive points higher than the overall number, demonstrating the enduring magnetism of footballs grey gunslinger.
On top of this, the league was facing competition from such glittering cultural gems as the MTV Music Awards and HBOs erotic gore fest, True Blood as well as ratings bully, CSI Miami . Why then the big numbers?
Maybe, in a time of such toxic rancor and hyper-extended subjectivism, there is a yearning for something simpler, truersomething gloriously free from interpretation and posturing. Footballs rules are fairly straightforward. When a field goal is attempted, the ball either goes through the uprights or it doesnt. And despite the emotions surrounding Calvin Johnsons non-touchdown in Sundays Lions-Bears game, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 4 held and the matter was unequivocally settled.
Its also quite a thing to look at the screen and see people who truly deserve to be there. Here Im talking in terms of raw performance, not off-field antics.
Then theres the pleasure of watching individuals of different races and religions working together in a common purpose, embracing each other in the good moments and exhorting each other through the tougher ones.
In a weekend marked by a somber anniversarywith a creepy parade of book-burning pastors, cagey imams, race-hypocrites and compulsive finger-pointers swelling audiences eager for the discipline, excellence, camaraderie and fun on display in the opening of the NFL season suggest a yearning for that unified culture even in this micro form. It was a tonic I know I was thirsty for.