Things You Should Include in a Super Bowl Ad To Make It Not Terrible

Super Bowl 47 is behind us, Ray Lewis will take the field nevermore, Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (briefly) awed, wings were consumed and the field of multimillion-dollar commercials sported a whole lot of mediocre offerings. At their best, the ads will be memes maybe through the rest of the week, at their worst; they were sexist or overly pandering. Taco Bell went with the cliché old-people-gone-wild approach. Dodge will probably get a lot of people talking about the “God Made A Farmer” spot, which, though beautifully done, making a very important point and featuring the beautiful, clear ringing voice of Paul Harvey, felt cheap and pandering at the end when it became about the truck. Also, it’s been done, and not as a car commercial.

And then there was the usual glut of gross, objectifying ads, which it’s sad that I even have to say “usual glut of gross, objectifying ads” in 2013 or at all, including Audi calling assaulting a woman “brave,” Axe Body Spray continuing to corner the douche market and GoDaddy surprising no one. Why do you actively want to pay lots of money to continue to be the absolute worst in front of millions of people, GoDaddy? Why?  It is 2013, there have been 47 Super Bowls, ads objectifying women and excusing sexual assault are a part of our collective largest cultural event and an expectation, and advertisers should know better than that. We can do better.

That said, not every Super Bowl commercial was completely terrible. Here are some things people put in their commercials that made them entertaining or effective without being sexist or cheapening an important point. See you next year.

I. Staged fights in unlikely places.

Not much to say about this one other than the Oreo library brawl commercial was the first ad of the whole night that I didn’t flat-out hate. There’s still a place for slapstick, and it’s a pretty typical device for Super Bowl spots, but it worked here.

II. Stars from recently departed or on-their-way-out NBC comedies.

Nothing like watching the soul-crushing circle-jerk of CBS touting their “most watched” status during the breaks thanks to awful, unfunny sitcoms like Two-and-a-Half Men and 2 Broke Girls to make you want to watch the programming of pretty much any other network.  Appropriately enough, two of the funniest ads of the night came from stars from NBC’s Thursday night lineup, the first in which National Treasure Amy Poehler made jokes about the word “dongle” for Best Buy and Twitter went crazy because Amy Poehler.

And then, for Americans still mourning the loss of 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan essentially reprised Tracy Jordan / played himself in a brief tribute to American ingenuity for Mio Fit sports drinks. “We didn’t like the shape of our chickens so we made them into nuggets!”

III. Baby pandas in spacesuits. 

This Kia Sorrento commercial that responded to “where do babies come from?” was a bit bizarre, but it did have smiling baby pandas in spacesuits, which is certainly an upgrade from those weird E-Trade talking baby commercials that dominated the space for a while. We’re moving up, people.

IV. “Landslide.”

The Budweiser Clydesdales have become as synonymous with the Super Bowl as the Lombardi trophy and Buffalo wings, so expectations (at least among people who pay attention to advertising things) are pretty high. Like many hyperemotional Super Bowl ads, this one was cheesy and using our emotions to sell us stuff, but it included two of the most wonderful and effective tug-at-the-heartstrings devices: interspecies friendships and “Landslide.” Mostly “Landslide.” For real, you could set one of those terrible Axe body spray commercials to “Landslide” and it would seem like there was actually a soul present in it.

V. Leon Sandcastle.

A lot of the ads about football during a football game were hokey or overdone, but Deion Sanders’ goofy “Leon Sandcastle” spot, wherein the NFL Network lampooned the hype machine it creates, was fun.

VI. Willem Dafoe as Satan.

Like most car commercials throughout the evening, the “Soul” spot for Mercedes-Benz was kind of dumb, but “Sympathy for the Devil” and a smirking Dafoe redeemed it. Someone needs to make a movie wherein Willem Dafoe plays the Devil. He’s already played Jesus. It only makes sense.

Before We Say Goodbye to ’30 Rock,’ One Final ‘Ask Tina’

Tonight, a nation will temper its feelings with night cheese and sob into its bottles of hill people milk. After seven seasons, 30 Rock is ending, and far more intelligent people have said far more intelligent things about this fact, but for now, I’ll say that like you, maybe, probably, I’m really gonna miss it, you guys. It was silly and it was fun and even if it wasn’t always perfect and Tina Fey isn’t a goddess to everyone, it got people to talk about women in comedy and how women and feminism are portrayed in comedy and perceived because of those portrayals and even on the Internet there were really important and relevant conversations happening. And what other show could get Oprah to guest-star as a sleeping-pill-induced hallucination? 

Before Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and the crew ride off into the glorious sunset that is eternal syndication, Fey returned to NBC for one last session of her fan-mail show, "Ask Tina" ("Memorize how old I look!"). In it, Fey discusses her affinity for Werthers Originals, differences from Liz Lemon and lists all the shows she’s excited to finally catch up on now that she’s done with her own show, from Homeland to Match Game ’72. Guess it’s never too late for now. 

Morning Links: Tracy Morgan Returns Home, Paula Deen’s Publicist Has Had Enough

● Tracy Morgan left the hospital and Utah yesterday, oxygen tank in tow. "Superman ran into a little Kryptonite today," he told TMZ, explaining that exhaustion and the altitude at Sundance had made him sick. [TMZ]

● Six long years of butter-dipped and bacon-wrapped antics later, Paula Deen’s publicist, Nancy Assuncao, has had enough. “Although we had a great deal of fun along the way, I could not agree with the new business strategy going forward." she said, hinting that Deen’s "dramatic turnabout" was just too much. [Page Six]

● Cynthia Nixon says that, for her, being gay "is a choice." "I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me," she explained. "Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?" [Huff Post]

● Ben Stiller and Jonathan Safran Foer are teaming up for a “politically, religiously, culturally, intellectually and sexually irreverent” Jewish family comedy at HBO. [THR]

● Diddy is working with a former MTV exec to launch an "urban skewed" music and music news television channel called Revolt. [Rap-Up]

● Epic Records big guy L.A. Reid confirmed yesterday on Twitter that, at long last, there is new Fiona Apple music on the way "in the next few weeks." [Pitchfork]

● A handful of Starbucks in Atlanta and Southern California will expand to sell beer and wine by year end. We also wouldn’t say no to bloody marys on the menu, if anyone was wondering. [Reuters]

Morning Links: Kristin Cavallari Is Pregnant, Tracy Morgan Hospitalized After Sundance Collapse

Laguna Beach‘s Kristin Cavallari and her on-again-off-again fiance, Jay Cutler, announced over the weekend that they are expecting their first child. [People]

● Turns out Swizz Beatz is not actually, officially the CEO of Megauploads, contrary to what the site’s "About Us" page says. According to MTV, they were in talks to make it official and they "put that up prematurely." Beatz is, regardless, "not walking away from this." [MTV]

● Tracy Morgan is recovering in the hospital after falling unconscious at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Drugs and alcohol were not involved, according to hospital spokesmen, although Morgan does have a history of diabetes and has undergone a kidney transplant. [People]

● Hot, young, "it" actors Dakota Fannings, Elizabeth Olsen, and Anton Yechin are in final talks to joing the Very Good Girls, a film about two best friends determined to lose their virginity the summer after their high school gradation. [Deadline]

● Miley Cyrus got a "hurrrr cut," and it’s very grown up looking. [E!]

● Kris Humphries relationship with his PR team lasted only one day more than his marriage. It’s a cold world, Hum Dum. [TMZ]

● After arriving (in polar fleece!) a fashionable four hours late to his own Sundance party, Drake asked first for “a massage and a grilled cheese.” [Page Six]

Morning Links: Amy Winehouse’s Father Penning a Memoir, Mischa Barton Poses with Raw Meat

● Beyoncé is due in February, assuming she’s due at all. [PopDust] ● An Ira Glass sex tape, in the style of This American Life. Nuff said. [A.V. Club] ● Amy Winehouse’s devoted dad is working on a “heartfelt and revelatory memoir” about his late daughter. Is a father-daughter tribute album to follow? [ArtsBeat/NYT]

● “I really like the music he’s putting out. I’m a fan of his stuff. I’ve always been a fan,” says Rihanna of former BF and assailant Chris Brown, sounding happy for his successes. [AP/Huff Post] ● Here are some pictures of Mischa Barton posing with raw meat all over her face, as inspired by a meal at In-and-Out burger, shot by Tyler Shields. [E!] ● Tracy Morgan figures that homophobic rant was all part of a day’s work. “I just think it was a misunderstanding, I was up there working,” he explained to David Letterman last night, apologizing only sort of. [Huff Post]

Morning Links: Charlie Sheen Settles With ‘Two & a Half Men,’ George Clooney Gets Married on TV

● Charlie Sheen’s suit with the producers of Two and a Half Men over the work he did before he went crazy is drawing to a close, with Sheen set to walk away with $25 million in the next two weeks and upwards up $100 million in the long run. [TMZ] ● The real victim of this Salahi/Journey scandal? The White House crasher’s doberman pinscher, Rio, who actually died. Tareq led the backyard procession yesterday, laying the poor dog to rest in peace with its favorite blanket. [TMZ] ● Tracy Morgan played it safe and made neither jokes nor homophobic statements while proposing to his model girlfriend, Megan Wallover. [NYDN]

● James Franco has announced plans to direct an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s gruesome novel Child of God, about a man who spends his life in a cave after being accused of rape. [Huff Post] ● This commercial for a Norwegian bank might be the only time you get to hear forever-bachelor George Clooney in a post-wedding day glow. [EW] ● That Jack White and Insane Clown Posse collaboration? It’s a love story! We think… [Stereogum]

Morning Links: Lauryn Hill’s Paternity Woes Continue, Beyoncé Working On a Cookbook

● “New Jersey is Third World,” ranted a drunk Tracy Morgan before adding that “the world is ghetto.” He’s probably not that impressed by your house, either. [Page Six] ● Lauryn Hill says that Rohan Marley, the father of her first five children, is not the father of her sixth. “We have had long periods of separation over the years but our five children together remain a joy to both of us,” she tweeted. [NYDN] ● Survey says men are most tired of hearing about Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, and Sarah Palin. Whereas women just can’t get enough of the Biebz: did you hear he took Selena to Hooters? You know, for the wings. [Us]

● Beyoncé is planning to put out a soul food cookbook with the help of who else but her dear friend and Goop publisher Gwyneth Paltrow. [NME] ● Paz de la Huerta thinks Amy Winehouse might’ve been fine had she just seen a few pretty pictures of herself. “She would have gotten more self esteem,” she said, “and not been so self-destructive.” [NYO] ● Prince William is battling a prematurely receding hair line. Jennifer Aniston thinks he should just go with it. Because why not. [E!]

Morning Links: Jennifer Aniston Trades Spinsterdom for Homewrecking, LiLo’s House-Arrest Party

● Jennifer Aniston might have gone and done that “uncool” homewrecking thing that Angelina Jolie once did to her. She can get the guy, but she can never win. [Page Six] ● Selena Gomez’s headache is gone! When asked about her hospitalization at a shopping mall appearance last night, she said, “I was just very malnourished, so I was low on iron and exhausted.” If she’s not hungry and tired is she even a star? [People] ● Looks like royal hot sister Pippa Middleton has been dumped. Which means, for all you yearning blokes, that yes, she’s single. But it’s hard to imagine she’ll settle for much less than a prince, no? [Ministry of Gossip/LAT]

● Over the weekend, Lindsay Lohan threw a lovely-sounding BBQ/Kardashian-screening party on her roof, and spent most of the evening perched on some boy’s lap. She’s under house arrest and on probation, but really, living the dream. [E!] ● Tracy Morgan tried to make things better by telling Russell Simmons that, “The truth is if I had a gay son, I would love him just as much as if he was straight.” Which is maybe an apology or maybe just something his publicist made him say. [GlobalGrind] ● AMC’s up and down drama The Killing has been picked up for a second season. [AMC]

What Kind of Impact Will Tracy Morgan’s Rant Have on His Career?

Those of us who weren’t at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium over the weekend missed 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan’s “homophobic rant” during a stand-up set, where he said, among other things, that he’d stab his son to death if he were gay. A full account of Morgan’s speech was posted to an audience member’s Facebook account, and man, it is dark. To make matters worse for Morgan, this was the Facebooker’s impression: “The sad thing is that none of this rant was a joke. His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us.” Will repercussions go beyond this news cycle?

Morgan has since issued an apology, and it goes a little something like this.

“I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.”

Okay, so Morgan did what he had to do by saying sorry, but now the question is: what’s the long-term fallout? Already, GLAAD has issued their requisite statement, saying, “We call on him to remove these violently anti-gay remarks from his show and send a strong message that anti-gay violence is not something to joke about.”

We can’t help but be reminded of the tragic tale of Michael Richards (Kramer on Seinfeld), whose own racist rant in a comedy club in 2006 effectively ended his brilliant career (that, and Seinfeld calling it quits). Not even a public mea culpa on Letterman and a guest stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm spoofing the whole thing could save him. Richards has vanished from the public eye, the negative impressions of him to strong to reverse.

Obviously, Morgan won’t suffer the same fate. He has a far raunchier persona than Richards, and risque homophobic material isn’t far from his character on 30 Rock‘s wheelhouse. Tracy Jordan is a provocative clown, and so is Tracy Morgan. No one is under the illusion that Tracy Morgan is a politically correct personality, and his brazenness transcends his act. Anyone who’s listened to one of his many appearances on The Howard Stern Show knows just how shocking Jordan can get. And it’s not shtick. That’s who he is. This is the same guy who called Sarah Palin “good masturbation material” on national TV during a basketball game. While he was sober. The Nashville incident nicked a nerve because it was spewed in a climate increasingly, and rightfully, more sensitive to gay bashing. And because it wasn’t funny.

The only real threat to Morgan’s standing in the showbiz community is his boss and professed “girl” Tina Fey. As Entertainment Weekly points out, Fey is “a well known LGBT advocate.” Hmm, tricky. Her reps have yet to comment on the situation, and probably never will, although Fey might at some point face questions about continuing to work with someone who has expressed the views Morgan has, apology or not. Whether Morgan believes what he said — and maybe he does — is irrelevant. For now, Morgan’s career as a popular TV star is safe, for as long as Tina Fey says it is.