At the Super Bowl, Nostalgia’s the Only Game

On the Tremendous Bowl, Nostalgia’s the Solely Recreation

“That is the millennium of Aftermath.” When Dr. Dre rapped that line on “Forgot About Dre,” from his 1999 album “2001,” he was referring to his document label. However from the vantage level of the 2022 Super Bowl, the place he headlined the halftime show, it was additionally a reasonably correct forward-looking assertion.

The massive sport, its spectacles, its adverts and its trappings all shared a way of wanting backward — a nostalgia-saturated perspective that we have been residing within the aftermath of the most effective occasions, and that it was extra comforting to look to the previous than to the long run.

This isn’t a knock on Dr. Dre, or the incendiary legends-of-hip-hop show he placed on. For the sport to lastly heart America’s largest music style in entrance of America’s largest viewers was overdue and thrilling.

However the calendar doesn’t lie. The Tremendous Bowl, as a rule, discovers music when that music’s viewers discovers high-fiber diets, and the value of admission was realizing that this revolutionary soundtrack was now dad’s treadmill workout playlist. Snoop Dogg commanded the midfield stage, cool and resplendent in a blue bandanna tracksuit; that afternoon he had hosted the Puppy Bowl with Martha Stewart.

Keep in mind-when was in every single place at Tremendous Bowl LVI, an occasion that counts off the ceaseless march of time in its very title. It was even on the sphere, the place the Los Angeles Rams received the championship carrying “modern throwback” uniforms, a preferred manner for the N.F.L. to hark again to its glory days. (Soccer itself is a cultural throwback, actually, its TV broadcasts being the final vestige of the mass-media period when People nonetheless watched the identical TV exhibits on the identical time.)

Most years, the host TV community makes use of the largest present of the 12 months to advertise certainly one of its flagship applications. This 12 months, NBC spotlighted “Bel-Air,” the brand new teen drama on its streaming sibling Peacock, impressed by the ’90s sitcom “The Recent Prince of Bel-Air.”

By itself, “Bel-Air,” within the three episodes that premiered Sunday, is a superbly serviceable rendition of the outsider-comes-to-Richville cleaning soap theme (“The O.C.,” “Our Sort of Folks”). However it might be fully unremarkable if not for the references to its supply materials and its well-known theme tune, which stand out like Will Smith’s Day-Glo fashions from the unique.

The brand new Will (Jabari Banks) is certainly from West Philadelphia — “born and raised,” he makes a degree of claiming within the pilot, which additionally features a cab sporting cube from its mirror, in addition to a few guys, as much as no good, making hassle in Will’s outdated neighborhood.

There are some genuinely fascinating reinventions within the new model, notably the character of cousin Carlton (Olly Sholotan), right here imagined as a toddler of Black wealth stricken by his mother and father’ expectations and the strain of holding his social place at his (largely white) non-public college.

However any makes an attempt to differentiate the brand new collection are drowned out by reminders of the outdated one. And in an period bloated with TV reboots and revivals, the reminders are the purpose — as underlined by the promos wherein Smith reprises the theme song with a forged of worldwide followers.

The previous was in every single place within the Tremendous Bowl adverts. Essentially the most attention-getting spot of the evening was a virtually shot-for-shot remake of the opening credit of one other turn-of-the-century icon that, like Dre, represented for gangsters all internationally: “The Sopranos.”

This model, directed by the “Sopranos” creator David Chase, starred Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who performed the Mafia daughter Meadow Soprano, and the brand new electrical Chevrolet Silverado. Tony Soprano’s cigar was changed by a lollipop; the World Commerce Heart towers by One World Commerce; the high-voltage cost of James Gandolfini’s harmful swagger by an electric-vehicle charging station.

It was a curious tribute to a collection that after advised us, via Tony, that “‘Keep in mind when’ is the bottom type of dialog.” However “keep in mind when” can also be large enterprise, in leisure — final 12 months gave us a “Sopranos” prequel film — and in promoting.

The job of Tremendous Bowl adverts has at all times been to discover a cultural lingua franca, the vein of comedy or emotion that may converse equally to younger and outdated, city and rural, inside a huge TV viewers. Thus we have now met a menagerie of speaking animals, develop into acquainted with the Budweiser Clydesdales and heard from a number of movie star endorsers.

More and more, our solely widespread floor is previously. The current second is just too polarizing — see Eminem’s recalling N.F.L. racism protests by taking a knee. Or it’s too fragmented, divided amongst area of interest stars and area of interest pursuits.

Thus we bought Mike Myers reprising the “Austin Powers” function of Dr. Evil for Common Motors, whereas Jim Carrey resurrected his “Cable Man” character for Verizon. Thus Anna Kendrick used retro Barbie and He-Man figures to elucidate home-buying in a Saturday morning children’ advert parody for Rocket Houses and Rocket Mortgage.

As soon as, advert campaigns might unite an viewers not simply by returning to the previous however by promising a glittering future. However now the long run is complicated — see all of the adverts for cryptocurrency — or scary. Samuel Adams beer tried to show these viral Boston Dynamics robots into occasion animals somewhat than foot troopers from a “Black Mirror” episode. And implicit within the sport’s many electrical automotive adverts was the specter of local weather disaster. (The current’s not so superior both, as represented by a dystopian advert for the Cue dwelling Covid check.)

That could be why Meta, in the most unintentionally disturbing ad of the evening, supplied the metaverse of tomorrow as a manner of reclaiming a vanished previous, with the sort of pitch-dark melancholy often reserved for the weepiest Pixar films.

An animatronic canine finds itself on the junk heap after the Chuck E. Cheese-like restaurant the place it carried out goes out of enterprise. Saved from the trash compactor, it’s placed on show at an area heart, the place somebody slides a set of virtual-reality goggles onto its head. Contained in the metaverse, its decrepit physique is reborn. There’s the outdated restaurant, and its animal bandmates, and an viewers! Alone at midnight foyer, the canine jams and howls with delight. Any individual desires it once more, if solely in its head.

That is the long run we are able to all stay up for, the advert says: changing into outmoded and discarded, damaged in a damaged world. However Meta could possibly be a digital palliative, a cyber-hospice, a psychological escape to a time once you understood the world and felt beloved. It’s miserable, but it surely rings true. In any case, Fb, whence Meta sprang, each destabilized the society of the current and functioned as a sort of everlasting picture album and 24/7 class reunion.

Even the soundtrack is completely backward-looking. The advert ends to the swell of the Easy Minds hit “Don’t You (Neglect About Me),” a nostalgia artifact itself, endlessly related to the Gen X touchstone “The Breakfast Membership.”

In my day — once I noticed the film in a theater, shopping for my ticket with a nickel that had a bumblebee on it — the tune voiced the fervour and hope of John Hughes’s teen-misfit characters on the verge of maturity. In 2022, with these characters, like me, now within the goal demographic for the Tremendous Bowl’s nonstop appeals to yesteryear, “Don’t you overlook” sounds much more like a command.

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