It is the Super Bowl. In bars, church basements, and homes, we gather around screens to watch the top teams complete the season and claim a championship. (Congratulations, New England Patriots!) It is a national communal activity. Food enhances the activity and even those who don’t appreciate the game will watch for the cultural impact of the half-time show and/or the commercials.
The commercials this year, as commercials often do, are selling transformation.
P&G’s Always encourages you to rethink what you mean when you suggest anyone does anything “Like a Girl.” Toyota overlays Muhammad Ali’s “How Great I Am” upon the abilities and accomplishments of Paralympian Amy Purdy inviting you to consider fight and guts and grace to be found in a handicapable girl.
In the past, men can sometimes appear as the doofus of the household. Not this year, Dove Men+Care discusses “#RealStrength,” Nissan looks at the heroic father “With Dad” and Amy Purdy (again) talks of her own father’s influence on behalf of Camry.
McDonald’s announces that it is transforming the usual financial transaction for a Big Meal with the emotional transactions of their Pay With Lovin campaign. Fiat 500x has a (not that you want to share THAT story with young people, but still) funny commercial suggesting the transformational possibilities of Viagra getting into the gastank. And, youth ministers will appreciate the Subway transformative mash-up of Tough Mudder events and Dodgeball: Tough Dodger.
But, my favorite commercial was the Snickers’ version of the Brady Bunch. (Watch below) It believes in the transformational abilities of what we consume… which always reminds me of Eucharist. Considering the commercials from the Super Bowl, as a culture… WE BELIEVE IN THE POSSIBILITIES OF TRANSFORMATION. Seriously, pick any underdog story of a movie, like Rocky, just to check that theory.
Yet, we don’t always concede that faith, religion…. Ummm, even our relationship with God…. can be transformative. Yet it can. Pope Francis, in his Angelus over the past weekend reminded that the Gospel “does not oppress people; to the contrary: it frees those who are enslaved by the evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, of attachment to money, of pride, of sensuality… the Gospel changes our hearts, it transforms evil inclinations into good proposals. The Gospel is capable of changing people!”
Be open to change; be open to transformation.