I always look forward to the Super Bowl commercials, because they provide a snapshot of what my schlub brethren have been up to in the past year. Are they still all about inventing clever contraptions to cheat each other out of beer? Still scoping out hot chicks, despite their involvement with an improbably hot wife and/or girlfriend? Still put out with that improbably hot wife and/or girlfriend's demands that they go shopping and attend chick flicks? Still working in that same ratty old office, and spending lunch breaks talking about the latest fast food items? Still taking on animal form–perhaps as a party-happy dog–like the tricksters of folklore?

Well, schlubkind was out in force during the commercial breaks of this year's game, but there was something a little different about the herd. Sure, they were still screwing each other over for brew and hitting each other and becoming overcome with gay panic. And yes, even as apes, crabs and lions, the shape-shifting schlub still obsesses over beer and tacos. But this year they were frequently joined by distaff schlubs, either tripping all over themselves or being beset by half-naked guys. There was even a Revlon ad, for cryin' out loud. And this year was even more office-bound than usual, reflecting anxieties about job performance and obsolescence and unconvential work spaces and an insurgent Robert Goulet. (Another recurring theme: We Care About Black People!)

What's become of the once-proud schlub? Have they been reduced to fretting over hair loss and lack of proper pee control? What happened to you, man? You used to be beautiful.

*****

Obligatory note about the best ads: Coke's two ads that have been in theaters since last year (the videogame and the magic machine) are still really impressive, and I loved the aforementioned Goulet and sad robot ads (for Emerald Nuts and GM, respectively). The beatyourrisk.com spot about disease beating up a heart, Matrix-style was kind of cool, and I liked FedEx's suitable names gag and the E-Trade "one finger" bit. But my absolute favorite? Mapasaurus!

Least favorite: Jay-Z beats Don Shula in virtual football. That shit just ain't right.

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