Saturnalia Saturnalia by Ernesto Biondi (1909). Photo: Roberto Fiadone.

During the darkest days of winter, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia. For a week or so every year the rules of proper behavior were thrown the hell out. Wine was swilled. Breasts were groped. Meat was ripped from the bone. And it was okay, as long as people got back to work on Monday.

In the middle ages, this orgy was called the Feast of Fools.

Today we call it the Super Bowl, a celebration that each year seems to focus less and less on the gladiatorial exercise at the center of the circus, and more and more on the gaudy display of political incorrectness and combative excess represented by the 30-second television spots that are now the stars of the show.

And ironically, the more social our media gets, the more excessive all of this becomes.

The public and the marketers that feed them have latched on to the Super Bowl as a celebration of a never-really-was world where men were men, women were objects and advertising agencies were, well, potent.

Now, please don’t confuse these observations with consent. All I can say is this. You can sneer at the sophomoric humor of Doritos, wonder haughtily if Heintz is promoting the consumption of real dogs, or note that Hyundai’s First Date was a stale joke in the 1950s. Just know, for this one day at least, nobody cares.

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