(Originally posted on ZNet, February 5, 2012)
My e-mail in-box this morning contained an interesting invitation from the low-cost bus-line Megabus: a reduced-rate fare from Iowa City to Indianapolis, home to the 2012 Super Bowl this Sunday. “Going to the Super Bowl?” the add reads: “Let Megabus be your designated driver to Indianapolis for the big game. Whether you are rooting for the Giants or the Patriots, Megabus will get you there safely. Megabus.com offers rates as low as $1 (plus 50 cts. booking fee).”
What is Megabus thinking? Do they imagine that their typical riders (myself included) are members of the 1%? The average Super Bowl ticket broker is charging $4,000 a seat and your typical Indianapolis hotel is running at 5 bills a night. Super Bowl suites fitting 35 to watch the game in style at Lucas Oil Stadium have been selling for a quarter million dollars – roughly $21,500 per person. Can Megabus get its riders a break on Maxim’s Super Bowl tailgate party, priced at $600 per person to schmooze with Tony Siragusa and Guy Fieri? How about the $1500 that Heff is charging for the Playboy party?
Sorry, but it ain’t me. I’m no Fortunate Son. The Super Bowl is a rich man’s game. It is also a major annual gathering spot for the global super-rich and famous.
There will be more people arriving to the sacred national and global corporate sporting event by climatologically disastrous private jets than (with a much lower carbon footprint) by Megabus, Trailways, and Greyhound combined. According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal:
“For the private jet business, the Super Bowl is the, well, Super Bowl of private jet rentals.”
“Every year, like monarch butterflies to Mexico, a swarm of private jets descends on the big game to unload the rich and powerful football fans. There’s no tailgating under the tail fins, or downing buffalo wings on the wing of the G550. But for some reason, private-jetting and football have always gone well together for February’s big game.”
“The question is whether the current rage against the rich, and general lack of public support for private jet-setters, will put a damper on this year’s Citation migration.”
“Last year set a new record, more than 600 private jets landed near Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. That topped the 2010 record of about 400 at the game in Phoenix.”
“So far, it looks like the match-up between the Giants and Patriots will set a new record. The private-jet companies are already touting their huge orders and inquiries. PlaneClear based in Long Island City, said it’s been ‘flooded with booking inquiries’ from Giant fans traveling in large groups of 10 or more.”
“Magellan Jets put out the word that it’s ready to ‘accommodate the travel needs of football fans around the world.’”
“‘They say half the fun is getting there, so let us make your trip to Super Bowl XLVI almost as pleasurable as seeing your favorite team take home football’s greatest prize,’ Magellan announced today.”
“CitationAir said that avid football fans who don’t want to risk missing the game for winter-travel delays should definitely consider private-jetting.”
“To ensure that unpredictable winter weather doesn’t ruin game-day plans, and to avoid wasting countless hours at the airport, many football fans will rely on private air travel.”
I was in fact thinking of going to Indianapolis this weekend. Not to see the game (which I can’t afford anyway), but to support Indiana unions who have organized an “Occupy the Super Bowl” movement against the Republican-ruled Indiana state government’s recent passage of a vicious, anti-labor “right to work” (RTW) bill. The law makes Indiana the first state in more than ten years to enact RTW and “the only one in the Midwestern manufacturing belt to have such a law” (the New York Times, February 1, 2011). “For those uninitiated in Orwellian doublespeak,” David Zirin notes, “‘Right to Work’ means smashing the state’s unions and making it harder for non-union workplaces to get basic job protections.” The bill was pushed through by right-wing business interests, including the nefarious mega-billionaire Koch brothers who helped provoke the public worker uprising in Wisconsin last February by pressing Scott Walker to abolish public workers’ right to collective bargaining in that state.
If I go to Indianapolis, however, it will be about more than the legislation. Activists, workers, and citizens should also think about going to get in the face of the vicious, narcissistic 1% (and .05%, and .005% and .0025%) aristocrats who have done so much to turn this nation and world into a toxic dungeon of poverty, eco-cide, mass incarceration, militarism, plutocracy, and police-state authoritarianism. And to bear witness against the crass spectacle of conspicuous consumption and gross, corporate-sponsored commercialism that the Super Bowl has become – to demonstrate in person against this vile carnival of greed, concussive violence, carbon emission and waste in a dying world where billions struggle to live on less than $1 a day. “The Super Bowl,” Zirin writes,” is perennially the Woodstock for the 1%: a Romney-esque cavalcade of private planes, private parties, and private security.”
Why restrict popular outpourings against the wealthy Few to their formal policy, summit and fundraising events? Angry worker-citizens should shame and frighten them whenever and wherever they try to play and relax. We should disturb them beneath their Super Bowl skyboxes, outside their 10K hotel suites and their fancy restaurants in the vicinity of their Masters’ Golf Tournament, their Kentucky Derby, their Montauk Point mansions, and their French Riviera beaches. Why should the parasitic Fat Cats get to celebrate, preen, and gorge themselves without disruption while billions of human beings run out of ammunition in the war on destitution thanks to the depredations of the amoral profits system?
Maybe Megabus knew what it was doing when it offered me a ticket to the Super Bowl. Maybe it has contracted with the hyper-lucrative commercial spy service Facebook to mine my personal “social networking data” to create a profile of an “angry populist who desires cheap transport to protests of the rich and powerful.” Maybe my “populist rage” is itself a commodity to be bought and sold by and for the 1%.
I should go to the Super Bowl. Think about it: $1 to protest the 1%. I can almost see the roaring fighter jets descending from the sky to Lucas Oil Field in the annual imperial fly-over – a hallowed national ritual on the holiest of holy corporate days. I can almost hear the Lucas Oil Field PA announcer praising “our brave soldiers” for “defending our freedom.” I can almost hear the champagne glasses of the rich and powerful clinking in cloistered skyboxes as the skulls of linemen make the first of what will be hundreds of thunderous collisions on the revered gridiron of the modern day Roman Coliseum. And I can almost taste the tear-gas of the “homeland’s” dollar-soaked democracy as protestors get cleared from the playgrounds of privilege.
Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org) is the author of numerous books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm, 2004), The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010), and (co-authored with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011).