Media Studies Final Essay

Media Studies Final Essay
The SuperBowl
The following paper will be an essay of an example of contemporary media using three media
studies theories to analyze the event. The contemporary media being the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX
football game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks and the three theories
of media studies being The Commodity as a Spectacle by Guy Debord, The Audience
Commodity and its Work by Dallas Smythe and finally and finally On television by Pierre
Debhor defines the spectacle as “the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation
of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world one sees is
its world”( 117-118 Debhor). If you were to use this definition to categorize the SuperBowl, football is a
spectacle that can encompass the lives of fans as they eat, sleep and breath the National Football
League. The SuperBowl championship game is the most important NFL game each year and attracts
football fans as well as everyday people who tune in due to the popularity if the event.
The spectacle is defined by Deborh as a capitalist driven phenomenon where advertising,
television, film and celebrities are viewed and used to sell ideas in consumerist societies. The
prevalence of capitalism within society have shifted the priorities of the collective into
entertainment and the furthering of the economy rather than the needs of the individual.
The spectacle is an instrument of unification as it has the ability to bring vast numbers of people
together to witness and take in the images. The spectacle is not a collection of images but it is the
way the social relation between people that is mediated by the viewing of the image. In the
partaking of the spectacle being the 2015 Super Bowl over 111 million Americans tuned into the
broadcast to join in the collective viewing of the images being the football game played, the
halftime show, the advertisements, the announcers as well as the
The commodity as a spectacle has become a central part of the economy within capitalistic
societies and the Super Bowl is a prime example of a spectacle in that it has evolved from a
shared love of football that culminates in the final championship game into an effort to sell as
much advertising as humanly possible. The New England Patriots were the winner of Super
Bowl XLIX and because of that the value of the team greatly increased with the added media
coverage and demand for team merchandise.
The 49th Super Bowl was a spectacle of such magnitude that nearly a third of all Americans
watched the broadcast live and that is a third of the United States of America that is preoccupied
with the all-encompassing spectacle. That chunk of the population is distracted for the day and
the following days with the coverage which can allow for unpopular or detrimental political or
economic changes to be made with the general public distracted. I see similarities between the
spectacle of the Super Bowl and the works of science fiction author Aldous Huxley specifically
Brave New World in that the dystopia is created and furthered through the distraction of the
population with spectacles.
The Audience Commodity and its work is a major media studies theory authored by Dallas W
The audience is a commodity that can be sold and is used in the measuring of the value of media.
The audience becomes a commodity once they are exposed to advertisements which advertising
companies place value on being able to reliably access certain demographics which make up the
In the consumption of media you are being sold to advertisers and the work that the audience
does is the consistent support of the media through the consistent digestion of the media and the
subsequent advertisements.
The ratings are not just to see how many people are viewing media but to see what kinds of
people make up the audience so that they can be better advertised to.
The audience is sold in the form of time slots when they watch a specific program and the
advertisers use this to target their intended demographic whether it is young men 18-35 or
women 35-45 who are likely to watch day time television.
The Super Bowl audience is a prime commodity worth billions with over 111 million viewers
within the United States and a price tag of 5 million US dollars for a 30 second advertisement
during the live broadcast.(CITE)
The audience of the NFL and the Super Bowl are an extremely dedicated workforce creating vast
wealth through the viewing of advertisements. The NFLs Super Bowl is a spectacle of such
magnitude that it attracts many demographics that are generally uninterested in the game of
football with a small subset who tune in exclusively for the ads. This subset of the workforce is a
demographic goldmine that the NFL has created through the Super Bowl in which the audience
enjoys and actively seek out the advertisements.
If you were to look up 2015 Super Bowl advertisements on YouTube you would find dozens of
compilation videos of Super Bowl XLIX advertisements with hundreds of thousands to millions
of views. Years after the event the audience workforce still seek out these advertisements
On Television
The power of television and how the media medium is determined by the audience ratings.
Over time the television medium has slowly and surely boxed out the newspaper as well as print
The evolution of television into the quest for ratings at the expense of the quality or the integrity
of the newstation.
The sensationalism of non-stories in the effort to create controversies and outrage to boost
ratings and views has led television losing credibility as a source of news.
The 2015 SuperBowl halftime show had Katy Perry performing with two people dancing in
shark costumes. Towards the end of the Perry’s performance the left shark breaks away from the
choreographed dance to do his own dance moves which created a controversy which in turn had
people discussing and writing articles about the performance for weeks after the event.
It is entirely possible that the left shark was instructed to dance this way in an effort to
manufacture a controversy which creates discussion. Regardless of if the left shark was instructed to
deviate from the choreography the result was sensationalized news for weeks.
The television medium is shaped completely by the ratings determining what is successful and
The halftime show that occurs during every Super Bowl and features a renowned musical act that occurs
between the second and third quarter of the game. The power of television has allowed the Super Bowl
to become a worldwide event setting records for viewership year after year and that would not be
possible under previous mediums such as the newspaper. Rather than reading about who won or what
the score was in a newspaper people from across the world all tune in at the same time to view the
event live, the power that television has in drawing in audiences is magnitudes higher than the
newspaper due to the globalist nature of the television medium.
In conclusion the Super Bowl XLIX is an excellent example of contemporary media and can be analyzed
using the three major theories from the course being On Television, The Commodity and its Work, as
well as The Commodity as a Spectacle. These media theories can be easily used to analyze and gain a
better understanding of the 49th Super Bowl and the inner workings of how it functions as
contemporary media.