By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) It’s rare that a cause inspires me to add my name to an online petition.
And by rare, I mean that it’s never occurred, as far as I can remember. Saving whales, stopping land mines, saving Wales, re-routing an oil pipeline, SOPA/PIPA, ozone depletion or whatever, I have never been sufficiently motivated to act, even if it’s just keystrokes and a mouse-click.
I made my support official, and you should, too.
Weird Al Yankovic must play halftime of the next Super Bowl. This has to happen.
I speak for everyone tired of the whole bit – whether the post-Nipplegate parade of dessicated geezers halfheartedly belting out long-dead warhorses over pathetically-obvious backing tracks, or the post-post-Nipplegate reintroduction of sanitized party acts, whose songs are already used in half of that year’s commercials.
The idea of the musical halftime show has jumped the shark, jumped up and down on the shark, backed over the shark, and hacked the shark into chum. Even if a given year’s performance seems fleetingly satisfactory (like the most recent did, to me), it’s only as compared to others of its kind. In larger context, really, it’s over. So let’s at least use the platform to make fun of it.
I speak for dorks of the 1980s, who waited all week for the Sunday night broadcast of “Dr. Demento,” and tried to remember to flip the cassette in the boombox so as not to miss recording a song, at least during Funny Five time.
And I speak for what’s just plain right.
The man has three Grammy Awards among nine nominations for lampooning exactly the type of singers and bands that have become so stale. The biggest names have made the choicest targets: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Queen, The Kinks, Dire Straits, Green Day, Usher, R Kelly and more. Time to do a Super Bowl halftime show that goes beyond the usual earnestness, blasts right past the next step of winking self-awareness, and explodes into full-blown parody of music and culture.
Roger Goodell and the NFL have long been concerned with pleasing as large an audience as possible, while alienating few. They have tried recently to again balance safe with edgy, black with white, and old with new. They also want to be newsworthy.
In Noise Magazine, Yankovic described his concert performance as “a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza.” He told Yahoo that his regular crowd ranges “from toddlers to geriatrics.” Good enough, Roger?
Perhaps there would be concern about the interest from the international TV audience, which is understandable, but baseless. First of all, any country not wanting to watch Weird Al is clearly in desperate, immediate need of Weird Al.
I’m looking at you, Syria. You too, Myanmar. And Venezuela, for sure.
Second, he has performed extensively in Australia and Canada, and has done shows in England, the Netherlands and New Zealand. The multinational presence is there.
I know our effort faces long odds, but that’s no reason not to try. The uphill fight will only make the taste of victory that much sweeter when Weird Al takes the stage in the Superdome on February 3rd, ready to do his best Springsteen stage-slide, mock Madonna’s choreographically-literal grandstanding, or show off his Moves Like Jagger that kill two groups with one bit.
In a perfect world, we could get guest cameos from an 83-year-old Tom Lehrer doing “National Brotherhood Week” and Napoleon XIV with “They’re Coming to Take me Away, Ha-Haa!” Even better, we could make it utterly Dadaist, with Barnes & Barnes performing “Fish Heads,” then dropping the mics, walking off, and leaving the globe in stunned silence. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our opportunity is here, and there is precious little time to waste.
The grand stage of Super Bowl halftime has become lame, and it needs to get Weird.