Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

Sex, Violence and Propaganda at the Military-Football Complex


The Military-Football Complex becomes more sinister every year. One should never be fooled into thinking the apogee of cynicism has been reached when the first Sunday in February rolls around and the beast’s infernal machinations are put on display for the nation and the world. For all its extremes of spectacle, this holiest of American Imperial rituals, one far more important than the recently observed inauguration of the U. S. President, gives a frighteningly clear picture of the cultural contradictions of this bizarre country.

There have been moments before that revealed, if only fleetingly, just how close the Land of the Super Bowl is to imploding under its own hypocrisy. In the infamous Nipplegate of 2004, Justin Timberlake—who was also in New Orleans doing a show this Super Bowl Sunday, just not in the Superdome—appeared to expose Janet Jackson’s right nipple. This phantom flesh sent evangelical politicians, pundits, and clergymen into fits of moral outrage. They labeled the desecration of a high holiday with their most stinging denunciation: “inappropriate.”

That amusing tempest—in which NBC was initially fined a half a million dollars, though the judgment was overturned some years later on appeal—attuned the easily-titillated as well as the technologically-adept to the potential of the Super Bowl to tip towards farce. During the 2009 game the telecast in Arizona was jammed by a satirically-minded hacker who offered viewers some porn for the half-time show, rudely interrupting Bruce Springsteen who a couple of weeks earlier had done his ponderous ballad “The Rising” in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Switching from Bruce and his macho E-Streeters to naked bodies made the obvious point that whether nipples are bared or not the half-time show is all about sex—and that superannuated rockers don’t really offer what is needed.

This year’s half-time star, Beyoncé, set new standards of raunchiness with her leather fetish rig: high-heeled boots and fish-net stockings drawing the eye up to a gothic space-age skirt, which, in contrast to her two back-up singers, was permanently parted to reveal the snuggest of undergarments. Her relentless hips made the most of this sartorial ensemble. The surprisingly restrained beauty of her voice—supposedly singing live in expiation for her lip-syncing sins at the Presidential inauguration—served by contrast to amplify the sexual display of her dancing.

Like Springsteen, Beyoncé is a vital Imperial player, and the easy move from inauguration to Super Bowl indicates just how efficient the Democratic political machine is in projecting the message at key events. It wouldn’t surprise me if the entertainment giants behind Springsteen and Beyoncé are also big contributors to the Obama camp and that they duly reap the commercial benefits.

Beyoncé made Madonna’s show at last year’s Super Bowl seem nun-like by comparison. Madonna spent most of the twelve minutes of her half-time show in a surprisingly unrevealing outfit—a rather puritanical gladiatrix at the après-bout. Then again, Madonna is of a certain age, an inconvenient reality that even dry ice and blinding lights can no longer hide. It was Madonna’s back-up singers, with their blatant cheerleaders-as-prostitutes look, that crossed the line into the pseudo-pornographic.

As for Beyoncé, don’t get me wrong: I think she’s a terrific dancer, but don’t tell me this is family entertainment. That’s what is so bizarre: in America it is.

The furor of Nipplegate confirmed that the Super Bowl half-time show is supposed to represent wholesome American values wrapped in the patriotic paraphernalia of nationalistic songs, solemn tributes to the military, and fighter plane flyovers. That this is not just a game, but a ceremony of national and political significance can be seen on the lapels of the CBS football analysts arrayed at their concave desk like the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All of them wear the American flag pins and present a united front not only to the national audience, but perhaps more importantly to the international viewers numbering more than a hundred million. Football as foreign policy: the Super Bowl is now the Military-Football complex’s version of the Doomsday Machine in the War on Terror.

Fortunately, that complex’s efficiency continues to show signs of steep decline. The long power outage that cut the lights in much of the stadium during the second half sent a sobering message to the nation and the world:  in the very city of New Orleans where the American state had so flagrantly let down its own citizens during and after Hurricane Katrina, the Military-Football complex couldn’t even keep the darkness at bay. Could there be any clearer omen of the empire’s imminent demise?

Initially I assumed it was Beyoncé’s high voltage light show—or the disturbances sent out into the grid by the pelvic force field generated by her grindings—that drained the stadium of electricity. On further reflection, however, I concluded that Alicia Keys’ butchering of the national anthem nearly two hours earlier had likely angered the energy gods and spurred them to pull the plug on the whole thing, Her doodling coda to the national hymn went beyond the standard pop decorations that are almost always deployed by singers thinking they’d better do something to spruce up the terrible melody. “Living in the land of the free, ooh, ooh” crooned the appropriately named Keys as her fingers ascended the ivories in a kind of AM-lite amen. Where was the outrage at such promiscuity with the national hymn?

Keys could just as well have been at a Las Vegas piano bar, which is anyway about right for the Super Bowl. Shots over the gleaming white piano—that naff veneer being the very symbol of suburban bad taste and therefore perfectly calibrated to this national celebration—to the singer were intercut with soldiers in camo crammed into the frame from Camp Courage in Afghanistan. The troops’ downcast eyes made it appear as if they were looking right down Keys polished décolletage.

The most unforgettably chilling moment came just before the national anthem when Jennifer Hudson sang America the Beautiful and was backed up by children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The first thing I thought of was the scenes of Saddam Hussein presenting American hostages to the world cameras. Here was America taking its own kids hostage in an attempt to assure the nation and the world that not even a senseless and preventable massacre could dampen the irrepressible American spirit nor curb its endemic insanity about guns.

Even for all their apparent elation at being on the world stage, the kids must have known that they had been kidnapped into a world of propagandistic illusion.  Hudson had a microphone and may or may not have been “live” in the quaint conventional sense of the word, long since irrelevant to mass nationalistic spectacles.  But the kids had no mikes and their mouths made it still clearer that had either been pre-recorded or overdubbed by another kiddy choir. This was a shocking first in the history of exploitation: the Super Bowl’s underage human shields were lip-syncing.

Ensnared in the alternate universe of state propaganda, they looked simultaneously thrilled and anesthetized. In their khakis white polo shirts they offered another striking contrast, this time to Hudson’s breasts swathed in form-fitting leather.

When the color guard marched out to the fifty-yard line after this ugliest of America the Beautifuls I braced myself for the clap of blanks from the white Enfield rifles and the post-traumatic scatter of the Sandy Hook choir. But no blast of gunfire came.  The violence inflicted on reason had already been too great.

For what were kids doing here in the first place? Clearly they had been called on to buttress the devastated reputation of a discredited country on the occasion of its chief cultural celebration. This is a country where high school footballers in Steubenville, Ohio video a rape and post it on YouTube. Football itself is a brutal sport whose crushing hits are now the subject of a massive lawsuit by former players suffering from serious brain trauma, with the NFL’s own ads during the Super Bowl claiming hypocritically to want to make their sport safer. And then there’s the winning team’s hero, Ray Lewis. He’s a maniac who spouts incoherent nonsense about being chosen by God and who himself plead guilty to obstruction of justice in a double murder case in which the white suit he was wearing that fateful night was never found.  In the Super Sunday ritual itself, two halves of a blood sport are parsed by a Las Vegas adult floorshow.  The Newtown kids might as well have been faking it at the opening act of a strip club with cage fighting.

The Super Bowl is a riot of sex and violence, propaganda and lies. That’s all to be expected and enjoyed, Budweiser in hand. But don’t be surprised that so many who watch it grow up to make war at home and abroad.

DAVID YEARSLEY s a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Bach’s Feet. He can be reached at




DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians