dog eat dog

February 9, 2010

originally posted here

Every Super Bowl Sunday the world becomes overloaded with testosterone. The concluding game of the NFL football season projects so many manly grunts, first-pumps and “yeaaaaaahs!” into the planet’s energy sphere that the universe created its own checks-and-balances to offset the excess masculinity.

Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl is a counter-programming effort that is adorable enough to outlast decades of Budweiser commercials. It pits puppies four months old and younger against each other in a model stadium full of chew toys and camera-rigged water bowls. And as a telecast for those who stared at the kenneled dogs in the mall pet shop, former NFL commentators try to make sense of the fluffy mess as a soundtrack of cheering fans loops over pulsating beats.

But while Sunday’s only other novelty football offering, the Lingerie Bowl,  uses the objectification of women as sexual objects for testosterone transference, the Puppy Bowl is animal objectification at its least-sexual cutest.

But the Puppy Bowl is not only a football-friendly alternative for animal lovers. It is also a commentary on the primitive nature of the games we worship. With the idea of televised football games stripped down to its bare aesthetic essentials — white-line-painted green grass in a stadium — and humans replaced by oafish puppies, the event highlights the basic animalistic tendencies that drive the entertainment value of most sports.

Just like professional football players, Puppy Bowl contenders fight for control of rubber balls, run to the other side of the field in attempts to keep possession and fumble over each other as they try to assert dominance. And just like the real Super Bowl, Animal Planet’s televised event features corporate sponsors (Bissell, Pedigree, etc.), humorous commercials (for dog food) and an epic halftime show where puppies and toys are replaced with kittens and a scratching post.

Now if only Most Valuable Puppy Jake the Chug (chihuahua pug) would go head-to-head with Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, the universe might finally attain hormonal homeostasis.

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