A Super Bowl with the lights on and the Asian American stereotypes in those commercials

Immigration advocate and AALDEF 2013 Justice in Action award honoree Jose Antonio Vargas tweeted from the Super Bowl: “Can’t find an electrical socket to charge iPhone here at Superdome! More tweet soon.”

I tweeted back: “No wait, you’ll blow a fuse!”

It was that kind of game.

Nothing quite worked the way it was supposed to.

Although as one wag tweeted, would the lights have gone out at the Chinese Super Bowl?

No doubt a fair number of Asian Americans rooting for the Ravens are happy right now. But with San Francisco being the most Asian city on the mainland, and with three of five Pacific Islanders in the Super Bowl on the 49ers, it was hard not to root for San Francisco. (Besides, I’m a native son and live near Kaepernick’s parents. I like the Bromo Seltzer Building in Baltimore, but the team?)

The 49ers were supposed to win the game, but only won the second half 25-13. (How’s that for positive spin? They were half-super.)

For most of the night, it seemed that Beyonce (who showed up in a wardrobe malfunction-proof teddy that worked just fine) would wind up the big winner, as the 49ers lip-synched through three quarters.

But then came that 34-minute delay due to a power failure. (You mean a 49er power failure wasn’t enough, now the Superdome had to be less than super? Yes, but it was over in the time you could answer, “How many network executives does it take to change a few hundred lightbulbs?”) And though what usually is spawned by a power failure is a baby boom nine months later, this power failure birthed an immediate explosion of energy from the 49ers, who nearly made it all the way back from the dead.

A score of 28-6 certainly made us all more interested in whatever buffet was before us, and not the football game. But then the 49ers began to actually play, outgaining and outscoring the Ravens, topping it off with a Kaepernick score to bring the 49ers to a 31-29 deficit. The Ravens responded with a field goal, making it 34-29. Then, with the ball on the Baltimore 5-yard line, the 49er juggernaut hit a wall–the Ravens defense. Four plays, goal to go, and nothing. No runs, all passes. Lots of penalties. Oh, those weren’t penalties? Well then, the pistol was shot. The 49ers empty.

Oh, what could have been? From 34-29, if they make it to the endzone, the Niners go up 36-34. Flacco and the Ravens still had a lot of time to drive for a game-winning FG or a TD. Or maybe the 49er defense finally prevails. We won’t know that ending. We’re stuck with the one we’ve got.

A Super Bowl win you cherish and commemorate. A Super Bowl loss merely burns eternally.

You do learn from it, as a team or as a fan. And you go on from there, perhaps to achieve or to witness greatness again.

But until that happens, you can never quite turn off the lights on such a super loss, ever.


Of course, if you are like my daughter who sees #superbowl and wonders what kind of ornithological phenomenon this “superb owl” is, then you were probably more interested in the commercials.

Besides the five huge Asian Pacific Islander linemen on the field, this is where we did show up a number of times.

There was the clean-cut Asian American playing the Best Buy blue shirt geek guy helping Amy Poehler. Usually our sexual orientation is at play when we are so featured, and sure enough, it comes up here as we play the smiling deferential servant. It’s a gentle tease over a dongle.

Yes, Amy, Asian American guys know a thing or two about dongles. Can I show you mine?

Given the geeky stereotype, you’d have thought the nerd kissing the Israeli supermodel on the GoDaddy ad would have been Asian American. It wasn’t. I protest!

There were two other Asian Americans I noticed on the ad side of the ball.

There was the Asian American buddy in the controversial Volkswagon spot, where the white people get down with the ganja talk, mon.

Racist? It would have been marginally funny if real dreadlocked Jamaicans showed up in the boardroom or workplace. Instead, having whites mock the accent was just offensive. Shouldn’t that be obvious by now?

The Asian American character, though portrayed as some techy hipster, was still just a sidekick.

What’s it take to be the main man?

A horse dance?

Leave it to the nutty PSY to go Gangnam-style, fronting for pistachios, “Crack-crack-crack-crack-crack.” It’s not even a year from the height of his horsiness, and already, he’s the inventor of the Asian Macarena.

Ads reflect our image in pop culture. So where are we? Like this year’s game, a little less than super.

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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