Monday, February 15, 2021

Don't Ask

 You don't need to. I'll spill.

I was going to write a blog a week ago about how Bruce Springsteen may or may not have sold out by appearing in a commercial for Jeep. I confess that I did the thing that so many of us do these days: I jumped at the chance to peek at the ad on YouTube. Why wait until some pre-ordained moment during the Super Bowl to see this bit of media that will require my focused attention? I could be in the kitchen scraping the nacho pan or watching replays of all those Kansas City touchdowns. Turns out there were no nachos, only chips and salsa. And those Kansas City touchdowns? Well, let's just say at least I had the chips. 

The ad was a stirring bit of poetic thunder one might have expected from the Boss. It was called "The Middle," and it was all about reuniting America. A noble thought from a man whom I tend to presume is noble himself. 

But it was used to sell Jeeps. Or Jeep the company. Not by name, of course. That would have been crass. Instead, there was a discussion about a church in the middle of the continental United States, and how we can all strive to get there. In our Jeeps. 

Or maybe it really was something more. I do not doubt that Mister Springsteen's heart was in the right place, and I would imagine that whatever he was paid was not the driving force behind his decision to make a commercial for anything after all these years of saying, "Thank you. No." Still, my mind couldn't help but recalling another time I felt my heart break just a little when it came to this semi-major demigod in the pantheon of my life: The time he made an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to sell a greatest hits package, which came fast on the heels of an appearance at Barack Obama's inauguration, and would you believe that was the year The E Street Band was the halftime show at (wait for it) The Super Bowl. 

And at that time, there was a shrug of the shoulders and some forgiveness for being let down by this paragon of human nature. The operative word there being "human." Which brings us to the DWI. Seventy-one year old Bruce Springsteen was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. Back in November. And somehow this news became important enough to report just days after his debut as a pitchman for Jeep. Jeep decided to take down the ad upon which they spent ridiculous amounts of money as a zero tolerance response. 

The whole thing left me feeling, as a fan, a little disappointed. Not in terms of the level of scandal, but the existence of scandal at all. I immediately went about uncovering the details of the arrest, which seem to hinge more on a momentary lapse of judgement than a hidden past of drunken debauchery. 

Look at me making excuses for the man.

Because a large part of me needs my heroes to be above all that, and even though this most recent incident occurred in response to a request from a fan to have a shot with him, it still fuels that set of voices that clamor to bring down the mighty. Or at least those I find to be mighty. The ones that like to point out that Springsteen did by his own admission dodge the draft, never had a "real job" or cheated on his first wife. Or maybe I should remain awestruck that this blue collar hero managed to find himself in the position that so many of the characters in his songs have been. I will not be throwing away any of my albums, T-shirts, or ticket stubs. 

But I probably won't be buying a Jeep anytime soon. 

No comments: