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M&M's Saga Reaches Its Conclusion

When looking for the politics angle to this weekend's Super Bowl, one might consider the back-and-forth between Joe Biden and Fox, wherein the President backed out of a scheduled interview because Fox wanted (rather insultingly) to push the interview to their streaming service Fox Soul. In case you are among the 98% of Americans who have never heard of it, that is apparently Fox's product for its vast Black audience. Seriously. Fox not only has that channel, but they named it "Soul." That's about a half-step up from calling it "Fox Jive" or "Fox Ebonics."

Another possible storyline, also involving clueless white people, involves ESPN anchor Chris Berman, whose prime is so far in the rear-view mirror that it's no longer even visible anymore. Every NFL fan on the planet already knew that this was the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks. So, Berman decided that his contribution to the conversation would be to note how apropos it was that the game was being played on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Because, as every Civil War historian knows, the first thing Lincoln said upon signing the Emancipation Proclamation was "Hot damn! I have just laid the groundwork for a helluva Super Bowl matchup one of these days."

Turning to the commercials, quite a few folks are writing about the two Jesus ads. They are part of a campaign being conducted under the slogan "He Gets Us" (see a selection of the ads here). The slickly produced ads are deliberately vague about who exactly is funding them, and are meant to win young people over to the banner of Christianity by portraying Jesus as cool, personable, and progressive. He probably was most/all of those things, but young people are not stupid, and are pretty good at spotting phoniness a mile away. In particular, they notice instantly when the ads sneak in right-wing buzzwords like "cancel culture." And indeed, it turns out that the commercials are the work of a shadowy evangelical group with close ties to anti-LGBTQ causes. It would seem that "He" gets "us" as long as "we" are not gay.

For us, while all three of the above storylines are interesting, the most notable politics-related story of all involves M&M's. Readers will recall that, three weeks ago, Fox entertainer Tucker Carlson soiled himself over the fact that the M&M/Mars Company had changed the designs of their cartoon spokespeople to be a shade more inclusive. In response, M&M/Mars announced that they were benching the animated M&M's, and were replacing them, for the time being, with comedian Maya Rudolph.

The ad that aired during the Super Bowl was an attempt to be surreal. The bit was that either Rudolph, or M&M/Mars, or both, have gone off the deep end. And so, Rudolph "announced" that the name of the candy was being changed to Ma-Yas, that her face would be painted on all of the candies henceforth, and that the recipe was being altered such that each M&M would contain clam pieces. At the end of the Super Bowl, sanity "miraculously" returned, and M&M/Mars ran a 15-second spot announcing that Rudolph had been cashiered, and that the animated M&M's were back to serving as spokespeople (spokescandies? spokeschocolates? spokeswokes?).

As anyone who has come within a country mile of commercial production knows, it takes forever to get all the details in place. Contracts have to be signed. Sets have to be built. Clearances have to be cleared. Filming has to take place. Then there's editing, color correction, sound production, and all kinds of other stuff. There is no way that M&M/Mars could pull a spot together in the roughly three weeks between Carlson's meltdown (Jan. 23) and the Super Bowl (Feb. 12).

That leaves us with exactly two possibilities: (1) M&M/Mars played Carlson, and other right-wing culture warriors, like a fiddle, or (2) Carlson is on the M&M/Mars payroll, and was compensated by them for his faux outrage. Readers can decide for themselves which explanation they find more plausible. (Z)

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