The Super Bowl's Failings

Erin Karll

To the camera and sound crew of super bowl 50, can we talk?

I, like many other Americans, was glued to the television for the once a year game that takes over our lives. Super Bowl 50 was this last Sunday and I was excited to see the pageantry that this event hosts. I got very interested when Marlee Matlin was announced as the ASL singer for America the Beautiful and the National Anthem.  As an interpreter I really enjoy seeing this language in the public eye. Also she is amazing and I recently saw her in the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening. I cued up my DVR and readied myself for some beautiful moving signs about our country.  The fan fair was there. Lots of color guards, the choir from every branch of military, and Lady Gaga! Then it happened. The camera panned away from Marlee and never returned.  ASL is a visual language and needs to be seen to be understood. A simple split screen or even (the horror) a bubble/picture in picture area in the corner of the screen would have been enough. This happened last year also, but we were warned and told to go on-line to see the full signed version. They also panned away from Lady Gaga during most of the song to do close ups of players and file footage that seemed to be from some travel website.

Forgetting that oversight, let’s talk about the half time show. I understand using a live crowd, but the sound overtook the microphones. For me, I could not make out half of the songs until close captioning caught up. Again the visuals were amazing, the screen in the stage flashing images and the whole stadium holding up cards to spell out the message about love were beyond impressive. The problem was with the technical aspects of making the art more accessible to the television consumer. I have been to stadiums before and the sound over the public address (PA) is never enough to produce a concert. And that is what sounded like happened during these two important national musical moments.

I think CBS needs to take some lessons from NBC and more recently FOX. Both networks broadcast live musical productions and only had a few blips to work around. Camera work that panned away from the artist and sound that was inaudible does not make a good pre or half time show for your game.

Sincerely a theatre (and sometimes sports) fan.