It's Pretend Time in America

By Marc Dion

February 13, 2012 4 min read

I wouldn't watch the Super Bowl if people didn't ply me with salsa and hot cheese dip.

The Super Bowl is not important. Football is not important. It's pretend. The rules are made up, the "teams" are composed of barely literate mercenaries, and the teams are often named after nearly extinct creatures, like lions, tigers and patriots.

But if someone is laying out a spread of salty snacks and beer, I'll show up and I'll eat more than most because, while the true believers watch the game, I'm plundering the cocktail franks in barbecue sauce.

And the commercials. Smoky-eyed women in precarious dresses and heavy underwires. Talking dogs. Monkeys. Beer. Take all the commercials together, and you've got everything you'd want to bring with you to a desert island if you were a 17-year-old boy.

And Clint Eastwood. Good old gravel-voiced Clint, telling my garlic-breathing self that it's halftime in America.

Clint's an actor, a ridiculous way for a grown man to make a living.

Clint's pretended to be a soldier. He's pretended to be a gunslinger. He's pretended to be a boxing trainer. He's pretended to be a pompadoured detective in a cheap suit. And almost always, he's pretended to kill people. He's pretended to kill so many pretend people that he's probably going to pretend hell.

But that's who ya want to give a message of pretend hope to a country torn between the pretend patriots of the right and the left. In America, at halftime, the slogans are fake. The layoffs are real.

It's not halftime. It's just another day. Maybe another day without health insurance or a pension or a union card or any job security.

Good old Clint. For once, he wasn't pretending to be something he wasn't. He really was an actor trying to give cheap tough guy status to the corporate sneak thieves who'd set your 2-year-old on fire for another $10 on the bottom line.

It's probably not fair to pick on Clint. He says what he's told to say.

You say what you're told stay, too. Guy walks into the restaurant where you're waiting tables, and he asks you if the "Supremo Nachos" are any good.

"The nachos are triangular pieces of cardboard piled with crap," you say. "People have been throwing them up in the parking lot."

You don't say that. You like your job. Well, you want your job. OK, you need your job.

"They're very good," you say. Chances are the guy'll eat the nachos, and you'll make the rent.

Clint's probably not too worried about making the rent, but saying other people's words is a hard habit to break.

This doesn't mean we're a nation that doesn't value truth. In fact, the rarer truth gets, the more it's worth, so the real value of truth goes up every day, particularly during presidential campaigns.

It's halftime in America, and we all have to pull together. You pull to the left, and I'll pull to the right, and our engine will roar, and dammit, we'll find a way because Americans, my friend, are a second-half people.

And try the Supremo Nachos.

They're good.

And they're half price.

During halftime.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read more features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

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