Two guys kissing set to steal the Super Bowl show

Next Sunday's football final will highlight an extra showdown: between liberals and the religious right

It's already a quintessentially American event, combining razzmatazz, cheerleaders, and multimillionaire sportsmen in a few excessive hours of made-for-TV entertainment. But this year, the Super Bowl will be jollified by a side-plot that perhaps reflects the true state of the nation: an angry dispute between liberals and the religious right.

Women's groups and gay activists are squaring up against opponents from the "family values" lobby over the contents of two very different television adverts that are due to air when the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in next Sunday's finale of the American football season. One of the commercials carries a hard-hitting anti-abortion message, and was made by a conservative Christian organisation. The other couldn't be more different: it publicises a gay dating website called Mancrunch, and features two men holding hands on a sofa, and then passionately kissing.

Their existence immediately sparked predictable outrage from both ends of the political spectrum. Now this year's Super Bowl broadcaster, CBS, is being bombarded with calls to keep either or both of them from the airwaves. The anti-abortion advertisement stars Tim Tebow, one of the nation's best-known college football players, and his mother, Pam, speaking on the theme "celebrate family, celebrate life". It sees Ms Tebow recall how she ignored medical advice to terminate her pregnancy with her now-famous son in 1987 after suffering a short illness.

Left-leaning groups describe that message as divisive, and therefore inconsistent with the values of the nation's most watched sporting event. They are further upset because the evangelical group that made it, Focus on the Family, has long campaigned against gay marriage. "By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organisation, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers," reads a complaint from the Women's Media Center.

Scarcely less controversial, given Middle America's quaintly repressive attitude towards public displays of homosexuality, is the proposed Super Bowl advert for Mancrunch, in which two men sitting on a sofa watching an American football game appear to become suddenly attracted to each other. They promptly begin kissing. Its contents have been condemned by, among other groups, the American Family Association, whose spokesman, Tim Wildmon, believes it could corrupt the nation's youth: "CBS should not put parents in the position of answering embarrassing and awkward questions from their children while they're just trying to enjoy a football game."

CBS has so far not commented on whether it will allow either advert to run. But the company is only too aware of the PR difficulties that censorship can bring. In 2004, it was widely criticised for preventing a liberal church running a commercial that highlighted its welcoming stance towards gays and lesbians.

Whatever their content, any advertisements screened during the Super Bowl are guaranteed to make disproportionate headlines because of their cost, which reflects the vast audience they receive. A 30-second half-time spot during this year's game will cost $2.5m (£1.6m).

Major brands traditionally use the the event to premiere extravagant new ad campaigns. As a result, commercial interludes are for many viewers as much a part of the Super Bowl experience as the game itself.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam