I find it interesting that I have yet to see anything on the ‘net that talks about the tastelessness of the U2 halftime show at the Super Bowl yesterday. Specifically, what I didn’t like what the way that the two huge curtains behind U2 — pretty clear artistic replicas of the Towers themselves — came crashing down while the names of the people who died in the buildings were scrolling by; to me, it was pointless and crass. Boooooo.


Symbolism is subjective. As much as I enjoy listening to U2, I have to wonder why an American band was not selected…

• Posted by: Bryce on Feb 5, 2002, 1:37 AM

I brought up the same thing on MetaFilter this morning. I didn’t expect to see the sheets dropped suddenly to the roar of the crowd — too jarring. It would have been more fitting for them to ascend upwards.

• Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead on Feb 5, 2002, 12:31 PM

Not only was the towers falling thing a bit overdone, what about the song they chose to accompany it? Where the streets have no name (while they display names)? Where things are burning down (while they take down the sheets)?

I thought the whole presentation was a bit sickening, and a bad use of the memories of those who died.

• Posted by: Matt Haughey on Feb 5, 2002, 3:54 PM

Wow, I didn’t even notice the tower-curtain thing. I don’t consider myself to be particularly stupid, but it seems pretty obvious now and I don’t know how I could have missed it. At the time I just thought it was another poor attempt at mushy generic patrotism. I thought for sure it was a mistake when the curtains fell down, because the names were only in the Cs. I thought that maybe since these peoples’s lives had been cut short, the list was cut short also. I also didn’t understand the choice of song that they played. That song always makes me think of japan, where the streets actually don’t for the most part have names.

• Posted by: donkeymon on Feb 5, 2002, 4:14 PM

I am in the live production industry. There was only 1 backdrop, the other was the shadow. The names were being scrolled across the entire dome, and continued to be throughout the performance. the purpose of the backdrop was so the cameras could pick it up and it could be more easily seen. Also, the backdop would have taken about 10 minutes to pull up with motors. Not being a big U2 fan, I thought it was an excellent performance, and appropriate.

• Posted by: rb on Feb 6, 2002, 3:15 AM

I have a question for you guys since you seem to know what you are talking about. My professor is a U2 fan and offered extra credit to anyone who could tell him the 3 songs that U2 played durning there halftime performance (in order). I watched playmate fear factor rather than halftime so I have no idea. I would greatly appreciate anyone who would be kind enough to post the 3 songs in order if you happen to know. Thanks and I hope someone out there can help me. :)

• Posted by: Sara on Feb 6, 2002, 12:23 PM

Actually, I don’t believe most of these people have any idea what they are talking about. Anyway the 3 songs are:
1. Beautiful Day
2. MLK
3. Where The Streets Have No Name

Playmate Fear Factor!?!?!?!

• Posted by: Steve Johnson on Feb 6, 2002, 1:06 PM

I freely admit that I do not know now, nor have I ever known, what I am talking about.

• Posted by: donkeymon on Feb 6, 2002, 4:53 PM

The group of a dozen I cheered the Pats with discussed this very thing that night. We theorized that (1) it might have been a mistake — how odd for the curtain to just fall — but not likely because of the attention to detail in this sort of thing; (2) the curtain was dropped so the names could be scrolled over the whole audience, reflecting on the faces each one of us in a show of unity; and/or (3) it was - as you said - a jarring, obvious, and very clunky symbolic gesture that marred an otherwise touching moment. (This is what you get when you watch a the Superbowl in a room full of doctors & lawyers; next year I’m going to Brighton to vandalize parking meters like the rest of Boston.)

• Posted by: steveriden on Feb 6, 2002, 5:54 PM

Congrats to your Pats, Steve… and vandalizing parking meters? What could they possibly have done to them?

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Feb 6, 2002, 7:01 PM

Even before they dropped the curtains, I was disturbed by the combination of the names of the WTC dead and the insanely cheering crowd. Three columns didn’t make much sense either.

But then was anyone REALLY expecting something tasteful?

• Posted by: joemaller on Feb 6, 2002, 8:27 PM

I thought it was pretty awful. If they’d done it during, say, the National Anthem…okay, fine. During “MLK,” yeah, it was a little weird, but solemn song, so…eh. But “Streets have no name?” No, no, no, no…that came on and I just stared at the screen in disbelief, thinking, “Out of all of the appropriate songs they’ve got — or could have covered — they picked this one?!”

• Posted by: Roe on Feb 6, 2002, 10:58 PM

Songs and/or poetry are never static; there meaning is continuously changing, and usually our interpretations are influenced by our own current state. That being said, you might want to check out this link: The meaning of Where The Streets Have No Name. Personally, I donít believe this song was inappropriate at all, in fact, I believe Heaven is where streets have no name and the only place we can go to escape all of the pain in this world.


• Posted by: Steve Johnson on Feb 7, 2002, 4:33 PM

I completely agree with the previous post. During “Where The Streets Have No Name” Bono even changed some of the lyrics, making it all more relevant, as well as appropriate. One of the changes: “I’ll show you a place where there’s no sorrow or pain … where the streets have no name.”

No sorrow or pain? Even if you do not believe in a heaven, I think we all desire a place like that, especially in light of September 11th.

I do agree, though, that the cheering crowds were a little disturbing. But I cannot fault U2 for this.

• Posted by: Spiro on Feb 8, 2002, 10:58 PM

I think anyone that can find what U2 did during the Superbowl disturbing than you have to take a look at it again. I think the perfect band was picked.. U2 is the worlds greatest known band. I think it was one of the most spiritual, unbelivable, rightous preformance I have ever seen. Sorry to all of you that didn’t get to see Brittney Spears, Nelly, Or NSync out there singing about some drugs they didn’t get, or how they all grown up now. And as far as the names of the WTC victims and how the curtain went down.. it sent shivers down my spine and brought me to tears. Exactly what it was meant to do.. remember the people who dies so innocently. I could have never wanted U2 to do anymore of an appropriate song than Where the steets have no name.People need to think more. clearly.

• Posted by: Greg on Feb 9, 2002, 11:19 PM

Well, Greg — glad you cleared that up for us all. How silly of us to realize that there wasn’t room for, oh, say… personal opinion in matters of tastefulness and such.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Feb 9, 2002, 11:25 PM

Obviously you guys are ignorant about the history behind the song. Maybe you should educate yourselves on the subject before you criticize the performance. Afterall, U2 can’t decide not to sing a song because some arrogant audience member might decide that they’re an afficionado of their lyrics and write a highly misleading critique.

• Posted by: Marygrace O'Brien on Jan 16, 2004, 10:04 PM

Further more, the two sheets behind them were not supposed to fall when they did. It was an accident that can be blamed on people behind the scenes. Also, would you have preferred that they stay in the middle of the field for the rest of the game? They had to come down at some point and I thought that the names of the deceased scrolling up the sheets was a beautiful tribute. Why should they choose an American band over a foreign band. The Pentagon and the Towers were hosts to many foreign dignitaries as well as people who were from many different races, cultures and creeds. Perhaps you should open your minds and educate yourself before you post ill-educated comments.

• Posted by: Marygrace O'Brien on Jan 16, 2004, 10:10 PM

Wow, Marygrace — it might, perhaps, be time for you to take your next dose…

• Posted by: Jason on Jan 16, 2004, 11:06 PM
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