Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is like a god to me. Much of my childhood conditioning has worn off, and I'm no longer that fond of football -- and, as the Iraq war drags on and on, the attractions of this quintessential war game have begun to pall. But Favre keeps me watching -- the Packers at least, especially in this, perhaps his last, season. He's about to celebrate his 38th birthday and just today had another monster game against San Diego, complete with one of his patented come-from-behind scoring drives to win in the closing minutes.
In his 16th season, the Packers are off to their best start in years (3-0) and, for the moment, there's a at least a theoretical possibility that he will lead an otherwise mediocre Packers team to a last hurrah at the Super Bowl, or if not that, at least make the playoffs one more time, through strength of will and sheer, aging athleticism. At an age when most quarterbacks have retired, Favre is off to his best start in years, is playing with joy and exuberance, and is an inspiration to those people everywhere who are supposedly over-the-hill.
So does that mean I think it was a great idea for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to put on a big show this fall celebrating the career of Brett Favre, with an installation that adds another piece for every game (that circular installation in the photo is made up of little , blank plaster TV sets, and one will be added for each game Favre plays)? Um, no. I think it's pandering, pompous and patronizing. Some examples from the web page for Tim Laun: Sunday, September 20th, 1992:
Pandering: On September 20, 1992, Green Bay Packers quarterback Don Majkowski was tackled to the ground and suffered a strained ligament in his ankle. Louisiana-born Brett Favre took over as quarterback. Initially, Favre’s novice colors showed through his green and yellow Packer uniform as he fumbled the ball and threw interceptions, but he soon took control. The Packers won the game, and Favre has started every game since.
Pompous: Laun says his role in creating Tim Laun: September 20th, 1992 was akin to a curator’s, honing and packaging Favre’s career for the thinking fan. Using scale and seriality, Laun asks the viewer to consider new questions about how we experience, perceive, and adore sports—to be at once believers and critics.
Patronizing: Express It! Workshop, Friday, October 5, 6–8 pm: The Superbowl is a pinnacle of achievement for a football player such as Brett Favre. Players from the winning team receive a special ring to commemorate their triumph. Adults and kids ages 8 and up are invited to stop by the museum’s classroom to make a “championship ring” to celebrate their accomplishments at home, work, school, or on the playground.Call me a grinch, but I just think this is the most cynical and exploitive museum show in Madison in recent years, or should I say wannabe cynical and exploitive? Judging from the size of the crowd (nonexistent) this weekend, maybe it's not even working for them.