Opinion / World

Ascending Olympus in Search of Rihanna

In which Will attends the Super Bowl 57 Halftime Show Press Conference.

I spent the majority of my Super Bowl week on Radio Row, where glamor does not exist. NFL titans are ever present to the point where you stop caring. Look, there’s Joe Montana. Look, there’s Emmitt Smith. Look, there’s Elvis. 

Rihanna is different. 

The football players are interviewed from a chair, and if they’re really a big deal they might get a booth. Not Rihanna. Rihanna got a stage. It was almost completely gold. The backdrop was larger than my bedroom floor, except my floor is not encrusted with LED lights. Here, Rihanna’s face was displayed. Had the set been wrought of emerald and not gold, the production would’ve felt downright Oz-ian. 

Hundreds of media clambered in for a glimpse of Her Rihannaness. We were a vacuum-sealed sardine tin at the bottom of the Marianas trench. Many credentialed media cronies were trampled in the rush to the mult box. We who gained purchase rationed our air: one breath every 45 seconds. Rihanna demands sacrifice, and how we sparred to offer it! 

The golden set had a cleft to one side, from whence we knew Rihanna would emerge. It was Asgardian, the rainbow bridge between the mortals and the gods. Every eye was fixed upon it. It was the conduit that allowed the immortal to take corporeal form so that they might walk among us, and talk about what they’re going to sing at the football game. 

Then the music stopped. The lights dimmed. And an unseen voice proclaimed: “nine-time Grammy Award winner Rihanna is about to take the stage—in just a few more minutes.” 

What a tease! Gods are such teases! The producers could have kept us there for days if they dimmed the lights every five minutes. 

First came the pregame acts: Chris Stapleton, Babyface, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. They are stars in their own right, but their flames do not burn nearly as brightly. Internally we booed them. Get off Rihanna’s stage! Babyface and Stapleton professed that they were rooting for Rihanna to win the Super Bowl, despite her not even being a contestant. Fools! We did not trample our brethren for you!

We ended up waiting 34 minutes. Thirty-four minutes where every time the ghost of a person emerged from behind the golden cleft the energy in the room was heightened. Reporters shifted their balance and leaned their chins over the retractable belt barriers and pressed the little red dot on their cameras and captured– a PA in a Detroit Tigers cap eating a banana who, for a millisecond in the mind of the throng, was Rihanna. 

But you would not want to miss The Moment. What moment? When she lumbered to the couch? When she aimlessly bantered with the host about her deific problems? When she revealed nothing in regards to her plans for the concert? Gods do not have to be interesting to be doted on. Rihanna is the moment, and we relished her tedium. For what? For blurry iPhone photos? We could post them online and garner so many Instagram DMs from women we hadn’t talked to since high school. It would be Elysium. 

Here we media rose above her lowly, shrieking fans. We sacrifice our oxygen, but she takes from them their dignity. We few, we constricted few, who beheld her sacred visage! The plebians were unworthy to do the same, on account of their cameras being much less expensive. 

And then Rihanna arrived. 

Halfway through I got a text from my boss. He needed me to return to Radio Row and hold a fill light for Tony Dungy. I texted my acknowledgement, freed myself from the melee, and trudged back to the land of the mortals. 

Will Klumpenhower is very familiar with mortals, having spent many years as one himself. You can follow him on Twitter at @wklumpenhower. If you see him in person make sure to thank him for his writings and give him a grateful handshake.

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