"Bread and circuses," indeed.
I'll admit I had to look up your reference. I don't know if bringing back some semblance of common sense qualifies as superficial re: beards, pony tails, and pantyhose. Certainly not game changers given all the problems we face, but superficial maybe not.
But, what strikes me as odd about your comment, is the originator "used it to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns. The phrase implies a population's erosion or ignorance of civic duty as a priority."
I've wasted enough time trying to create anything that looks like positive, tangible changes within this organization. I've also watched as a General who still hasn't become a salty pickle like myself still wastes his time, with little to no results, and I've come to accept the reality, that this machine requires utter and dismal failure before it will ever change. In the meantime, I'll be happy with my beard, but it's not for lack of caring of the bigger issues. I can do both at the same time, and unfortunately for the little hair I have left, I do.