History seems to love putting bookmarks into the pages of society during Halftime Shows. Once again, memories were made for people from all walks of life on Sunday, February 2 as Shakira and Jennifer Lopez danced their way into homes all over the country during the Super Bowl LI halftime show. Each woman gave an incredible performance and wowed audiences exceeding 103 million viewers. They put their athleticism on display for the entire world to see and essentially hosted an incredible party while bringing the highlights of their 20+ year careers to the front and center.
It was high energy, fun, and sexy, everything anyone could want from halftime shows. Right?
If history has shown us anything, it doesn’t matter how incredible someone performs or how artistic and creative their set design is, you can’t make everyone happy. While this performance was fun and exhilarating, suffice it to say, the country was immediately divided. This was proved on Sunday night and well into Monday morning (Oh, who are we kidding, people are still upset) as the internet lost its mind over their fifteen-minute performance.
Give Them A Break. Performing Is Hard Work.
Let’s be real: No matter how bright and shiny someone seems, we are all real people with real feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. If this performance wasn’t your cup of tea, then the remote was probably somewhere close by. If not, there was most likely a smartphone or other media device that could have earned your attention for a few minutes. We are all adults who have full control over how and where we spend our time.
Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, its effect on children’s eyes, or the political message it wanted to achieve, it should be noted that the physical standards for achieving a performance like this must be met a long time before someone even sets foot in the stadium.
Not only is she moving and shaking nonstop for 15 minutes after rehearsing for months on end, memorizing camera angles, choreography, and remembering where she can go for technological support, but she also has to make it look effortless and fun. She also has to sing in a skintight costume. And, if you’re Jennifer Lopez, she also has to hold herself steady upside-down on a pole while singing.
The Super Bowl Halftime Shows are broadcast live to the entire country, and for the performer, this is a once-in-a-lifetime shot. And, you only get one chance to get it right.
Parents, Use Your Discretion
So, the ladies were in skimpy clothing and doing dances you usually can’t see in person until your 18th birthday. I understand where this opinion is coming from more than most. Being raised in a Southern Christian household, I was raised to be modest and keep my own business just that-my own business.
Like many other Mamas around the country, I was painfully aware that I would have some explaining to do to my 5-year old daughter about what the “pretty lady was doing on the pole.” It was also not lost on me that these ladies were not wearing pants for their performance, or that their hips were moving in such a way that I was concerned for the health of their lower backs, but at the same time, I am a white, American woman.
As a person who chose to watch the Super Bowl Halftime Show from start to finish, I was cordially invited to a Latina dance party-in MIAMI. It was a fun, sexy, and cultural experience. But, a special occasion does not mean you throw discretion to the wind. Anything you bring into your home must pass muster, and if it doesn’t, you can’t blame a network for exposing your children to something that you allowed.
Jennifer Lopez was joined by her beautiful look-alike daughter on stage singing “Born In The USA”, and this sweet moment was quickly followed by dozens of children singing together-in lit, styled, and picturesque cages. This political statement was a powerful one that gave many gripers even more reason to complain (if the absence of pants wasn’t already enough).
Then, came the finale. The ultimate celebration. The energy was higher, the voices were louder, and the dancing was more intense. The image of these beautiful Latina women entertaining the entire country on stage, surrounded by Latino children and backup dancers in a city known for its beautiful and vivid Latino culture was stunning, empowering, and made me glad that I allowed my daughter to continue to watch it, even if I had some questions to answer later on.
You Aren’t Worried About The Right Things
Many people have brought up the issue of “feminism” and even the “Me Too” movement when discussing this performance. But if you strip away all of that, you are left with a racy, exciting, and energetic show that highlights the American Dream being achieved despite forces working against you every step of the way.
Also, if we allow ourselves to drop the illusion that these women were the most radical thing anyone has ever seen during the history of halftime shows (Janet Jackson, anyone?) then perhaps the fact that Michael Jackson was known to grab his crotch multiple times per show can come to the front of our minds and allow the anti-feminism comments to float out of our minds.
Read More: Why We March: An Open Letter To My Children
If people are so concerned with what their children are exposed to while watching the NFL, perhaps they should skip the games altogether because a racy costume during halftime shows is nothing compared to the millions of dollars in cover-ups of abuse and scandal the NFL has spent to save their star players all in the name of American Football.
If you are bothered by a 50-year-old adult pole-dancing on a television program you decided to watch, but not about children in cages, then you’re bothered by the wrong things.
If you’re worried about the skimpy outfits and gyrating happening on television, but not the fact that the NFL hides domestic violence and child abuse to save face, then you need to take a step back and decide who you are really cheering for.
As an American, I am grateful for expressions of freedom and independence of women of all backgrounds, and I want to model that freedom of artistic expression for my children. I also want them to go bravely into the world and fearlessly advocate for those who are oppressed or silenced. Compared to other halftime shows, this presentation brought beautiful unity and colorful expression to a situation that deserves more of our concerned attention than singers, dancers, costumes, or poles.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Why I Fear For Our Children After The MeToo Movement.