Super Bowl half-time was about more than entertainment

Once again the internet exploded over the Super Bowl half-time show. Last night’s show featured Jennifer Lopez (JLo) and Shakira, who were joined by JBlavin and BadBunny. Lopez also shared part of the performance with her daughter Emme, a talented 11 year old with great stage presence.

Children performing during the 2020 Super Bowl

They knew they had an audience and they used it for much more than song and dance. The women sang in Spanish before one of the world’s largest audiences. Children were included as singers and dancers, some making their entrance in theatrically designed cages.

Kudos to Lopez and Shakira for pointing out to the audience that children are being held in cages in our country.

Lopez then donned a cape with the American flag designed on it as she and her daughter sang from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” The singer stretched her arms out and the cape became the flag of Puerto Rico.

Jennifer Lopez wearing a cape designed like the Puerto Rican flag, performs with her daughter Emme during Super Bowl 2020.

She won the Super Bowl by driving home the points that our government is keeping children in cages and Puerto Ricans are born in the United States.

That isn’t why the social media erupted into flames. Many viewers chose to sexualize Lopez’s and Shakira’s amazing athletic performances. These women are famous in part for their ability to sing AND dance, so they took what people spend a lot of money to see in concert to the Super Bowl. Yes they moved their hips and torsos. And yes, Lopez did use a pole to elevate herself above the other performers using only the strength of her own muscles.

Lopez is 50 years old and her strength on that stage might rival some NFL players.

What Lopez didn’t do is take off her shirt like last year’s performer, Adam Levine, in the most recent episode of Nipplegate at the Super Bowl.

The blowback about Lopez’s performance was that it was inappropriate for a “family” television event. I’m not buying that. People slut-shamed her for incorporating a dancer’s pole into her performance.  The intermission entertainment for a violent sport, where there are few people of color and even fewer women in coaching and management, is being criticized for including two Spanish-speaking, talented women, whose performances featured their strong bodies in addition to their singing and drumming talents. Last night’s half-time show wasn’t the problem with the NFL.

Among the Super Bowl half-time shows that I can remember,  I think Prince’s performance with the shadow-casting of the world’s most phallic guitar should have received awards for staging. That didn’t happen by accident. And I don’t remember the internet imploding over his clever sexual performance.