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.

What’s for dinner tonight?

People root for teams in the Super Bowl and World Series for all kinds of reasons. We build dinner around the two teams playing.

We’ve had clam chowder (Patriots and the Red Sox), New York cheesecake (Giants), and California wine and cioppino (San Francisco 49ers and Giants). Duds have included everything we cooked in 2008 (Steelers v Vikings).

Tonight’s menu includes a new seafood chowder recipe and two New Belgium beers, Fat Tire and Ranger IPA (There are other good microbreweries in Colorado. New Belgium is employee owned and we like their beer).

It wouldn’t be a Super Bowl with the commercials (and wardrobe “malfunctions”). In 2011 Groupon learned how to make a lot of people angry in 30 seconds. And Budweiser seems to always get the right amount of heart-tugging in their ads. My favorite continues to be Volkswagon’s 2012 Darth Vader ad.

Tonight’s game, with all the chicken wings, pizza, beer, chili, and commercials, will have a lot of eyes focused on Seattle’s #40, Derrick Coleman, the first legally deaf player to play in the NFL.

There’s been some speculation about whether Peyton Manning will retire if he goes home with a second Super Bowl win tonight. Manning and his family have been role models among professional athletes, and I would like to see him win another Super Bowl (plus he was great on Saturday Night Live, so maybe a return hosting stint there might happen if Denver wins).

But tonight,  just like twins Riley and Erin Kovalcik, I’m all in for Seattle and Derrick Coleman. Go Seahawks!


Chevrolet gets it all wrong

I like to watch a good football game. Sunday I caught the end of the Broncos-Patriot game (go Peyton Manning) and then watched the entire 49ers-Seahawks game. My husband went to bed but I stuck with it until the trophy was presented (including that horrible interview between Pam Oliver and Jim Harbaugh).

The online world lit up after Chevrolet ran an ad several times during the games touting their High Country pickup truck. The truck looks like it is a thing of beauty, comfort, and performance.

The High Country isn’t built to appeal to people who like tofu, veggie burgers, and kale (and quinoa, based on the Chevy Trucks Facebook page).

Chevrolet said so.

Chevrolet thinks tofu is for women, as the macho truck driving man hands an attractive woman a recyclable  grocery bag while the voiceover says “tofu” (nice touch adding the eco-friendly bag). Ridiculing veggie burgers and kale salad were next on the menu.

But enough of that girly stuff. Chevrolet switches to football jersey wearing men tearing into the food Chevrolet thinks their truck owners eat: beef burgers and grilled chicken cooked over a fire. They close with a visual of the large covered smoker the truck pulled to the cookout, and say of tofu, veggie burgers, and kale, “be damned” (whew-that set off a firestorm of criticism).

The number of American farms owned and operated by women doubled between 1982-2007. The USDA reported in April of last year that 1 Million women are the primary and secondary operators of farms in our country, boosting our ranks to 30 percent of the farm owners in our country. The United Soybean Producers “Farmer Profiles” page includes two women among the five growers featured there.

I’ll bet somewhere on their farms those women have a pickup truck. Maybe a couple of them. I wonder if these women know High Country pickup truck drivers are not the kind of people who eat soybean based foods like tofu or veggie burgers, you know, “girl” foods.

Maybe during the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks Chevrolet will introduce a full size pickup truck that is only powered by renewable energy. In pink. With cup holders designed for yogurt containers and hummus. Because women deserve a “special for us” choice in pickup trucks too.

No Dodging women

The Super Bowl commercials seem to have generated more discussion about sexism, violence, and race than creative”wow” factor (GoDaddy’s Kissfest spot wasn’t just lacking in creativity, Democratic campaign strategist and Sunday morning political pundit Donna Brazil thought viewers may have lost their dinner over it).

Audi seems to land at the top of every critic’s list for the Prom Night spot it ran early in the evening. Forbes columnist Jennifer Rooney summed up the ad’s offenses: sexual assault, violence, and sports car driven machismo (no pun intended). Add Doritos for stereotyping and mimicking little girl’s play, Mars candy making M&Ms unpalatable, and a Calvin Klein ad that left a lot of men thinking they need to put the wings and beer down and clear off the Nordic Track, and the season for Super Bowl ads was pretty disappointing.

And then Dodge Ram Trucks told “The Rest of the Story” complete with a Paul Harvey

The beautifully produced spot giving American farmers much-needed recognition in front of a huge global audience made critics and viewers swoon.  However, Dodge’s commercial was so busy marginalizing women and minorities who farm, that I had no idea whose trucks had just been advertised.

Based on the Dodge commercial one might think that “farmin’ is man’s work” and really, white men’s work.

I counted 12 white men, 2 white boys, 1 white women, 1 black male, 1 Hispanic male, 1 Hispanic woman, 1 white girl, 2 pair of white hands (I don’t know what the gender is of the person holding the baby chick, could be a young boy or young woman), and one white family (with two adult men at the table). I couldn’t determine the race of two men.

The United States Census of Agriculture used to think only men farm too. Up until 2002 it only collected data on one operator per farm, which meant the “womin folk” weren’t counted if there were men folk on the farm.

Between 2002 and 2007 the number of women led farms grew by 19 percent to over 1M women strong. The 2007 US Census of Agriculture reports that 30 percent of our nation’s farmers are women, and we run 14 percent of the farms as the principal operator.

Some of the staunchest allies I have met fighting proposed coal plants in Georgia are women farmers. They understand what will happen when a coal plant begins sucking 16M gallons of water a day from the groundwater that waters their livestock and crops. One woman asked if she could even call her produce organic if it is exposed to such high levels of coal plant toxins. And what will their land be worth if coal emission stacks cast a shadow over their fields?

Laura Norris working in Ben Hill County

My friend Laura Norris grew up, and farms, in Ben Hill County. There are stretches of time when she works her family’s farm alone and puts in long days in steamy south Georgia. Laura told me, “I come from a long line of hard-working farm women. My grandfather was a farmer and his wife and three daughters worked in the fields right beside him. When my 98 year old Great Aunt was in her last year of life, we asked her if there was anything she’d like to do again if given the chance. She smiled and said, “I’d like to crop tobacco one more time…”

Long before there were trucks to drive, women farmed, raised barns, herded cattle, cooked what they harvested, and women made the money stretch a little further.

Farming will make you humble. It will make you stay up at night worrying that there isn’t enough rain, or too much. Will the price I can get support my family? Will we have enough hay this winter?

We need to make a special effort to support the farmers who show up at local farmer’s markets with vegetables still wet with last night’s dew. They are our friends and neighbors, sharing their love of the land in our communities and what it can give to us in return for good stewardship. And millions of them are women.

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