Super Bowl Sunday. A time for good family fun. A time to stuff yourself with chicken wings, brats, soda, and a few beers while watching a major sporting championship surrounded by family and friends. With tons of food and football, it’s practically a second Thanksgiving!
Around 102 million viewers tuned into the big game yesterday. This year’s Super Bowl – much more entertaining than last year’s snooze fest between the Patriots and Rams – found the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers entering the locker room tied at 10-10 after the first half. As the players jogged off, the football field was transformed into a stage for a halftime show featuring pop singers Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.
Any idea that this was another football-filled family holiday quickly dissipated.
From Shakira came suggestive dancing, writhing, and contortions. Never mind the use of rope while belly dancing through her sexually charged act – did she really just introduce bondage into a plain old sporting event?
Still, the little clothing that Shakira wore was modest in comparison to the butt- and crotch-accentuating black leather bodysuit that Jennifer Lopez appeared in, which gave way to an even more revealing outfit. The amount of flesh on display last night would have made Janet Jackson (of Super Bowl XXXVIII “wardrobe malfunction” infamy) blush. The cameramen knew what was happening last night too, as it seemed one was there solely to collect as many up close and personal shots as possible of the little fabric that was between Lopez’s legs.
And let’s not forget the pole dancing. Yes, the same sporting event that caused Jackson’s blacklisting after Justin Timberlake exposed her breast to its viewing audience is now seeing a halftime show – including Jennifer Lopez’s pole dancing – lauded as “one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows in memory.”
Best for whom? Best for the 10-year-old boy who got an accidental introduction to pornography last night? Best for the young women who were told that stripper poles and thick rope are a part of American sexuality? Best for any girl who has looked up to Shakira or Jennifer Lopez? Best for parents who just wanted to watch a football game with their kids?
Jennifer Lopez is receiving critical acclaim for her acting and pole dancing in Hustlers, a film about strippers drugging their clientele and stealing their credit cards. But this fact does not make such “entertainment” fit for a nationwide television broadcast. Super Bowl XLVII “averaged a 30.2 percent rating with teens,” and a “21.8 percent rating with kids aged 2 to 11.” This is hardly the audience of Lopez’s recent R-rated movie.
The halftime show as a whole was made even worse because, in spite of the high level of sexuality planned for the duration of the halftime show, Lopez apparently did not see a problem with her 11-year-old daughter Emme (and a chorus of youngsters unrelated to Lopez) joining her on stage. While it is commendable that Lopez put on slightly more clothes and toned down the sexuality while her daughter was on stage, the inclusion of minors in any part of this lurid performance is highly questionable.
It is to be devoutly wished that Ms. Lopez’s example is not one that the rest of America’s mothers would seek to have their daughters emulate.
CBS, Janet Jackson, and Justin Timberlake all issued apologies after Jackson’s breast-baring incident. The NFL sued rapper M.I.A. after she flipped her middle finger to the camera during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. Such results occurred because American adults had standards for what entertainment they allowed their children, and themselves for that matter, to view. But last night the NFL and FOX promoted and approved a burlesque show that for much of American history was restricted to the seedier parts of urban landscapes.
The NFL seems to have some desire to reduce the violence of its game and to punish the poor behavior of its players in matters of drug abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of criminal activity. Why then does it not restrain itself from teaching men to treat women as sex objects, and from teaching young women to think of themselves as the same?
[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons-CBP Photography, public domain]