The Super Bowl halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira has sparked a heated debate online. While some have praised the performance as an example of female empowerment and a celebration of Latino culture, others have criticized it as being tantamount to softcore porn. Which view is valid, and should we be shocked given that sexualized performances are nothing new to the Super Bowl?
“I don’t expect the world to act like the church, but our country has had a sense of moral decency on prime time television in order to protect children,” wrote Franklin Graham on Facebook. “We see that disappearing before our eyes.”
Graham went on to say, “This exhibition was Pepsi showing young girls that sexual exploitation of women is okay. With the exploitation of women on the rise worldwide, instead of lowering the standard, we as a society should be raising it.”
Reactions to the Super Bowl Halftime Show
Complaints about the show include that Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were wearing…well, not much, and that their performance featured sexualized dancing, such as a part where Lopez danced around a stripper pole. There were a lot of camera shots of rear ends and crotches, in particular, one in which Lopez touches herself. People were also bothered by the fact that a show with such content featured children, one of whom was Lopez’s daughter.
One woman tweeted, “I’m no prude, but watching it with my 7yo daughter and 11yo son was really uncomfortable. I mean, a stripper pole, FFS. Families gather to watch the Super Bowl.”
Still, many praised the show as a stunning performance and empowering to women. One woman wrote, “I thought it was pretty entertaining. They can dance. It was amped and they are proud of their bodies. Jlo is 50, and she made 50 look good. Shakira is a global do gooder…Nothing beats Gaga’s halftime but that was fun.”
Another posted the following tweet:
One is 43 and the other is 50.
— Loulou (@l_daou) February 3, 2020
Others have pointed out cultural reasons for some of the dance moves and praised the show as empowering to people of Latino heritage:
Some of “twerking” were part of Afro-Colombian traditional dances (Champeta) some were Arab moves, Latino dancing (Salsa Boricua) and some East African inspired. Maybe looking at the show with more cultural openness could have helped? As a Latino, I thought the show was buenísimo
— Miguel Valencia (@lmvalenc) February 3, 2020
Does This Contradict the Point of #MeToo?
However, others say that sexualization is not empowerment and believe the performance is opposed to the awareness that the #MeToo movement has brought us. Christian author Scott Sauls asked, “In this #MeToo era where honoring women has (rightly) become paramount, how do we explain the continued, blatant objectification of women at halftime shows? And why do the women participate?”
In this #MeToo era where honoring women has (rightly) become paramount, how do we explain the continued, blatant objectification of women at halftime shows? And why do the women participate?
— Scott Sauls (@scottsauls) February 3, 2020
Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear weighed in by tweeting a comment from his wife:
— J.D. Greear (@jdgreear) February 3, 2020
Even progressive Christian author Anne Lamott had a problem with the show.
That half-time show was disgusting. I wish I could unsee it but I had cobra hypnosis, and couldn’t turn away.
— ANNE LAMOTT (@ANNELAMOTT) February 3, 2020