Super Game, Super Halftime Show

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

So if you haven't heard anything about the Big Game (I am unsure of the rules--do I get to call it the SuperBowl or not?) and the ensuing internet melee over the halftime show, you may be living under a rock. I am here, gentle reader, to bring you up to speed.

The buzz over Shakira's and Jennifer Lopez' performances is not only wildly entertaining, but also concerning. So far as I can ascertain, the divide between two camps is as follows: you are A) an unenlightened Puritan who has no appreciation for talent, beauty, mesmerizing dance choreography and athleticism, or B) you are modern and feminist and thinking about signing up for pole dancing lessons your own self because, duh, it the newest frontier in physical fitness and it if you people weren't such prigs it would already be in the Olympics. But summer or winter? Hmmmm.... And the sentiment over both camps was that they are 43 and 50 years old respectively, and I should put down the chips and cheese dip and get my butt to the gym and/or an aesthetician RIGHT NOW.

Possibly these are overstatements, but I think not.

I tend to espouse that the middle ground is a better place to land. You can argue that these two utterly gorgeous creatures are just doing what they do. Their jobs are to capture your attention and entertain you, and the super-sexualized nature of their performance certainly does so. They are physically beautiful. They are amazing dancers and have absolutely beautiful singing voices and great music. The half-time show was an ode to the Latin influence in Miami, and these two women well represent it.

I am no prude. We can go deeper on that later, but suffice it to say for now that I am not. By all descriptions it was a very successful show. On a cerebral level, I can understand the nuance. On a gut level, with my younger kids in the room watching the show, it was very uncomfortable. And no, it isn't terribly surprising. JLo doesn't dress for her shows in a Talbot's twinset and plaid pants and sensible shoes. I get it. But perhaps we can agree that women's empowerment is meant to bring more of the woman's being in to play.

Understand, this is not pearl clutching and gasping. Should we be shocked by the show? Probably not. But it does illustrate the continued slide in what is defined as acceptable family consumption. Yes, it is my responsibility to turn the channel if don't like the programming. Yes, the NFL is fully entitled to show whatever half-time performance they choose. It is up to their shareholders to determine what works and what doesn't for those sorts of choices. Does the NFL have to cater to 8 year olds? No, they don't. And these women are undeniably talented. Too bad the snippet of JLo's daughter's performance is totally overshadowed by all of the other chatter, because that was actually really impressive. Sidenote--did you notice JLo added clothing coverage for the part when her daughter and the other young girls were on stage with her? Check the instant replay for that part.

The gulf here between the opinions I have seen today is nothing new. I can imagine my great-grandparents were horrified by Elvis swiveling his hips, and you can bet that my grandparents were fairly disgusted with Madonna when she writhed around on stage to "Like a Virgin" (which was, in fact, my very first cassette tape album, thank-you-very-much, which I cherished. My aunt bought it for me). As a parent now myself, I cringe a little bit, too. Every generation thinks the subsequent generation is responsible for the cultural rot. Sometimes they are right, but not always. Nothing new here under the sun.

Can you just defend JLo and Shakira and say it is "their choice?" It is their way to express themselves. They can do what they want. Pole dancing? Sure. Of course they can. They are adults. And they have totally awesome music! I know! But what about all of the little girls (and boys) who watched the show? They were just there at the Super Bowl party with their family. Must be totally acceptable...right? It is up to me to be the gatekeeper of what my kids see. This is just part of the responsibility of parenting. But if you watched the halftime show, think of this: Your daughter stands up on the coffee table in front of your grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles and does a reasonable rendition of the dance moves you just watched. What do you say? Your response is probably very telling.

Just a few thoughts for the day...I would love to hear what you think. Drop me a line.

xo, Ann Marie

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