A day after the Super Bowl that featured a thrilling game where the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, the only thing people really want to talk about is the halftime show.
I can summarize it pretty easily by calling it for what it was. A hyper-sexualized strip show with anti-Trump political messaging that shields itself from criticism by hiding behind the two highly talented Latina musical and dance artists who brought elements of their culture and children forward.
If you want to read more about it, I’ve got an article about it already up.
As I say in the previous article, the politics of it were on full display with children in cages being displayed beneath a female symbol, supposed to represent the “children in cages” at the border that the left liked to ignore until Donald Trump became President.
There’s a different point I want to make about all this, however, and it’s that when it comes to Super Bowl halftime shows or any performance for that matter, I’m so over this hyper-sexulization that is thrust to the front.
No matter how you slice it, and no matter what “cultural” aspects you add to it, the halftime show with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were essentially a burlesque show that, on multiple occasions, had the camera focus on body parts and had suggestive movements.
Here are a few examples. And by “few,” I mean “a lot.”
No, me commenting on a halftime show that families are watching together is not me “freaking out” over said show. It’s simply me saying it’s gross for a family show. Example below: pic.twitter.com/6vt4STiUfl
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) February 3, 2020
Clad in silver and shining like a glamorous disco ball, @JLo descended from a lit pole not unlike the ones seen in Hustlers — a reminder to Oscar voters of what a mistake they made not nominating her. https://t.co/Qci5FSnlud #HalftimeShow2020 pic.twitter.com/tn9ncandy3
— Vox (@voxdotcom) February 3, 2020
internet be trying to pit two amazing, diverse, successful women against each other
— RuNyx (@runyxwrites) February 3, 2020
— Betonsko Dete 👁🗨 (@darkcajld) February 3, 2020
— Coronation 🦁 (@MidsPlacer) February 3, 2020
To be fair, there were moments of pure musical talent, athleticism, and choreography that I thought were great, but those moments were completely overshadowed by the butts, hip movements, and in-your-face sexuality of it all.
As we speak, there’s an internet war raging about how it’s not appropriate for kids, how there’s loads of hypocrisy with #MeToo still hovering above all of us in our mainstream culture and more. While I agree with that, there’s also a point that I feel is being overlooked.
It’s so boring.
We live in an age of technological advancement that wows the senses, and the best we can come up with is nearly nude dancers shaking parts of their bodies at the camera and exaggerating movements they’d make while doing the no-pants dance? You have multiple 747’s worth of talent at your disposal and your big idea is to use them for the entertainment equivalent of fruit that hangs so low that it’s practically rotting on the ground already?
We see this choice at live televised performances so much that I just assume that’s what I’m going to see now. I’m pretty sure I’m going to see nearly naked women gyrated something, and then I’m going to watch as the same people who get angry about the fact that women are objectified go into full defense mode about how a bunch of people objectifying women is empowering for the women.
There are millions of dollars that could have been spent to fill the entire show with a roster of various talent, light shows, and wowing sets, but instead, they settled on a stripper pole, kids in cages, and outfits that would look desperate in any other setting?
It’s old. It’s tired. I’m over it.
Even if the lighting and stage displays didn’t go over the top, and pure talent drives the show, it still turns out so much better. Here are two examples of Super Bowl shows done right.
The first is the unforgettable show put on by Bruno Mars which featured Mars’s talent as a singer and a dancer, while also being able to do something that felt genuine and fun. To say that there wasn’t a sexiness to it would be a lie, but even that didn’t go so far as to be so overt an in your face. What took the lead was talent, energy, and artistry that didn’t rely on an exposed body part to sell it. Even when a shirtless Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage, it didn’t really do anything to elevate the sexual nature of the performance. We’re still focused on the raw talent and fun of the show.
There was even a moment of somberness added as members of our military sent video letters to their families back home. It still goes down as one of my all-time favorite performances.
But one of the most celebrated Super Bowl halftime shows was when none other than Prince took the stage. Prince struck the balance between every element you needed for a good show. There was sexiness, talent, energy, excitement, lights, stage effects, and even an amazing story behind it. It wasn’t overly complicated. It was just good music played well and with performers that didn’t have to rely on being nude to do it.
Even if Prince didn’t have all the other things accompanying him, he still would have put on one of the best shows ever seen, halftime show or no.
We also saw a tremendous performance from U2 after the 9/11 attacks. The show didn’t feature any kind of sex appeal, but it did tug at your heartstrings as the band played their music in front of a giant scrolling projection of all the lives lost during the terrorist attack that took 3,000 lives.
It can be done. We don’t need all the sex, but for some reason, it’s continuously shoved in our faces and we’re told we have to like it or else there’s something wrong with us. These sexualized shows are essentially a fast-food meal that we’re being told to eat over and over again and be glad of as if there’s nothing else out there to eat.
I can’t abide by that. Not only is it lazy, but it’s also repetitive. We have an unbelievable amount of options we can go with in terms of performance but we continue to focus on only one, and it’s not even that good. Sure there’s talent involved, but what good is the talent if you can’t really appreciate it?