By: Vivian Shillingsburg
The Superbowl Halftime Show has always been about bringing joy to the people watching the big game, making every Superbowl party across America exciting, even if your preferred team is losing. It’s a distraction from the stress of the game, but somehow this year, it turned political. There have been political statements in the past– like when Rihanna declined the invitation to perform in the most anticipated event in music due to the controversial Colin Kaepernick “incident”– but this happens to be the first time that the show has really shown an obvious political stance. Twitter has blown up–as it does for everything–about the racy performance that was put on, but social media is missing the most important point: The whole message the show was bringing.
This year’s Superbowl was held in Miami, where 70% of the population is Latino. The halftime show starred two Latina superstars, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. This show was already controversial to the general media before it even happened. It featured two women who are Latina–two traits that are categorized as minorities in America. While many believe that the two celebrities were chosen to entertain because of their risqué factor, there was much more to it. In America today, immigrants from Central and South America are being persecuted and dehumanized. The purpose of this show was to make America aware of the treacheries that are occurring in our nation today. The NFL chose them to do the show knowing that these two powerful figures would rock the stage while getting their message across.
The show opened with Shakira greeting the crowd, saying “Hola Miami”. This wasn’t too surprising given she is from Colombia, but it did foreshadow the upcoming Latino cultured performance. Throughout Shakira’s performance, before J-Lo entered the stage, she expressed her culture through dance and her songs. Later when J-Lo did appear, she opened with “Jenny from the Block,” which is her song about how she rose to stardom from her humble beginning in the Bronx, New York, and proudly announced her roots to the world. This is a powerful action for those watching who might not be as fortunate, and it shows them that they can rise to the highest levels and are capable of fulfilling their dreams, even if they don’t have everything right now.
Later in the performance, J-Lo’s daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, made an appearance. This might have been the most moving part of the show, not just because it was so beautiful watching Jennifer and Emme sing as mother and daughter together, but because of the set that this part included. Emme entered in a round, illuminated, cage-like pod that was referencing the U.S. immigration enforcement under Donald Trump that put many Latin American child immigrants in detention centers, and separated from their families. This was a brave problem to address during the halftime show, due to the unrest and controversy that it has caused in our country. Another thing that stood out was the part in which J-Lo entered the stage singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A”, wearing a large boa that had the United States flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other. This costume choice served as a poignant to remind Americans that Puerto Ricans are American citizens like you and me and don’t deserve the ill-treatment they are receiving today.
I’m sure that when most of you opened this article you were expecting a rundown on the sexy side of this performance. All the media is focused on is J-Lo’s pole dance and Shakira’s tiny skirts, and while this might be appealing to some viewers, social media is missing the boat. Of course, this show was made to entertain, but that wasn’t the half of it. As I was working on this article, I realized that a lot of people probably don’t even know about the political message in this show. This just goes to show the negative impact that media can have on the world. While it is a great tool to get information fast, we can’t always be sure that this information is accurate or if it’s all of the information to put together all of the pieces. The media isn’t providing an opportunity for people to create their own opinions. It has turned into a place for people with different opinions to compete to convince more people that their opinions are facts. Due to social media and the highly opinionated, the important message of equality and justice was lost, and we were left with a completely wrong and negative perception of what could have been an extremely impactful show.
Another factor that caused viewers to overlook the point of the show was the belief that their provocative dancing was constricting the #MeToo movement, which is actually the opposite of what it did. The #MeToo movement is about justice for women that raises awareness about sexual harassment. Many people on social media have said that this performance was going against the movement, and if they are going to put a show on like that, they shouldn’t be able to stand up for the movement, but this isn’t necessarily true. The point of the movement is to tell society that women aren’t “asking” to be harassed because of the clothes they wear or the way they act, or in this case, the way they dance. This show was actually a perfect way to highlight that belief. A woman should never have to live by a certain set of rules in order to avoid being harassed or raped. A woman is just as equally human as anyone else. The #MeToo movement isn’t about controlling women, it’s about teaching men that women are not toys, that no means no, and teaching women that they don’t have to be afraid to wear what they want or act the way they want. The show did was not undermining the intelligence of women, as some have said; in fact, it was one of the most clever and smart halftime shows in the history of the Superbowl Halftime Shows It was highlighting their power and passion for their beliefs, and absent takinging these impossible standards that women are expected to meet and throwing it in the naysayer’s face.
This might have been the most significant halftime show in the history of the Superbowl Halftime Shows. The message that these two amazing women conveyed was so important in this time when there is such a struggle for unity in our country. My hope is that this is not the last of the halftimes shows that make a positive change in our world today.