If there’s one thing that’s more over-hyped than the Super Bowl, it’s the Super Bowl halftime show. A tradition since the first Super Bowl in 1967, it’s a cultural touchstone meant to show the world what the United States is really about.
Except, it doesn’t. Not really.
And never was this more evident than in yesterday’s Super Bowl halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
These shows are meant to stir controversy, and J-Lo and Shakira gave the NFL everything it wanted.
No one agrees about what the show meant, but everyone agrees that it meant something.
Critics complain that it was too raunchy, and conservatives weren’t too happy about the twerking and tongue-wagging.
Others claim it was empowering for women – particularly Latina women. They said it represented “historical” progress on racial equality.
The fact is, it was neither.
The Super Bowl halftime show wasn’t about sexualizing American culture, nor was it about equality. Mostly, it was an advertisement for J-Lo, Shakira, and the NFL.
The show’s so-called “raunchiness” pales in comparison to what the overwhelming abundance of internet porn – and yes, your Netflix subscription – makes available at the tips of your fingertips. Consider that before you throw a tantrum about having to see someone’s leg during the Super Bowl.
Not that claims that the halftime show was liberating are any less rubbish.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are both Latinas. But their “empowerment” only exposes – and disguises – how little empowerment other Latinas have in America. They’re still more likely to lack health coverage than white women [Center for American Progress], less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to live in poverty [Bread for the World Institute].
And to reach the top, they had to work with terrible (mostly white, mostly male) people who wanted to use them to make a profit. Men like Tommy Mottola, who signed both J-Lo and Shakira but hasn’t behaved [The Cut] as though he cares one bit about female empowerment [Fox News].
So let’s not get carried away by the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s naive to view it as some kind of definitive encapsulation of what America really is, whether that’s a culture of sexual decadence or egalitarian liberation.
The Super Bowl reveals nothing about the reality of American life. It’s a glorified commercial.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.