As a woman of color, the Super Bowl halftime show was inspiring
This year’s NFL Super Bowl halftime show was fabulous, or so I thought, as I watched the festivities while doing my homework. I had resolved to stay disconnected while watching the game on Sunday, Feb. 2. The game was such a good one, and although I didn’t like all the commercials, they were nonetheless interesting (or confusing) enough to sustain my interest. The game itself held my undivided interest, and though I was not rooting for either team, I was rooting for the totality of its spectacle: the snacks, the ads, the throwback to the olden days of four TV channels and, long before I understood the game itself, the halftime show.
In the last few years, however, the halftime show has become harder to watch. Perhaps it’s the high definition TV, which allows me to see each and every flaw of the performers. Perhaps it’s the nature of the content, perhaps it’s that I now know more about the NFL itself and that I understand the movements and the lyrics far better than I did when I was ten.
Still, I have been a fan of both Shakira and Jennifer Lopez since nearly the inception of each of their respective careers. I first learned about J.Lo when she starred in the movie “Selena,” and at some point I heard she used to be a dancer on “In Living Color.” I followed her career through her romantic comedies, her CDs and her dances. I followed her personal life through her marriages and almost marriages, and since she is only a few years younger than I am, and she is from my generation, I could not help but make those comparisons. No, of course I can’t sing or dance or act like she does, but in my mind, I certainly could. In some ways, she has been a role model for me in terms of what a woman can do, and how she has persevered despite the negative press she has received through the decades.
In a similar vein, I followed Shakira’s career, though not as assiduously, and I purchased her first English CD, “Laundry Service,” that I played endlessly in my car. I subsequently bought her other CDs, and I watched her concerts on YouTube. It was because of Shakira that I was inspired to learn more about Colombian culture.
To me, both these ladies seemed to only get younger with time. Having seen their performances both on TV and online, I wasn’t exactly dismayed or shocked by the halftime show, although I had to take my glasses off because at times I felt as if I was receiving too much information that my eyes would not be able to unsee. As a woman of color, I was proud to see a woman of both Colombian and Lebanese descent as well as a woman of Puerto Rican descent headline the halftime show. And compared to seeing the shirtless Adam Levine last year, seeing glitter, sparkle and fringe was a welcome respite.
The show was a technical tour de force. A lot goes into producing a show of that magnitude, from organizing the performers and the volunteer dancers of various ages and genders on stage, to choreographing the pyrotechnics, as well as managing the sound system. When I posted my admiration of the halftime show on my Facebook feed, well, I got some pushback. One person noted that Shakira lip synched. To which I responded, “Well, it’s a show, not an acoustic recording.” Shakira is a dancer … a performer … and entertainer! As such, in order to put on the best possible show, she took measures to ensure that she was able to do the dancing without resorting to a body double, with tons of energy I might add, and well, singing live in person compromises all that. But it isn’t 1990, and Milli Vanilli got a lot of flack for their performances as have others over the years. Nowadays, the show is the thing. And technically, it’s impossible in large stadiums for the sound to sync live, and at those concerts performers can be disrupted by the delay and echo as they sing so they must block it out.
J.Lo was on a stripper pole, or an “exercise pole,” and more power to her for that. I figured it was a great cross promotion for the movie “Hustlers,” and a chance for her to show the skills she may have learned while preparing for her role.
As the headliner of the two Latina girls’ performance, J.Lo was on the stage a lot longer, with frequent costume changes, each a bit more revealing and daring than the previous one. It is not 2004, and I thought we had moved beyond being horrified by seeing skin, or fabric in the color of skin. I lightly poked fun at the integrity of some of the costumes’ fabric. Frankly, I loved the pink ball gown skirt the most. I honestly didn’t know the young girl singing was her daughter, and it doesn’t matter. Yes, there were children in what looked like bird nests or scalp massagers, and yes there were young dancers on the field and the stage. Trust me, they wanted to be there. It’s quite a feather in one’s cap to be in a halftime show. I did not believe the show was provocative enough to send children out of the room. At younger ages, unless told what is going on, children don’t really understand the nuances of the performance. Yes, it is sexualized, but guess what, sex sells, this is how human beings are wired, and societal norms are different now. This country was founded by Puritans, but biology doesn’t change that quickly.