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Super Bowl Halftime: Scandal or Sensitivity?

By Kayla Lupedee

The 2020 Super Bowl not only left Kansas City Chiefs fans ablaze over their victory, but it also erupted a build-up of controversial outrage over the halftime performance by Latina stars, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.  

The halftime show was as glorious as possible; shiny outfits with fringe that sparkled with each hip movement, an homage to the performers’ backgrounds and a dance routine that had viewers in awe.  

Well, maybe not all viewers. Social media was quick to spew out derogatory insults and complaints in regards to the performance. Several viewers looked past the excitement and tribute of the performance, complaining that their props, outfits and dances were inappropriate. 

Several older men and women effortlessly pointed out that the pole dancing was unnecessary, the costumes were skimpy and the dances resembled porn. That’s a bit of a stretch. 

Not to mention, I doubt any of the men oversexualizing the performance even bothered to look away. Even one of my own professors made a comment that his father judged Shakira’s belly dancing and J. Lo.’s hip movements, yet his eyes were glued to the TV as if his life depended on it. 

 Let’s think back to previous Super Bowl halftime shows. Last year, Adam Levine started off his performance fully dressed. But, as time progressed, he began removing articles of clothing. First, starting with his jacket and ending the show entirely shirtless. He even threw his clothes into the audience, like it was a strip-tease. Yet, why didn’t anyone bombard him with suggestive comments?

 In past years, all performers dressed as J. Lo and Shakira did. Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Katy Perry are just a few examples of those fashion statements. They all wore body suits, short skirts, or figuring hugging dresses. However, I can’t recall such an outrage from their performances as there was for this one.

 All these women are comfortable and confident in their own skin. Why can’t we applaud them on that? Plus, these women are in their 40s and 50s, and they still look that good. If everyone else looked as good as them and could dance that perfectly at their ages, we’d be flaunting it with pride. 

 Nearly all the critics could only focus on their sex appeal, rather than the actual purpose behind the performance. Shakira and J. Lo came together and gave the country one of the greatest political performances we have ever seen. They took over that stage.

 The use of the Puerto Rico flag on the opposing side of the American flag draped over Lopez was a sign of pride and representation for Puerto Rico. It showed a sense of unity between the two countries. The performance showed that the singers had the backs of their Latino families. 

In a Variety interview, Lopez emphasized the importance of two Latin women taking the stage, “When Latinos are being treated a certain way in this country, or looked at a certain way – to show that we have a really specific and beautiful culture and worth and value, and we bring something to this country that’s necessary.” 

 The performance by Shakira and J. Lo stood as a celebration for who they are and the people they are able to represent. Yet, no one seemed to care about that just because their outfits seemed too distracting for the small minds of our society. 

 Seen in the background of J. Lo’s performance was cages locking in young girls. This was such an important aspect, symbolizing the struggle of immigration and search of freedom in our country. The message was subtle, yet very clear. 

 So, why do people keep talking about the apparently provocative performance and overlooking the significance of it? Viewers are focusing on the wrong things. Our society is too fixated on bringing other people down instead of working together to raise each other up. 

 Shakira and J. Lo created a foundation of support for those that are pushed to the side. They brought culture and spice to Miami, literally nicknamed the Capital of Latin America. Their performance is something that should be applauded, not censored.

Kayla Lupedee can be reached at kayla.lupedee@spartans.ut.edu

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