Despite this year’s Super Bowl halftime show being phenomenal and full of women displaying absolute power, there have been many contentious feelings surrounding its reception. In case you missed it, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez tag-teamed this year’s Super Bowl halftime show this past Sunday evening. Many were upset about provocative dances and scantily clad costumes but clearly failed to understand the true meaning of the performance.
The fact that people are trying to tear down these women who put on an energetic and inclusive halftime show with more polarization is simply ridiculous to me. We need to stop complaining about women’s bodies and sexuality and start focusing on the things that truly matter – the culturally significant messages interlaced within their performance.
The nearly 15-minute performance started with Shakira performing a high energy medley of her (arguably) biggest hits, including “She Wolf,” “Whenever, Wherever,” and “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Immediately I was taken aback by the energy and the ridiculously talented way in which her body moved throughout the entire performance. I’ve never seen anyone move like that and I likely never will again. Not only were her dance moves impeccable, but she highlighted her musical talents elsewhere during the show, with her playing the guitar and even at one point hopping on the drums during J. Lo’s portion of the show. Her talent wasn’t the only thing that was showcased during her performance, though. Not only was Shakira’s portion of the halftime show astounding, but it was also culturally significant in a multitude of ways that might have been confusing at first glance.
To start, most know Shakira to be very prominently Columbian. She was born and raised there and holds her heritage extremely close to her heart. However, not many know that she is also half Lebanese. To pay homage to her Lebanese descent, she trilled out a tongue vocalization, called a zaghrouta, a practice common to many middle eastern cultures. It’s a way to express excitement and celebration. While it may have looked odd at the time for those who aren’t familiar with it, it was actually a hugely important representation for many people.
As well as this, during the final song of “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” Shakira and her dancers performed a traditional Columbian dance, champeta, that originates from the African descents of Columbia’s coastal regions and is an integral part of Columbian culture. This genre of dance is known for its rapid movements in order to keep time with the drum beats.
When Jennifer Lopez came onstage, this is when things got spicier. Lopez, a seasoned dancer, had to learn how to pole dance for her recent film, Hustlers. She used these skills to the max during the halftime show, where she did intricate moves on the pole in only away the most professional and athletic of dancers could emulate.
This is just one of many issues people took issue with during the halftime show. Many were coining it the #StripperBowl on Twitter and complaining that the halftime show should be something for multiple generations to enjoy, including young children, and many felt that this, along with the scantily clad outfits and the provocative dance moves were simply too inappropriate for the Super Bowl.
But I have a completely different take. It was so empowering to watch these talented women perform the halftime show. Not only are they strong Latina women, but they are mothers, they are confident in themselves and their sexuality, and they are showing that women can be powerful and talented and embrace their sexuality no matter what their ages are.
A particularly poignant moment was when Jennifer Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme, who came out to help sing Born in the U.S.A. By Bruce Springsteen and Let’s Get Loud by Jennifer Lopez. Backed behind them were young girls dancing in illuminated cages, meant to symbolize the children put in cages at the U.S. Mexican border as per President Trump’s immigration policy.
During this part of the performance as well, Lopez came out donning a Puerto Rican flag on one side and the U.S. Stars and stripes on the other, meant to illustrate that Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S., is part of the United States, despite how badly President Trump has treated the territory during his presidency.
Overall, the halftime show with Shakira and J. Lo was powerful, high energy, and showed women that their voice will be heard and that we are truly capable of greatness. Latinas and other cultures were represented with great honor and the entirety of the performance was not only showcasing confidence and sexuality but cultural significance in a time of horrible polarization.