Would you really be reading one of my columns if it wasn’t about the Super Bowl Halftime Show? I mean, really. I bet there had to be at least one person that thought “I can’t wait to read what Tiffany has to say about this” as they watched the event.
Maybe I’m way off base, but typically, if I can pull an EDGE related article out of a sporting event, I’ll do it. I mean, just a quick glance over my previous columns, and I count several (I really need to come up with better document names).
But rather than jumping in the fray last week, I decided to take some time and let the dust settle. A lot of times, we make choices and judgements based on our emotions, so I was curious if my initial reaction would be consistent with a reaction several weeks later.
I went back to rewatch the half-time show. Besides just not being a good show (no real “ahh” moments for me), I enjoyed watching it the second time just about as much as I enjoyed it the first time (which wasn’t a whole lot).
The most common defense I’ve seen of the performance draws attention to just how fit these women have to be to perform the way they performed. Let me say I am incredibly impressed by the dancing of both women. From traditional Latina dancing to the more, ahem, modern style of dancing (I suppose it is still considered “dancing” even if a pole is involved), the physical fitness of both performers cannot be questioned. Jennifer Lopez in particular is 50, and by far out danced even some teens and young adults I’ve seen. Honestly, I sometimes get winded just getting dressed in the morning (okay, not so much now, but this was certainly true near the end of each of my pregnancies).
The next argument is in support of just how beautiful these two women are. Again, I totally agree. JLo had about 10 minutes of intense aerobic exercise, and while there were little hints of sweat, ultimately, her hair and makeup looked better than mine do on my best day, let alone after I go on a 10-minute walk.
I’m not even going to say much against the wardrobe. I’ve certainly seen worse, and I’m a little bit of a sucker for sparkles. So then, where’s my beef?
I hate inconsistencies. In all parts of life. I don’t mind if my kid gets called out for a foul in soccer as long as it’s consistent. Call it every time or don’t call it at all. I don’t mind winter temperatures and weather if it is consistent. I can’t handle all four seasons in a week, or 60-degree temperature differences in 24 hours. I just like things to be consistent.
So when it comes to the most recent half-time show, that’s where my frustration originates. There were so many inconsistencies in that short 15-minute musical performance that I’m simply left shaking my head and ready to throw in the towel.
The Super Bowl is known as the biggest event for sex trafficking (though anti-trafficking group Polaris Project says that’s not the case, as trafficking is a constant problem, not just one that centers around the country’s largest sporting event). Hundreds of thousands of people descend on the host city, so groups use the platform to raise awareness. And this year’s event was held in Atlanta, which according to the city’s mayor, ranks third for trafficking. And with January serving as Human Trafficking Awareness month, it only makes sense that the injustice would be fresh and at the forefront of people’s minds.
So here’s where the half-time show bugged me the most. While people are outside the stadium and working around the clock to raise awareness and rescue victims (which, btw, are not just women) from the bondage of sex trafficking, inside the stadium you have two beautiful and well-known entertainers whose performances mirror bondage through the costumes they are wearing and the dances they are doing. While you have women fresh off the heels of the #metoo movement, you have two bold and powerful women sexualizing themselves in front of what’s arguably the biggest crowd (both in-person and telecasted) they will ever step in front of. And while victims are feeling like every bit of power they have over themselves has been taken away, you have voices stepping in to defend a performance that glorified inappropriate camera angles and groping hands. I read a comment on Facebook that in my opinion, summed the event up perfectly (though this comment was completely satirical. “It was a free show! Men normally pay a lot of money to get shows like that!”
I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself “old-fashioned,” but I do think there’s a lot to be said about why things make us uncomfortable. In a lesson for our sixth grade students, we challenge them to think about a time that someone’s actions toward us made us uncomfortable in one way or another. We may not know exactly why we feel awkward or uncomfortable, but in most situations, it is because our boundaries have been pushed.
So maybe I was more uncomfortable with the half-time show because it pushed my boundaries I have regarding sexuality and the purpose and value of a woman. Maybe it’s just that inconsistencies push my boundaries. Whatever the case, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to expect the message inside the stadium to match the one outside.