A Super Bowl halftime show featuring pole dancing, pelvic-thrusting and risqué costumes sparked plenty of pushback from moms and dads on social media Sunday night and also a word of disappointment from the Parents Television Council.
Although much of the show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira was relatively tame, other parts featured sexually suggestive elements. Lopez entered the stage on a stripper pole. Once she was off the pole, other dancers swung on poles behind her.
Melissa Henson, program director for the Parents Television Council, told Christian Headlines the halftime show crossed a line, even if it doesn’t warrant action by the FCC. The 2004 Super Bowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson famously ended with a “wardrobe malfunction” that sparked an FCC fine (which was later voided by a federal court).
“After the Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime show, the NFL was very careful in their selection of halftime show performers. And so we've had many years now with little or no controversy,” Henson told Christian Headlines. “But between the really skimpy costumes, the gratuitous crotch shots and the dancing on the poles, it was not a classy show. … It's unfortunate.
“I've seen a lot of commentary saying it was a celebration of Latin culture,” Henson added. “But I can't help but think that if Gloria Estefan had been there on the stage, we wouldn't have been seeing that. So I don't necessarily see this as a celebration of Latin culture so much as really just sexualized – and inappropriately so – for what should be something that you can watch with the whole family.”
Others made similar arguments on social media. Several well-known commentators said it sexualized women.
Chantel McCabe, a reporter for the Golf Channel, tweeted, “Stop dancing on a stripper pole on the biggest stage and then complain about how often we get sexualized. … The hypocrisy of wanting to not be seen as sex symbols but then wearing outfits and choosing overtly sexual choreography has me v confused.”
Stop dancing on a stripper pole on the biggest stage and then complain about how often we get sexualized.— Chantel McCabe (@ChantelMcCabeGC) February 3, 2020
Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition for Exodus Cry, an organization that fights sexual exploitation and the sex industry, wrote on Twitter, “During the #SuperBowl we saw fully clothed men getting applause for their skill, strength and talent. We then saw half-dressed hyper-sexualized women getting applause for grinding their a--es and writhing on a stripper pole. What’s the message here for boys & girls watching?”
Pro-life advocate Abby Johnson tweeted, “On the day of the highest rate of sex trafficking, the NFL says, ‘Hey, let’s have two women dance half naked and get a bunch of zoomed in crotch shots of them. That’s female empowerment!’ Do they have no clue that they just contributed to the commodification of women?”
On the day of the highest rate of sex trafficking, the NFL says, “Hey, let’s have two women dance half naked and get a bunch of zoomed in crotch shots of them. That’s female empowerment!” Do they have no clue that they just contributed to the commodification of women? #SuperBowl— Abby Johnson (@AbbyJohnson) February 3, 2020
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Winter/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.