SALT LAKE CITY — Jennifer Lopez is weighing in on that controversial Super Bowl halftime show. But what she says on Instagram won’t appease conservatives who found the performance vulgar and demeaning to women.
In a post published Monday night, the actress and singer wrote, “All I want my girls, the little girls on stage with me and all over the world to know is how to use their voices and be proud of everything they are. We are proud to recognize that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great.”
The post was accompanied by a photograph of Lopez being hugged by her 11-year-old daughter, who was part of the performance Sunday in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.
Despite the presence of Lopez’s daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, and a children’s ensemble, many conservatives have said the Super Bowl broadcast was anything but family friendly.
“I don’t expect the world to act like the church, but our country has had a sense of moral decency on prime-time TV in order to protect children. We see that disappearing before our eyes,” the Rev. Franklin Graham wrote on Twitter and Facebook, adding that “This exhibition was Pepsi showing young girls that sexual exploitation of women is OK.”
Dubbed “Stripperbowl2020” on Twitter, the broadcast featured Lopez and Shakira in sexually suggestive poses and dances, wearing costumes that revealed much of the women’s buttocks. This was not entirely unexpected: Before the game, some sports betting companies had been accepting wagers about how much of her glutes Lopez would reveal. And Lopez is experienced at pole dancing, having played a strip-club dancer in the 2019 film, “Hustlers.”
That film, however, has an R rating, and even if they were interested in the subject matter, few adults would choose to see it with their children or grandmothers. “Why can’t the NFL present a halftime show that multiple generations can enjoy together?” Cari Keleman lamented on Twitter.
Although that wasn’t the only part of the performance that was controversial — at one point, children were depicted in cages, seen as a political statement about President Donald Trump’s immigration policies — it was the pole dancing and simulated sex that sparked the most outrage. “Crotch-grabbing halftime strip show reminds world NFL is against objectification of women,” said one meme making the rounds on social media.
Many people, however, said they loved the show and its energy, and called it historic because both of the star performers were Latina.
Previous halftime shows have prompted similar outrage, most notably Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 in which a portion of her breast was shown. The Federal Communications Commission received more than 200,000 complaints about that show, which then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell called a “classless, crass, deplorable stunt.”
The singer known as M.I.A., who performed with Madonna in 2012, extended her middle finger in that show, prompting an apology from the NFL that read in part, “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans.”
The FCC also fielded complaints when Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine removed his shirt during the halftime show in 2019, according to a report from WRDW, a television station in Augusta, Georgia, that examined Super Bowl-related complaints over the past five years (not all FCC complaints involved indecency; one person wrote to complain that the Super Bowl should not be on TV because controversy over the New England Patriots’ ball-deflating scandal makes the broadcast a fraud, Meredith Anderson of WRDW reported).
According to Darren Rovell, reporting for ESPN, Super Bowl performers sign contracts saying the show and costumes “must comply with the NFL’s standards.” What those standards are for what the NFL calls “pop culture’s biggest event” is unclear, although M.I.A.’s gesture crossed the line. The league sought to collect more than $16 million in fines; the matter was ultimately settled out of court and details were not made public.
As of Monday afternoon, the FCC had said nothing publicly about the number of complaints regarding the Feb. 2 show, nor had the NFL, which posted the 14-minute performance on its website.