The Cultural Importance of JLo & Shakira's Super Bowl LIV Performance
Super Bowl halftime performances are all about putting on a musical extravaganza. Ever since Michael Jackson's Super Bowl, the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show is a coveted opportunity to display to the world the best songs and showmanship ability a musician has. The fact that the Super Bowl is the most watched television program every year, only adds to the value for a musician to score this most coveted gig.
Some musicians have risen to the task and put on great performances. Others, have tragically underwhelmed. Never the less, whether a halftime show is good or bad, the end result is still the the same: people will talk about it.
Super Bowl LIV's halftime show by JLO and Shakira was nothing short of amazing. Both musicians brought their enviable musical catalogues and wowed viewers with their songs and intricate choreography. The cultural impact this halftime show will have in time, goes beyond the music and showmanship displayed, but on the lessons on sexism, ageism, and race it has to offer.
When JLo and Shakira were announced as the co-headliners for Super Bowl LIV halftime show, the news was not entirely met with support. There is a tendency both in the music industry and beyond to pit women against each other, so when they were announced as co-headliners it was mind boggling to some. A popular thought on the matter, was that both JLO and Shakira should not have to share the stage with the other because both are big enough stars. That assumption is based on the belief that successful women don't play well with other women and if they do it is only out of necessity. However, when male musicians pair up and share a stage or tour billing for example, that's supported, because men don't need to be threatened by other men, since our societal norms always has space for men to shine. For a brief moment in time, the halftime show showed how two of the world's most famous and successful women triumphed together by refusing to play into antiquated sexist stereotypes and expectations.
JLO and Shakira are no spring chickens -- and that's okay!
JLo, 50, and Shakira, 43, are two women who are proud of their age and speak openly about it. Both musicians are in the prime of their careers and performance skill level. Both performers put on a show that demonstrated a career's worth of developed performance skills and hit songs, but acquiring these things takes time. Unfortunately, it's a double edged sword, people want musicians to have hit songs and performance skills but not the age it takes to get these things. Society as a whole has for too long been obsessed with youth and unfairly cast aside those who have aged out of "their best years." Well, neither JLo or Shakira are the type to be cast aside or are past their best years. JLO and Shakira put on a performance that has as of now more than doubled the previous record holder for most watched halftime show. In an industry, in which musicians, especially female musicians, past 30 years of age struggle and have to fight to prove that people still care about their music, JLO and Shakira put on a show the worlds most popular performers in their teens and twenties today could never do. Even JLO and Shakira, could not have put on that show when they were younger, which underscores the fact that instead of holding an artist's age against them, it should instead be seen as a valued testament to their worth and ability.
The Super Bowl is one of the most "American" things you can think of, and for the longest time the word "American" was essentially synonymous with white Americans. As times continue to evolve that is no longer true. American pride is not only reserved for white people in the middle of the country, who have lived in the United States for generations. Instead, American pride is available to anyone regardless of color or even citizen status that loves the United States.
During times in which the American government is haphazardly dealing with border immigration, and separating children from their parents. Some might see it as ironic that the most "American" sporting event has two latinas for their halftime show, but it is not ironic, it is desperately needed because of the power of visibility.
One could talk endlessly about how great people of color are, but nothing is as impactful as seeing it in action with your own eyes. JLO and Shakira demonstrated the musical excellence the latin community has to offer.
When one thinks of the most "American" things, there is one person who easily comes to mind...JLO. That is what makes the visibility she had on the Super Bowl significant. It served as a reminder to America and the rest of the world, that JLo, a latina, is as American as a slice of Wonder Bread or a Ford car. In a time, when people heard speaking spanish in America are sometimes attacked and perceived as "foreign," JLo is an example that being Latin does not make you any less an American.
As part of the later part of her set, JLO brought out children in cages, singing "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen, as a reminder to the children being detained in cages at the border. Some felt this segment of the performance was inappropriate, however, not mentioning the injustices at the border especially towards children caught up in the web of immigration, does not make sense for not just one but two latina artists to do when they have the world's ears and eyes on them.
Ultimately, it is no secret that we do not live in a perfect world. Sexism, ageism, and racism are still issues that exist, and will continue to exist if people at large do not see reason to think otherwise. Some might reduce JLo and Shakira's halftime show as just another halftime show performed by two popular pop singers, and those people would be missing the point. JLO and Shakira's performance directly went against what was expected from two latina women of their respective ages. JLO and Shakira dazzled on stage not in spite of their age, gender, and race, but because of it.