J.Lo, Shakira Deliver Super Bowl Halftime Show Worthy Of All Kansas Cities Everywhere
The Super Bowl is over, and reports confirm we have a winner. The Kansas City Chiefs rallied to victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams provided an admirable diversion between the commercials and the halftime show. But you can't have a Super Bowl without some controversy. We'll get the easiest one out of the way first. Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations for Kansas City but he forgot which state the team represents. He thought the Chiefs are from Kansas but they are in fact from Kansas City, Missouri. (The city gets its name in part from its proximity to the Kansas river.) Former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who might've had a few beers in her, gently corrected the president's geography.
Demi Lovato sang the national anthem, and it was pleasant enough that God spared the crops for another year. However, Beyonce and Jay-Z sat through it, just like anyone would if they were in comfortable, plush seating. Most folks watching at home on their raggedy-ass couches remained seated. Reporters actually tried to reach the two for comment, as though they'd made a larger political statement. Conservatives predictably responded like the couple had slapped America in the face with a bejeweled hand.
America is a capitalist nation not Santa Claus. Beyonce and Jay-Z have skills and talents that Americans willingly pay money to enjoy. The US flag and the national anthem aren't the literal source of their powers like the Eye of Thundera is for the Thundercats.
The biggest news of the evening, however, is that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira might've saved the Super Bowl halftime show from its streak of mediocrity. Their performance, which Jay-Z produced, was epic and mesmerizing. It was my favorite since Prince performed "Purple Rain" in the actual rain at the 2007 Super Bowl halftime. "Purple Rain," by the way, is a song that you should stand for unless you're an absolute monster.
J.Lo and Shakira delivered on all levels: The outfits were fierce, the dance moves were tight and vice versa. Unfortunately, some fuddy-duddies managed to go full John Lithgow in Footloose over the show. It's one thing for our children to watch grown men pummeling themselves on the football field, but seeing women over 40 shake their groove things and belly dance might psychologically scar them. The geniuses at Breitbart complained about "crotch grabbing" as if they've never actually watched football. Most games are practically jock itch commercials. Ever since America's collective freakout over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," conservatives have acted as if this little gladiatorial contest is a children's puppet show.
A preacher on Twitter called their performance a "bad strip show," and I have to agree because no one got (as my 5-year-old puts it) "nekkid with no clothes on." Pole dancing is actually hard work, and J.Lo showed us live what the Oscars were so foolish to dismiss. Preacher man argued that we've had such "positive discussion about not treating women like sexual objects, then they go and do this." Do what, exactly? Freely and voluntarily do whatever the hell they want with their own bodies? Yes, these badass ladies served up erections nationwide, and men still have to let them vote and own property. It's the 21st Century, boys.
It wasn't all just rump shaking from J.Lo and Shakira, though. There were bold and moving political statements -- you know, like actual art. J.Lo sang "Born in the USA" while wearing a custom superhero cloak from Versace with the American flag on the outside and the Puerto Rican flag on the inside. She was joined by her daughter, Emme, who was adorable but also had solid pipes because adorable only goes so far.
During the song "Let's Get Loud," a children's chorus performed while inside lighted arches (or cages). It was a profound and effective statement. J. Lo and Shakira crushed it, and most importantly, they probably knew which state they were in at the time.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).