ALICIA WALLACE: Forget the game - there’s so much to talk about in that half-time show

Shakira, left, and Jennifer Lopez perform during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Shakira, left, and Jennifer Lopez perform during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Did you enjoy the Super Bowl LIV half-time show?

  • Yes 54%
  • No 46%

13 total votes.


Super Bowl LIV has come and gone, the Kansas Chiefs celebrating their win over the San Francisco 49ers. Conversation continues about the televised event with focus on at least four areas – the US president’s tweet placing the team in the state of Kansas when it is actually in Missouri, boring commercials, Jay Z and Beyonce sitting during the national anthem - and the half-time show. As always, people have a lot to say about the latter. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, Latina performers known for both singing and dancing, shared a stage for the first time.

The selection of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez for the half-time show was announced late last September by Jay Z’s Roc Nation which entered a controversial deal with the NFL which involves producing the show. It said this selection was intended to highlight the Latin culture of host city Miami.

There are, of course, many reactions and interpretations of the half-time show, most of them closely tied to Latin culture, stereotypes of Latin women and the ideas people already have about the performers. The visuals, while not overtly political, were not without meaning. It was completely possible to watch and enjoy the show as mere entertainment, but there were symbols and signs at varying degrees of visibility. It seemed to draw attention to the way women – Latin women in particular – are sexualised and their bodies seen as objects, separate from their humanity.

It also brought to mind the way cultures are often stolen and misused, yet degraded at the same time. Cultural appropriation continues to be an issue people do not understand, many not caring to understand, and the visual of Shakira belly dancing with the rope around her wrists to the excitement of the crowd seemed to symbolize the way we eagerly consume content without thinking about the origin, ownership, omissions or consequences. On a lighter note, it was great to see Shakira continue to honour her own heritage, bringing Lebanese dance to her Colombian-influenced Latin music.

Shakira perfomed She Wolf, Empire, Whenever Wherever, I Like It (with Bad Bunny), Chantaje, and Hips Don’t Lie. In her performance, she played guitar, belly danced, crowd surfed, and included a zaghrouta (Arabic tongue-trilling). She also joined Jennifer Lopez’ performance later on to play the drums. Jennifer Lopez’s performance included pole dance and popular songs Jenny From the Block, Ain’t It Funny, Get Right, Waiting for Tonight, Que Calor and Mi Gente with J Balvin, and On the Floor before what was perhaps the most provocative part of the performance. Her daughter Emme Maribel Muniz joined her to sing a mashup of Let’s Get Loud and Born in the U.S.A.

There were children in cages during the song, clearly speaking to the immigration crisis in the US which includes children being separated from their parents and kept in cages. The song choice was a clear call to Latinos to refuse to be silent.

The venus symbol, shown from an aerial view, represented the role women have consistently played in calling out and responding to human rights violations. Adding to the visual, Jennifer Lopez emerged in a feather coat (by Versace) depicting the US flag on the outside, but she revealed the inside was the Puerto Rican flag. Born in the USA was a reminder that Puerto Rico is a part of the U.S.A. This expands the subject to the lack of support Puerto Rico is receiving from the US government following the devastation of hurricanes and earthquakes as the country continues to work toward recovery.

The NFL is rife with controversy, from violent players to its anti-blackness and treatment of Colin Kaepernick. It was confusing to many with Jay Z entered a deal with the organization, but it is increasingly understood that he is more committed to capitalism and building his own wealth than social justice. His and Beyonce’s decision to sit during the national anthem does not absolve him of complicity, especially amid reports that he tried to persuade Shakira and Jennifer Lopez to take it easy with the political statements in their performance. It is commendable that they chose to use the stage to both celebrate Latin culture and people and to call attention to the current state of affairs and encourage Latin people to take action.

The half-time show did not go without criticism. People took to social media to highlight the absence of Afro-Latinos. Some pointed out that the dancers included darker-skinned people (though there is no way of knowing whether or not they were Latino). The question now is whether or not it is good enough to be in the background, or part of a larger group. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez could have invited Afro-Latinos to perform with them, and Roc Nation could have made an effort to bring more Latino diversity.

There is always more work to do, ways the work could be done better and people to involve in planning processes so there is less to lament when it is all said in done.

And when it comes to the dating game, we need to communicate

It would be nice to believe dating is not a game, but all signs point the other way. It is always fascinating to hear different points of view on what it actually means to date, acceptable forms of dating and the perceived roles of each party.

This week, a conversation about dating was sparked by a tweet about a first date. Someone complained about their date ordering food that totalled $40 in addition to alcoholic beverages. He does not share the entire sequence of events, but noted that she asked if he had an app so she could send him money. He decided to pay half of the bill, noting that he ordered much less. He goes on to say that on the second date, the bill was almost $60. He told her he was not covering the bill and, by his account, she seemed upset. There is often the expectation that the person inviting another person out will take care of the bill unless otherwise discussed. Perhaps this needed to be explicitly stated, no matter what.

The real issue here is not who orders what, who pays for what, who asked whom on a date, or anything of that nature. The issue is the lack of communication. If you are not able to talk about where the date will be, what the average cost is and who will cover it, you may need to pause on the dates. You are not ready to be in the company of another person. It is, of course, best practice to be prepared to pay the bill, whether or not you expect it to be necessary.

The young man’s tweets started an interesting side conversation about appropriate dates. Someone suggested that coffee or ice cream as a first date is a clear indication of what the person is willing to spend. This could be the case, but there could be other factors involved. If you don’t know a person particularly well – and the purpose of dating is to get to know someone – it is probably a good idea to keep the budget low, but also to keep the time commitment relatively low and steer away from intimate settings. Why sit through a three-course meal when one scoop was all the time you needed?

Either way, there are some people who are happy to have coffee or ice cream as a first date while others see it as setting the bar too low. To each their own. We are all entitled to our preferences. It is up to us to clearly communicate them and come to agreements with the people we engage. It is much easier for everyone when we are upfront, saving ourselves disappointment embarrassment and resentment over a $60 bill.


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