How a Stripper-Pole Halftime Super Bowl Show Can Give Us Hope

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“The #Superbowl is the only time of the year when it is socially acceptable to watch half-naked women with your family.”[1] This was the reaction of a 16-year old boy after watching the Super Bowl LIV halftime show. Indeed, pop culture icons and multi-platinum-selling superstars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez continued what has become a tradition of providing a hyper-sexualized halftime performance during Super Bowl LIV. Crotch grabs, booty-shaking, low camera angles looking directly up what little existed of Shakira’s skirt as she vigorously gyrated, and a belly dance led former Bachelorette contestant Tyler Cameron to tweet, “JLo and Shakira have me sweating.”[2] More shocking to some was Jennifer Lopez who made her entrance clutching a stripper pole, performing her risqué dance routines in front of her 11-year-old daughter. At one point, she even mimicked the crucified Christ atop her stripper pole as throngs of dancers bowed before her.[3]

Celebrities[4] and the media[5] hailed the rump-shaking, stripper-pole themed performance as a nod to female empowerment, calling it “a multicultural, get-me-on-the-dance-floor performance celebrating women, mothers, middle-agers, Latinos, Puerto Rico, Arabic culture, Africa, dancing and kids.”[6] However, others considered the show to be obscene and questioned whether it should have come with a parental warning.[7]

Shocked parents tweeted, “I’m no prude, but watching it with my 7yo daughter and 11yo son was really uncomfortable.”[8] Likewise, “That was completely an immoral, classless soft porn pole dancing performance! How dare you allow something so provocative knowing children were watching. Then having children perform around these TRAMPS.”[9]

Obviously, these parents have not yet noticed that this smut has been trending for so long that it is now practically a Super Bowl tradition. Child sex-symbol Britney Spears performed in 2001, and Jessica Simpson performed with the Dallas cheerleaders in 2004. However, 2004’s halftime show is best remembered for Janet Jackson’s wardrobe “malfunction” when Justin Timberlake exposed her bare breast to the world. Gay icon Madonna performed with Nicki Minaj in 2012. Beyoncé’s aggressive and sexualized alternate personality, Sasha Fierce, appeared with Destiny’s Child in 2013. Katy Perry sang “I Kissed a Girl” in 2015. And Lady Gaga sang her queer anthem “Born This Way” in 2017.

The Boston Herald responded to this outrage by writing, “Oh, but the halftime show wasn’t family friendly! What are we teaching our girls? Those skimpy outfits! The stripper pole! J-Lo and Shakira have corrupted our youth! Spare me the whining.”[10] Others challenged that the scant outfits worn by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez weren’t any worse than the outfits worn by NFL cheerleaders.[11]

Without a doubt, the Super Bowl halftime show miserably failed to meet any reasonable family friendly standard, and nobody should celebrate it. Indeed, according to per-minute data from Pornhub, the Super Bowl halftime show sent throngs of people to the sight with Pornhub searches for “Shakira” and Jennifer Lopez” increasing 1,401% and 381% respectively.[12] But we should not pretend that a sexcapade during the Super Bowl halftime show is unexpected. Honestly, we’ve reached the point where it would be surprising if the performance were not a hedonistic display of self-objectification and eroticism. If anything, the Super Bowl halftime show exposes the fraud of prime time television being family friendly.

How family friendly is typical evening programming? Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that prime time television is a safe place for children. Kylee Zempel writes in the Federalist, “The scanty outfits Shakira and J. Lo sported resembled nearly every costume displayed on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ which has been filling ABC prime time since 2005. Do you prefer television centered on an unmarried couple in an open relationship banging in a windmill? Sure, switch over to an episode of ‘The Bachelor,’ or turn it up a notch with ‘Bachelor in Paradise.’ Welcome to weekday prime-time television, folks.”[13]

Our culture is so inundated with sexual content that we’ve learned to desensitize ourselves to it just to cope. We have become so numb that it now requires a mother dancing on a stripper-pole before her 11-year-old daughter to prick our consciences! And when this occurs, we become upset with others, such as the NFL or the Federal Communications Commission. In reality, we ought to be upset with ourselves for failing to care that even “family friendly” prime time television has become obscene.

Such fleeting moments of outrage over moral decency remind us that something is dreadfully wrong! Before we lose our indignation and allow ourselves to become further numbed by our cultural degradation, let’s seize the moment to repent of our complacency and ask God to restore our sense of moral purity. Let’s self-examine ourselves and confess where we have been complicit in fostering a sexually immoral culture. Then let’s plead for mercy on behalf of our fallen and debased culture.

Oddly enough, Jennifer Lopez’s stripper routine during a family friendly event should give us hope. It means our national conscience is not yet dead. The fact that enough people expressed their outrage on social media to merit media coverage of their sentiments indicates that it is not yet too late to see change.[14][15][16] But this will only happen if God’s people elicit continued grace and mercy from God while boldly declaring His truth within our immoral American culture.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Arroyo, Raymond (@RaymondArroyo). “My 16 year old just now: “The #Superbowl is the only time of the year when it is socially acceptable to watch half-naked women with your family.” #PepsiHalftime #theseKidsDontLie.” Twitter, February 2, 2020, 8:16 p.m.

2. Cameron, Tyler (@TylerJCameron3). “JLo and Shakira have me sweating.” Twitter, February 2, 2020, 8:24 p.m.

3. ChurchPOP Editor. “Jennifer Lopez Blasphemously Mimics Jesus on Stripper Pole at Super Bowl Halftime Show.” ChurchPOP, February 3, 2020.

4. Vo, Lam. “J.Lo Brought a Stripper Pole to the Super Bowl and the Internet Lost It.” Buzzfeed, February 2, 2020, 9:16 p.m., ET.

5. Pareles, Jon. “Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Restore Sparkle to Super Bowl Halftime.” Music. New York Times, February 2, 2020.

6. Heslam, Jessica. “Jennifer Lopez and Shakira a Super Duo, Stripper Pole or Not.” Boston Herald, February 3, 2020, 7:48 p.m. Last updated February 4, 2020, 6:55 a.m.

7. Smart, Gil. “Super Bowl Halftime Show Should Have Come with a Parental Warning.” Opinion. USA Today, February 3, 2020, 12:04 p.m., ET. Last updated February 4, 2020, 12:41 p.m., ET.

8. Messmer, Jennifer (@JLMezz). “I’m no prude, but watching it with my 7yo daughter and 11yo son was really uncomfortable. I mean, a stripper pole, FFS. Families gather to watch the Super Bowl.” Twitter, February 2, 2020, 9:47 p.m.

9. Edmonds, Lauren and Valerie Edwards. “Too Sexy for the Super Bowl! Parents Slam J-Lo’s Pole-Dancing and Shakira’s Tongue-Wagging Half-Time Performances Blasting That They Were Inappropriate for Kids.” Daily Mail, February 4, 2020, 2:16 a.m., EST. Last updated February 4, 2020, 3:27 a.m., EST.

10. Heslam, “Jennifer Lopez and Shakira a Super Duo, Stripper Pole or Not.”

11. Wright, Jennifer (@JenAshleyWright). “For everyone freaking out over the scant outfits worn by J Lo and Shakira last night: here is how cheerleaders dress, I’m sorry you’ve never seen them before.” Twitter, February 3, 2020, 3:37 p.m.

12. Zempel, Kylee. “Don’t Pretend That Shakira and J. Lo Super Bowl Sexcapade Was Surprising.” Federalist, February 4, 2020.

13. Zempel.

14. Edmonds, “Too Sexy for the Super Bowl! Parents Slam J-Lo’s Pole-Dancing and Shakira’s Tongue-Wagging Half-Time Performances Blasting That They Were Inappropriate for Kids.”

15. Trepany, Charles. “Jennifer Lopez, Shakira’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Sparks Debate: Empowering or Objectifying?” USA Today, February 2, 2020, 9:37 p.m., ET. Last updated February 3, 2020 4:26 p.m., ET.

16. Harrington, Jim. “Shakira, J.Lo Super Bowl Halftime Show Too Close to ‘Soft Porn’?” Mercury News, February 3, 2020, 12:08 p.m. Last updated February 4, 2020, 4:46 a.m.


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