Sex, Shame, and the Superbowl


There was something very wrong about the Beyonce act during half-time of the Super Bowl. The thing that was wrong about it was also wrong with a commercial that aired several times during the bowl for a show called Two Broke Girls that featured the main characters of that show performing a striptease, with a pole, licking icing off their fingers, etc. It was also wrong with a “Go-Daddy” commercial in which the model Bar Rafeali, represented the “sexy” side of the business, and a chubby, hirsute male represented the geeky side, or “brains” of the business (the two sides then engage in the most disgusting kiss ever committed to film).

Calah at Barefoot and Pregnant, has written a very good post called “Slut-shaming and the Attractiveness Factor” about how we should not judge Beyonce’s performance, and women/girls in general, on whether or not we find their behaviors “attractive” or sexy, but rather we should judge the objective morality or immorality of those behaviors:


“I do not want my daughter to grow up in a world where the boys and men around her constantly judge her morality in terms of physical attraction. I don’t want her to hear things like, “waiting till marriage is sexy” or “it’s a turn-off when girls smoke”. I want her to hear things like, “your virtue is worth too much to throw away on someone who is not going to commit his life to you.” I want her to hear someone say, “smoking damages your body, and you’re too precious to damage for recreation.” I want her to grow up in a world where men and women talk about issues of virtue and modesty in terms of objective truth, not in terms of sex appeal.”


Calah is absolutely right that women/girls shouldn’t be threatened into virtue at risk of appearing unattractive to men. Not only does it provide little impetus for good behavior, it is also a poor school of virtue for girls.

Performing a strip-tease for an international audience that includes millions of people is not wrong because the gal doing it might be deemed “unattractive,” but because it violates a host of other virtues. It’s a very good point that needs to be made again and again.

Calah also brilliantly points out that if the only reason to behave well is to appear attractive for men, then appearing attractive is also probably a good reason to behave badly, which is why, we might assume, Beyonce’s act played as it did–so that she might appear attractive to the mostly male viewership of the Superbowl.

And yet, there was something terribly unattractive about her show.

To review: Beyonce wore a black leather body suit cut low in the breast, and high at the hip. She wore black thigh high boots. She performed a number of pelvic thrusts that required viewers to gaze on the small triangle of fabric covering her nether-parts, and she spent the entirety of the performance making a very angry face.

By certain objective standards, this was not a beautiful dance. Aristotle says, “a concept of beauty occurs when all parts work together in harmony so that no one part draws unjust attention to itself”

The problem with Beyonce’s performance is that it focused unjust attention on her sexuality. And yet, I suspect the performance did not portray “her” sexuality so much as a sexuality imposed on her, not only by culture at large, but by marketers, choreographers, costume designers–a team of people who had to agree on the image they wanted Beyonce to portray to America during the Super Bowl.

This is where we need to make room in the conversation for shame–not slut shaming, but sexual shame–and our collective lack thereof.

It’s shameful that advertisers and choreographers are so dull, so uncreative, so tired, that performing a striptease is the only move they can think of to appeal to viewers.

It’s shameful that porn and stripping are such quietly lucrative industries that market researchers are eyeing their profits and saying, “Yes, this is what people want for their money, for their entertainment.”

And yes, it’s shameful that so many people are so desensitized that a nearly naked woman gyrating in a fashion clearly designed to ignite the erotic impulse, cannot get a rise out of certain skeezy parts of the population. I don’t quote Naomi Wolf often, but she did say that in a culture where pornography is ubiquitous, and people are used to viewing air-brushed, unrealistically enhanced figures, “real naked women are just bad porn.”

I don’t think it’s wrong to say that Beyonce’s performance failed at being sexy. It failed because it was a highly-stylized corporate “concept” of sexiness. It failed because it aired alongside a number of similarly uninspired commercials proposing similar corporate ideals of sexiness. It failed because people who are immersed in pornography find very few things sexy anymore, and because people who appreciate Aristotelian standards of beauty do not want to see anyone, man or woman, stripped of all the balancing characteristics that make them human and truly beautiful, so that they can be objectified as only one thing–their sexuality.





UPDATE: For clarity’s sake, the Godaddy kiss was disgusting because it sounded like someone stirring congealed dairy products. It had nothing to do with the appearance of the couple.

About Elizabeth Duffy
  • Justyn

    Brilliant. Amen.

    • Kenneth Justice

      Justyn, “Brilliant” isn’t the adjective that comes to mind while reading Duffy’s post.

      Duffy writes, “It’s shameful that advertisers and choreographers are so dull, so uncreative, so tired, that performing a striptease is the only move they can think of to appeal to viewers”

      Really? Is that why you think the advertisers did those commercials; because they are dull and uncreative??? Cmon, lets not be so dull in our thinking and see what is really going on.

      SEX SELLS. Simple as that. It has nothing to do with lack of imagination or being “uncreative”. The advertisers could come up with the most creative commercial in the history of commercials but a simple beer add with girls in bikinis will garner more attention. Whether you like this or not; its true.

      Its also true that Christian men, men who attend church regularly, watch just as much pornography as non-christian men; statistically this is true all across the U.S.

      Reading through the comments on Duffy’s post, it seems as though there is a large consensus in agreeing with her viewpoint. However, look at the title of her post: “Sex, Shame, and the Superbowl” CMON! Now be honest people; how many of you clicked on her blog post because of the racy headline??

      I am honest enough to admit that “Sex, Shame, and the Superbowl” seemed more interesting to me than “Lectionary Reflections for Transfiguration Sunday” and so I clicked on Duffy’s post.

      C’mon people, if your going to slam the creators of the commercials at least use a more intelligent argument than Duffy’s “It’s shameful that advertisers and choreographers are so dull, so uncreative…”

      • Jon B

        SEX SELLS. Is equally as weak as your problem with Duffy’s article. Sex sells is a copout and an excuse used by marketers to get away with shock value and draw attention to their product. What I believe Duffy was saying is using sex and sexuality as a way to market products is the easy way out. Its easier than being intellectually stimulating. It is shameful that they are not able to be more intellectually creative and just throw objectified women holding a product on the screen. Using sex to sell products is uncreative. C’mon man.

        • Cindy

          Jon B….you’re the only one who truly “gets it”! Thank you for putting some LOGIC in this argument!

      • BMart

        Can you please share with us where you got your statistics about the amount of christian men vs. non- christian men who watch pornography? Very interested in where you learned such facts.

      • Seth R.

        Your response is a complete moral copout Kenneth.

        Sure it sells. So what?

        The better question is WHY it sells. Why do these kind of portrayals sell? Who created the climate where this kind of thing is found attractive. Just twenty years ago, a lot of the stuff that passes as “hot” or “sexy” today would merely have been viewed as disgusting – by a large portion of the male population. Who decided where the concept of “sexy” would go, who orchestrated it, and who marketed it?

        Your bleating objections are the same tired argument we hear from the sleazy newscaster who protests “I just give the public what they want to hear.”

        No he doesn’t – he actively tells the public what he believes the SHOULD want to hear. The public then adjusts their expectations accordingly. It’s like the story of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” – no one wanted to be seen as unenlightened enough to find the Emperor’s nakedness amusing – so they all pretended they thought it was fabulous.

        No one wants to be so “uncool” as to think two girls sticking their tounges in each other’s mouths is unattractive, especially since it’s being shown on this top-billed, heavily advertised, heavily budgeted TV series. If all that is going into this depiction, that must mean it’s “cutting edge”, “avant garde” or at least “really hot” and anyone who didn’t think so is just a dowdy throwback akin to Gidget’s dad who doesn’t want her to go to the “luau with Kahuna.”

        You don’t get it.

        We’re supposed to think this is sexy because they tell us it is sexy. And since they have all the budget and say – they must be the ones who are correct. And anyone who doesn’t see the Emperor’s clothes, must simply be a dullard not worth talking to.

        It reminds me of those scenes you see in LA nightclubs. Lots of glazed deer-in-the-headlights looks, pinched faces, and pasted-on phony smiles. Everyone there is absolutely certain that “this is the place to be” and it’s “absolutely marvelous” – and if you don’t think so, that just means you aren’t hip enough to get it. So no one wants to admit they’re actually having a terrible time – but you can see it in their faces. It isn’t fun, they aren’t enjoying themselves, it’s completely fake.

        The same bored forced looks and tone of voice you find in porn flicks, incidentally. Are we having fun yet people?

      • Kevin Mac Gowan

        VW sells cars in America like hotcakes and they don’t use sex to sell. Funny one that!!!

      • Mudnainah Adem

        Are you serious? Sex sells? So.. is that the only thing people buy? Is that how low humanity has sunk. Lord have mercy. Disgusting. I think they could have come up with more creative and appropriate ads.

  • Jane Hartman

    You have it right. Our culture is immersed in pornography and sexuality. We’ve lost all wholesomeness and purity. God help us and have mercy on our souls.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    I asked my husband what he had thought of Beyonce. He said “tell you the truth, I was more captivated by the electronics…” but he IS a geek… :-)

  • Sam

    My 3 teenagers were embarrassed watching it. And with good reason. I can’t believe that the NFL considered it family friendly!!!

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  • SunnyJ

    This is perhaps the ultimate judgement of the hijacked feminist movement of the 60-80′s. The idea was to free women from the paternalistic society and make it acceptable for women to have the same choices and outcome opportunities as men. It was hijacked by the radical liberal left progressive womens front, just like our entire country. The result: After 50 yrs of “freeing” women…they are now airbrushed corporate sexified marketing scams. I can only hope that we are at a breaking point where we really look at where the progressive societal choices we’ve made reach a breaking point and we are able to ask ourselves…outloud…why are women going backward, why are blacks more unemployed, why are the most corrupt hell hole cities on earth commondeered by the Dem political machine, why has selective discrimination replaced equal rights, why has the release the mentally ill campaign resulted in uncontrolled attacks by those that are ill and everyone that knows and sees must be quiet? Why?

    • woodrow wontson

      ” … she spent the entirety of the performance making a very angry face.”

      I think she’s feelin’ it too.

  • http://None Jonathan S.

    Good thoughts! Along similar lines, here are a few comments that my wife and I made last night while watching a bit of the “performance”:
    1) The Victorians would have been scandalized by this. (My wife)
    2) Can you imagine what youth pastors who have gathered with their youth groups are going through right now? I mean… what do you say? Let’s turn the channel? (But really, that’s what should have been done.) (Me)
    3) Mariah Carey’s album cover from 1990 is so different from the one from 2005. What was she emancipated from? (Her 2005 album title was “The Emancipation of Mimi.”) From the same thing society was, I suppose… From morals and propriety. By the time 2005 rolled around, in order to sell records, women essentially had to hit the gym and then remove their clothes for the videos and album covers. No longer was the female voice and a pretty face enough. You had to be the total package… (Sexy gyrations were also no longer optional.) (Me)
    4) This societal moral unraveling has no doubt been sped up by the Internet. (My wife)
    5) Doubtlessly. Among other things, the Internet pushed along “porn creep.” And here we are… watching softcore porn on the biggest event in the world, with multitudes of children watching. And it happened so fast! (Me)

    • http://None Jonathan S.

      Please pardon my poor writing at this late hour… Long day! :-)
      (CORRECTION: I said, women had to remove their clothes by the time 2005 rolled around… I should have said, “remove MOST of their clothes.” Thankfully, we aren’t quite to the point where women pose nude for their album covers…)

    • Zedi

      Nicely put Jonathan, pretty much summed up my take on it.

  • Lauren

    I couldn’t have said it better. You finally put words to what I was thinking the whole time:”I don’t think it’s wrong to say that Beyonce’s performance failed at being sexy. It failed because it was a highly-stylized corporate “concept” of sexiness. It failed because it aired alongside a number of similarly uninspired commercials proposing similar corporate ideals of sexiness. ” It’s not that I didn’t like Bey’s leather get-up, Mrs. Carter just needs to keep that between her and Jay! Beyonce seems like a smart, classy woman to me, and I couldn’t believe she let herself be reduced to what was portrayed at the superbowl. At the end of the show I thought: She is better than that. I didn’t call her a slut or feel any prude bitterness towards her, I just felt a genuine sorrow for the parts of her talent that got cut for the booty. As one of my friends noted, Alicia Keys and J Hudson didn’t need to shake their tails in a leather thong to give a great performance: both ladies stunned and were stunning.

  • Riaz

    Brilliantly explained and virtuos thought indeed this world is going back to the Era when women was treated and believed to be a thing to entertain men and do slavery, this so so so called society have turn the name of nudity and obscensity into WOMEN empowerment and moderation, lets ask them how women is in empowerment with showing off her nude body to entertain others ? Its just kind of slavery in which you just get paid alot of bucks, like above friends have already mentioned ”i dont want my kids to be grown up….” me neither want my daughter to grow up and turn into a sex symbol of few filth men who treat women not more than a THING for pleasure. If we dont change this society which can jeopardize our kids in a form then it will be our fault or fail, lets raise our voice for better furture of our kids!

  • eccentricess

    As a child growing up in the 70′s and 80′s, I loved music videos. To almost see my favourite singers perform their music. To watch the fabulous dance moves and spend hours with friends learning them. I was still watching them at 28 when I had my first child. She adored Destiny Child’s “Say my name” with it’s bright colours and energetic dancing.
    By the time she was two, I had completely stopped watching them, not wanting her to grow up thinking that the soft porn shown on morning TV was something she should emulate.

  • Sol

    This is ridiculous, Beyonce owns her complete image, there is hardly someone who has so much say and power over her own self as she does. This fake liberal feminism is the worst, beyonce has worked hard to be on the top, she included an all women band with her to inspire more girls to get into music (i wish i had seen more of that growing up) , she included some 150 perfomers -all women- multiracial can I add, she was more than sexy, she was powerful, nothing is worse in our society than a woman who is independent, owns herself, has full control like Beyonce, and empowering other women too. Thats as badass as you can get.

    • TheTruth4

      Is that why she also danced half naked for Qadaffis son’s birthday bash..yea real empowerment there and way to set an example for little girls out there. But hey maybe she needed the money?

    • Seth R.

      I suppose you find the crime lord who worked and slaved and bled his way up to the top of a major drug cartel to be an inspirational, empowering and “badass” character as well?

      He clawed his way to the top and now is in a position to push the exploitation of everyone beneath him.

      Oh yes – completely admirable.

  • William Reed

    I have many memories of watching football as a kid and a teenager. I don’t recall any memories of pole dancers or women in skin tight outfits thrusting their hips at the camera. Yes there were cheerleaders but they were very tame and except for their legs they were covered up mostly. Our culture and society are going downhill, no argument from anyone on that point. But why? It is too easy to point the finger and blame the secular society. Is the problem in our churches? Do we preach and teach God’s word as we should? Do we teach our children from a young age the principles of Christianity? I know that you may see my name on several web sites singing this same tune about preaching & teaching, but I will continue to get the word about this until I notice a change in our churches. We need a new Reformation in our day! Start with YOUR church.

    • Blanche Pinson

      William Reed, these have also been my regularly-voiced concerns. We were taught modesty and purity at home, church, Bible camps, and somewhat at school (a pregnant girl was not allowed to attend; she had to get her class assignments after school). When did the churches of Christ stop encouraging the church members to truly follow holiness, with pointed examples of what the Bible meant, I might add? When did church parents no longer feel compelled to instruct their children that they weren’t going to wear slightly provocative clothing, or use crude language, or watch trashy tv shows, or wear makeup which made the girls look like street-walkers, or allow soft porn in the reading and video material which entered the home? When did church parents no longer monitor the dynamics of their child’s friendships? No wonder so many marriages fail; people, even church members, are looking at the wrong things when they are looking for a companion. Please church members, help retore Biblical principles to our teachings, our worship, our way of life. Our children, grandchildren, nation are in spiritual jeopardy.

      • Really?

        Wait – you think it’s a good thing that pregnant teens werent able to attend school? Yes, that sounds like a completely moronic solution – deny education. What is she were raped but afraid to come forward? Judgmental ‘Christians’ such as yourself make us all look bad.

  • Fiza

    Well, that’s why Islam asks us to cover ourselves since thousand of years ago. Too late to realise it now.

  • Manal

    Thank you very much for posting this. As a Muslim, I totally agree with your views and as a woman in this day and age I find it incredibly offensive that our gender feels the need to be seen this way because of people that are out in the limelight and behave in a way that is satisfying to the male demographic.
    We’re not just on this planet to please men

    Thanks again!

    • Jennifer

      Allah Hu Akbar

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    My husband, in his devotion to Jesus, refused to watch Sasha Fierce’s, Beyonce Z’s, ungodly halftime performance, just like he refuses to watch the poisonous commercials that objectify women. Thank you so much for boldly writing the truth Elizabeth. Bless God America, and blessings to you!

  • Anonymous

    You sound like conservative muslim.

    • Rog

      FYI: A ‘conservative’ is a ‘conservative’ irrespective of religion, get your concepts and stigma right!

    • RStarke

      I totally disagree. Fundamentalist Islam argues that womens’ bodies are to be rejected as inherently bad in and of themselves. Secular culture argues that womens’ bodies are to worshipped as inherently good, in and of themselves. Christianity argues something else entirely – that womens’ bodies (and mens’) do not derive their negative or positive value in and of themselves, because they are not autonomous (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our value comes from the One who made us, and the purpose of our bodies is to reflect Him. A balanced perspective will lead to us neither draping ourselves to hide what God has called good (a la the homeschool stereotypes), but neither will it permit us to inordinately steal God’s glory for ourselves. I’m having a hard time believing that many people looked at Beyonce and saw Jesus.

      • Farooq

        Really, fundamentalist islam says women’s bodies are to be rejected as inherently bad? True story? Muslim women dress as Mary mother of Christ. Draped, head covered and proud. And Islam never said woman tempted man to first sin – Adam and Eve shared equal blame. Get your facts straight on ‘fundamentalist’ islam.

      • suzieq

        Not sure where you get the idea that Islam argues that women’s bodies are to be rejected as inherently bad. That is a complete and utter falsehood, based in assumptions and misconception. Islam rejects the idea that woman is to blame for the fall of man (in the story of Adam and Eve, Eve is NEVER singled out as the temptress. They both commit a mistake, based on a suggestion from Satan, both together were taught how to make repentance, and were forgiven) Childbirth is not a punishment for the original sin of women, neither are her menses. On the contrary, women get double and triple the good deeds and reward for the hardship that she goes through. Women are allowed and encouraged to be “sexy”, but in the right situations. Women are preserved for their husbands. I can pole dance and gyrate all I want, for my husband, the man my sexiness is reserved for. “Oh mankind, be dutiful to Your Lord who created you from a single person and from him he created his wife and from them both He created many men and women.”(Quran 4:1) This implies equity in creation, judged equally by God. There is no distinction between people except in piety. From an Islamic context, there is no differentiation in degree between man and woman, only in actions and we’re all responsible for our actions. (Q. 33:35) Now, is there oppression of women in muslim countries? Yes. Is there oppression of women in non-muslim countries? YES. That oppression is NOT a result of the doctrine of Islam. That oppression is routed in cultural standards that universally objectify and downgrade women. I CHOOSE to be modest and to wear the covering. I do this not because I am forced to, or that there is something evil or bad in my body. I do this because I want to be modest. I am liberated through my hijab because I control what I want people to see of me. I am NOT objectified. I am liberated. I am educated, successful, and I can do anything I choose. I choose to live my life pleasing my Lord, and not worrying about the glares I may get for being modest. If you want to get down to the actual point, true Christianity and Islam both are designed to honor and respect the woman, because the are both monotheistic faiths that come from God. Nothing from God denigrates the creation…people on the other hand, can destroy societies, misinterpret and misrepresent.

        • leena

          Beautifully put! Thank you.

          • HJ

            I agree. Beautiful and spot on! Thank you so much.
            To the writer – Thank you for trying to put some sanity in this utterly crazy world!

        • Christina

          Being an agnostic I’m not going to debate the religious aspect of this argument but I do wish to respond to this “Women are allowed and encouraged to be “sexy”, but in the right situations. Women are preserved for their husbands. I can pole dance and gyrate all I want, for my husband, the man my sexiness is reserved for.” Going down the line on what you said; allowing and encouraging a woman to be sexy implies the choice is not her own to make, but someone else’s. And who determines the “right situations”? The liberals? Moderates? Ultra conservatives? I would no force you down in front of a screen playing porn than I would want to watch a religious film. I don’t like religious films/books/music etc. but I am not crying out to have it removed from public consumption either, I simply change the channel. Secondly, this “women are preserved for their husbands” stuff is nonsense to me. If a woman wants to save herself for marriage that is her choice, fine. But my sexuality is just that, MINE. I am not preserved for any man. My body is mine and if I choose to share it with someone than it is my gift of trust to them. Any exhibition I choose to put on display (not including x-rated raunch), including dancing or wearing a decorative corset I do not do for others but for myself. Because I feel graceful , attractive and confident. It is something that makes me feel good about myself. I thank you for your perspective on why the hijab feels liberating for you, that particular point is not one I have heard before. I just would like you to understand for many of us sex and sexuality does not equal pornography.

          • suzieq

            christina, I’m implying exactly the opposite. I’m saying it is TOTALLY a woman’s choice that allowing and encouraging a woman to be sexy is her choice. I’m simply saying that the right situation for me is what I deem. I’m tired of all the garbage about how a muslim woman who wears the scarf is oppressed and must follow the dictates of any man. I CHOSE this for myself because I found it liberating for me. I’m not implying that this is imposed on anyone. It’s my choice to make. And because I’m married, I WANT to be beautiful, sexy and attractive for my husband. I don’t need anyone elses approval. I want my hubby to know that he doesn’t need any of the half naked women out there when I can be all he wants at home. :). I have never equated sex with pornography. I think they are two totally separate things. I was responding to RStarke”s implication that Islam deems women’s bodies to be inherently bad. No where in Islam is that true. If other people choose a different road than me, so be it. Everyone is ultimately responsible for their own choices. However, so many judge me/other hijabi’s for preferring modesty, and make assumptions to why I made the choice I did without ever speaking to a muslim woman or understanding why the choice is made. :)

        • Tarzan

          This is a great post…..very well put…..

        • Blanche Pinson

          Both Adam and Eve sinned; the Bible plainly says that Eve was deceived and led into sin, but Adam knowingly disobeyed, wanting to please his wife.

        • Jane

          Wow. That was beautifully put. These are the reasons why I , a born and raised American military brat, reverted to Islam.

          • Jane

            Ooops, I meant to write this on another post.

  • Anisa

    Thank you , great point ! I am so upset about the whole thing. We had to kept changing channel since some Ads and during the half time. No regard whatsoever for our children anymore. Please check this article on UK newspaper and I am not suprise if also a problem in US school. It’s just sad that children have to deal with this kind of preesure and abuse

  • bahamajane

    I’ve always considered myself pretty open-minded and I love Beyonce, her attitude and her music. However, even I was wondering how a performance like that got onto prime time where American families were watching with their children of all ages. As far as the “Two Broke Girls” commercials, I used to love that show. Now, every week it just gets raunchier and so we’ve just stopped watching it. Too bad shows can’t just be entertaining without having to be trashy. Things really need to turn around in this country in so many ways……

  • Madiha

    Thank you for this. I agree with you whole-heartedly. Needless to say it is extremely disturbing that the current trend of objectifying women has dropped to such low standards that women start stripping off on national television. Us Muslim women are taught to dress (and behave) modestly to protect us from this very thing (objectification). But I believe it’s not just Islam, it’s a woman’s very nature to avoid such vulgarity. We are not sex objects to be drooled over, we are human beings and thus should behave with dignity.

  • shocked

    I was shocked at the pathetic low level of world entertainment! If this is what women’s lib wanted in the guise of freedom, then what is slavery? Beyonce being slave to her stylist/director/choreographer. For a famous person to belittle herself in such a shameful way is nothing less than moral slavery. There were other females on the Super Bowl too, Alicia Keys looked stunning in her red dress, Jennifer Hudson looked so classy in her black & white outfit, yet, the biggest entertainer showed up in her cheesy erotic bedroom clothes, which as one of the commentator rightly put it as “should have been for her husband’s eyes only” The important question to ask is how do you justify this to your 13 yr old girl who thinks this is the ultimate standard of fashion/music & wants to emulate Beyonce like all teens want too when they see their musical idols? What’s gonna be next in the Super Bowl entertainment? Nudity?

    • waheeda

      I have an 8 yr old daughter who was shocked to See beyonce’s clothes (or lack of)! Doesnt she feel embarrassed Mom?— is what she asked me. Needless to say, we turned off the tv for the rest of the evening.

  • Palid

    This is why Islam commands men and women to dress modestly. I’m so glad I found Islam.

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  • Aaron

    Great article and insight, Elizabeth!

    Can I just ask, though, why was the kiss for the Go-Daddy ad so disgusting? I keep hearing people say that, and I am actually very troubled by it. Is it so wrong for a geeky looking guy to make out with a model? Aren’t we just projecting our own culturally constructed ideals of male beauty on to this actor, arguing about how “disgusting” it is for a man like him to actually engage in a kiss with a woman on screen?

    • Elizabeth Duffy

      It sounded like someone stirring cottage cheese.

      It had nothing to do with the appearance of the couple.

    • HT

      The bad part of the kiss was the closeup and sounds. And we don’t need to see that so up close and personal. I’ve never liked “Go-Daddy’s” approach to marketing and thus I don’t use their product.

  • Rog

    You know there was a time when the half time show was a great show! With millions of people of all ages watching plus the whole world watching USA as they say the Superbowl is as American you can get, with Beyonce’s show looking like soft porn and low atistic value and the other ads especially GoDaddys (sic) , one would think the greatest nation on earth would either come up with something better as is expected of them or atleast some censor board should have stepped in to guide them! From Janet Jackson to Beyonce can we get out of these sleazy shows America! Its playing heavily now on the image of USA negatively!! (written by a non-american living on the other side of the earth who loves NFL)

  • Owen

    Oh, wait, Betty, was there something on TV on Sunday? Huh. Oh well. Having no TV I miss so much. Huh. Oh well.

  • Ashli Haggard

    Shaming sex is the same as shaming people for having sex. I agree with the sentiment that women should not be treated as sexual objects and instead as the autonomous agents capable of making educated and informed decisions for their own benefit, not for the sake of being “attractive.” However, that includes being free to make the decision of how to dress, how to dance, and when/with whom they have sex. Feminism says that women do not need to EARN repect based on what her clothes cover (or don’t) and what dance moves she chooses to use her body for, but should be afforded a level of respect for just being a huma being.

    Yes, the sexism exhibited during the Super Bowl commercials was shameful. But Beyonce owned her performance, her body, and her right to do whatever she wanted with it. Hooray for Mrs. Knowles-Carter.

  • Hamza Lodhi

    Well this has become the unfortunate reality of the media. Its not just this single performance its the culture that has developed over years of not only objectifying women but also giving a casual outlook to many very serious and immoral issues. The music industry has been taken over by this cult of people who make sure that they spend every ounce of sweat in making every aspect music from lyrics to video negative. Similarly television has become loaded with shows that are based on poor moral character in one way or another. And most of these shows in no way represent values of regular people who live in very similar circumstances in real life but if this is not monitored well in years to come it might actually evolve into that in real life as well.

  • Ania

    A couple things are lacking in your review of Beyonce’s performance. The high-thigh style of dress that Beyonce wore has been a trademark look for her for years. And not only is Beyonce a one-woman-show but she is her own manager and is the the creative force behind her own image and “corporate marketing.”
    I think that her dance would have been lewd if there had been men grinding all over her like some performers have had in their shows. HOWEVER, there was not ONE man on stage with her. Her entire entourage is cast with women- even her musicians- if you noticed.
    Beyonce has been noted as one of the most powerful celebrities in Hollywood and not because of her pelvic thrusts, but because she is one of the strongest and most independent women in America.
    I think that claiming her dancing and outfit are just a weak-minded way of bowing down to all the male viewers of the Super Bowl is an insult to all the hard work and genius Beyonce puts into her performances.
    She is a master of her craft and a model of power, strength, and independence for women all over the world.
    If you want to talk about unsavory commercials and the porn industry, then talk about that but don’t draw comparisons between a champion of women’s willpower and self esteem and the scum of the adult video world.

  • Taylor

    Agreed. Similarly I don’t want my sons to grow up in a world which judges and awards them for big muscles and barbaric aggressive competitions.

  • waheeda

    Being a Muslim woman, I could Not sit thru the shameless sexualization of women in the ADs and the halftime performance. Islam teaches women to value themselves by being modest and decent and it teaches men to respect women by lowering their gaze instead of sexualizing them so blatantl
    After having said that ,as a wife and mother, I do Not understand How this can Ever be considered family Entertainment. Disgusted with the way things are going !!

  • Teena Stewart

    My husband called it playboy with music. That’s pretty much what it was. It really bothered me.

  • Nihilist

    “Objective virtues”? What objective virtues? A nation where God is on the decline, where is there an agreement on virtue? I agree with the degradation of beauty and cheapening of the aesthetic for the clamoring mostly male mob, but let’s be honest here. The deeper problem at work here is how we’ve taken God out. And replaced him with our supposedly intrinsic secular morals

    • Elizabeth Duffy

      Christians believe in the cardinal virtues: prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance. Also, the theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.

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  • Kristi

    So let me get this straight. Women shouldn’t be judged by their appearance, but when a man who is deemed unattractive kisses someone, it is “the most disgusting kiss ever committed to film.”

    • Cynthia

      I think it was because of the disgusting close-ups and sounds of the kiss. I didn’t like the Go Daddy commercial because it was such a stereotype of beautiful woman and geeky guy. And the kissing sounds totally turned off everyone I was watching it with.

    • Mike James

      Hear, Hear, Kristi. We as a culture are guilty of trying to classify people as being rated as different types of breeding stock.

  • Kim Griffin

    Two broke girls ~ classless and not funny
    GoDaddy ad ~ gross
    I’m not a big Beyonce fan ~ not that I have anything against her or for her, I just don’t know her that well ~ so I figured it was part of her regular gig. Ya’ know? Like Madonna and the cone boob covers. Never did understand that.. Anyway, Beyonce didn’t offend me and I didn’t feel the need to shoo my kids away ~ I’m not sure why. I can see where people get all riled up about sexualizing women and I do too. Being a mother of 2 daughters and a son, I have both sides to think about and want them to get the right message about sexualizing anyone. That’s my job, not Beyonce’s.
    My 12 year old thought her outfit was inappropriate. If parents are talking to their children about what is appropriate and what is not, that is how culture will change.
    But, what if her outfit and performance was her artistic expression and not for the purpose of over sexualizing her performance and gearing herself toward grown drunk men? Shouldn’t she be able to express that side of herself too?
    Great article to get people talking!

  • Jess B

    I think the thing that bothers me the most is the mixed message that it sends to believers of Christianity and non-believers. Too often I have heard that my religion and my relationship with Christ is a joke in such subtle ways because:
    1. “It’s okay for women to have sex before marriage if they know who they’re going to marry”
    2. “There is nothing wrong with dancing provocatively…it’s not like they’re having sex”

    Yet in Christianity we teach young girls to be chaste and to honor themselves and God in there body and virtuosity…yet they see Beyonce with this “amazingly” sexually promiscuous performance who mentions before walking off stage “God Bless y’all!”

    It really bugs me that I have to argue that the truthfulness of Christianity is not defined by those professing in Hollywood, who alter the word of God to fit “MODERN” day living. The word of God as it stand is the law we must abide by and last time I checked, lasciviousness and lust are not exactly things God looks fondly upon.

    I just pray that we get it together because it is very sad and disappointing to watch where this nation is headed.

  • annam from bk

    that. was incredibly beautiful.

  • jmatsilv

    Listen folks… the reality is that when you are watching TV at any time, you are watching material that is largely funded, produced, and distributed by people who are secular in their moral capacity. So unless you choose to only watch religious programming, you’re going to get some amount of carnality and worldliness in the content, no matter what. Welcome to being “in the world”. Neither can we expect non-believers to act like, or abide by a believers chosen moral conduct. Nor should we be surprised when they don’t. Remember, there is no fellowship (similarity) between light and darkness… none.

    And unfortunately, if you’re a Christian, Paul the Apostle told Timothy that it is only going get worse. We will soon, if not already, understand fully how Lot felt living in Sodom, with his soul being vexed daily by the wickedness that surrounded him. However, we CANNOT control others actions, but we can keep our hearts right and respond likewise.

    • Dee

      That was spot on jmatsilv

    • Ryan

      jmatsilv, Excellent reminder of truth and for those in Christ, our reality. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Even more ridiculous is the people who claim to be Christian or people who claim to believe in God… Yet they (male or female) have no problem objectifying people or watching porn… You can’t just talk the talk… You have to walk the walk! Merely claiming that you believe in God or that you have morals means nothing! You have to prove it with your actions and the way you live. And if you do believe in God, do you really think He enjoys watching you while you play with yourself over pornography? Obviously no. A lot of people are going to have A LOT to answer for before God when they die… Good luck to them… They’re gonna need it.

  • Jocelyne Hudson-Brown

    The Superbowl was seen by a global audience. The “entertainment” exported in the form of commercials, artist performances, the way women, African-Americans and many others are seen is not a good look for those depicted or the United States as a whole. This is why so many nations do not want to have anything to do with , democracy or Western culture. We can do better!

    An additional observation – When a woman spends her life shaking her a** for a living, what is she to do when that is no longer an option? Jen. Hudson or Alisha Keys will never have to worry about that!

  • fahim

    I see few comments by sisters, please don’t kid your self by watching super ball games or half time commercials,nothing going to come out of these entertainments.
    This so called singer/dancer’s performance ,and her place in the media is sufficient proof to see what’s it’s all about. Wasn’t she in a major event 2 weeks ago, there is lot going behind scene than what’s obvious..

    Truth will be revealed, and God’s plan shall prevail over satan’s!

  • modest_muslimah

    Our societies have planted the seeds of immorality and now we are reaping the consequences. As a Muslim, I have learnt that Islam gives me the protection from being a sex symbol, a gift which everyone wants just no one wishes to admit to. Not only Islam but all religions teach modesty, its just that the majority of us have chosen to shun those divine teachings which is incredibly unfortunate.

  • YupItsMe

    I thought that her singing performance was atrocious, but man, oh man, was she HOT. She looks real good for some one who had a baby not too long ago…

  • Sam

    It is Bar “Refaeli”, not “Rafeali”.

  • Chris Allison

    I agree on some points but overall this makes some really big assumptions.

    You assume the Aristotelian definition of beauty is somehow objective, and assumes Beyonce is a cog in the wheel – undermining her agency.

    Dave Eggers wrote a great letter to a fan once about the idea of selling out that is probably applicable here.

    You also make no supporting claims as to your knowledge of the marketing or choreograph industries to support these claims.

    And, while I think it was too much for the screen, it’s also not realistic to make a blanket claim that it wasn’t sexy to anyone. I and many others would probably disagree.

    If you are to take the moral high road – which I am for and largely agree with you – via the route of debate and argument you must present stronger rationale or be dismissed by the opposing side.

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  • Kevin Harris

    Outstanding! This is how we’re going to reach a culture that is immune to merely “religious” arguments. Even the most secular persons would have to agree with this analysis!

  • Ryan

    Very well written commentary. Thank you. This is how sad it has become, I knew that the halftime show would be nothing but a loudly subtle (if that makes sense) sexual act, so I used that time to go and give my kids baths and get them ready for bed while the women watched and then confirmed my suspicions. We’ve come to the point where sadly if it is someone like Beyonce doing the show, a woman who has crazy singing skills that alone would be enough for her to showcase, then more than likely it is going to include half dressed women, dancing in provocative ways…is it tiresome at this point. (that is a sad commentary in itself).

    One note I would make though – I have been overseas several time while the superbowl is televised. On those occasions and in two different countries, they did not show the commercials nor the half-time show. So the “international audience” may be more localized to America than around the world – although maybe some countries did at least show the half-time show.

  • Patrick

    Curious that you labeled the kiss between the model and geek as the most disgusting kiss ever committed to film. Why is that? Because of the disparity between the two in what society currently accepts as physical attractiveness. I saw your disclaimer, but I think you’re being disingenuous. Let me ask, if your television’s audio was turned off, would you still have found the kiss repulsive?

    • Elizabeth Duffy

      This might be difficult for you to understand, but I really do not see a problem with kissing a man who does not fit the conventional ideal of beauty.

      The kiss was staged in such a way so as to be unappealing to any of the five senses.

      But all of that is arbitrary to the point that the woman, as always, represents sex, and the man, brains.

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  • notrelatedtoted

    I didn’t read all the comments, so take mine for what it’s worth.

    I saw twitter blow up over the halftime show (I watch via dvr, and skip all the commercials and other junk), so I watched about half of the show on youtube the next day. In general, I don’t think the Beyonce show was worse than others that came before, and I think you can find much worse in the maintstream pop culture flotsam (anything featuring Lady GaGa, for example). I was actually somewhat surprised that the, uh, top to her, em, outfit? was actually somewhat modest. What appeared to be a plunging neckline was actually some flesh-colored material? Not sure, but yes, the bottom half of the outfit was certainly brave.

    I also didn’t see any male back-up dancers or simulated sex acts. Pelvic trusts and other suggestive moves, but no pantomime. Ultimately, and this is the case with most of pop music acts nowadays, I find the whole spectacle just drowns out the “music.”

    The word that sprang to mind mid-show was “aggressive.” Lots of stomping, scowling, thrusts, and other martial arts maneuvers. Is this also some kind of response to the macho, violent culture of the NFL? Not sure, but I don’t really find it “sexy,” either. Maybe that’s because I’m a conservative white male rapidly approaching middle age, but I like to think that it’s because its completely inauthentic. The whole thing stank of being developed in a focus group somewhere.

    Anyhow, they’ve got people talking, so it’s a smashing success.

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  • Sandra Sims

    Elizabeth, thank you for this post. I was appalled at the half-time show and the Two Broke Girls ad that you mentioned as well.

  • Fedup

    I was told that when people start going insane, their brains wash out to sex and numbers. And what are we consumed with? Sex and numbers–politics is all about the economy, money, money, money. I turned my TV off in 2010 and don’t miss it, and I won’t read books written for adults except inspy. This country is moral squalor. Sex comes at us from every conceivable direction. Anyone that is that consumed with what is just one of many bodily functions–they’re boring, and their lives are empty. I read children’s books. Geez, they’re riding unicorns, slaying dragons, passing through portals, traveling back in time–EVERYTHING. Adult books? Apparently, we get dull as hell when we grow up. You have plots 1, 2, and 3, and you take sex (not even normal, sane human sex–just sick, twisted garbage) and your drugs and your drunks, and you plunk those three plots in all that crap. Dull, dull, dull, and mentally ill. Sick of this crap.

    This country is awash in moral squalor. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.

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  • Karen Bell

    Why did Beyonce think she needed to act like a porn star? She is beautiful and talented. Great wholesome smile, but those “faces” she made were horrible. Is this family entertainment?
    What about the kids watching…. Should they think this is normal ?
    Come on Super Bowl. Lets do better next year.

  • Peripattytic

    So a woman dancing and showing her body is a bad influence that isn’t family friendly, and yet watching live, brain-damage-inducing violence that is football isn’t? I don’t get this country’s obsession with regulating and judging female bodies and sexuality while we encourage and promote hyper-violent masculinity as a ‘family friendly’ entertaintainment. I find Beyonce a better role model as someone who uses her body to do something beautiful (ie sing and dance) as opposed to most football players who use their’s to knock the living daylights out of people.

    • Hollie

      ^completely agree- and here in Texas it is VERY hard to get away from! I can’t believe that young men have nothing better to do with their time! Not to mention- if ANYTHING else had as much scientific proof of harmful effects as football (A GAME!!) does, it would be banned forever! oh, but because it’s FOOTBALL…..

  • Hollie

    Well spoken! It’s sad to say but even I- a secular non-theist have never once considered getting cable TV for the very reasons above. I have 3 sons, I want to avoid any more exposure to a culture that objectifies women and encourages males to find reasons as to how she’s showing she really “wants it.” I want them to know that violating a woman or any PERSON is wrong. I want them to believe that girls who need cleavage to gain recognition or either not worth more, or at least believe that they are not. I am raising them to view being super model skinny as an illness- mentally in physically. Unfortunately, main stream society doesn’t allow our views so for now… no media. Sad.

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