A headline of an article recently published by Catholic media outlet ChurchPOP reads, “Jennifer Lopez Blasphemously Mimics Jesus on Stripper Pole at Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
Whether the performance by Shakira and J-Lo was empowering for women or not, I will first point out that misleading headlines such as these are one of the many reasons why the world does not take Christians seriously. The article sets up a false narrative that everyone who outstretches their arms (whether in dance or athletics) is intentionally mimicking the ‘Jesus Christ pose.’ People in dance or athletics (even in the Olympics) will often strike a similar pose to conclude a performance, and I’m willing to bet most of these people (especially Jennifer Lopez) were not even close to thinking about blaspheming Jesus at the time. It makes us as Christians look like conspiracy theorists devoid of any reason to the rest of the world, and only reaffirms the lamentable stereotypes that North American Christians suffer from a persecution complex.
I typically don’t care about what goes on in professional sports, especially the NFL, but it seems as though the same people who complain about keeping politics out of sports and entertainment will always have something to complain about to ease their insecurities. It’s especially worth noting that nobody seems to raise an eyebrows towards the cheerleading squads that perform at every NFL game, nor did anyone seem to gripe about Maroon 5’s performance at the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Instead, social media was overflowing with middle-aged women frothing at the mouth over a shirtless and inked Adam Levine. The NFL is a secular sports league, and expecting them to submit to Christian moral standards (even by their definition of ‘family entertainment’) is on par with ordering ribs at a vegan restaurant. We live in the world, and it is to be expected that the world will not behave according to our own expectations.
But on the flip side, this is where I don’t see eye-to-eye with liberal feminists. Female empowerment should be about viewing and treating women as equally valuable and equally human as men. If the NFL claims to be family-friendly, then it shouldn’t have to involve sexually charged images or performances. I guess the version of feminism I most align with is where women shouldn’t have to rely on objectifying their own bodies in order to be self-expressive or successful in an industry that appeals to a lustful male audience that is complicit to the enormity of sex trafficking. Sadly, this is currently the world live in.
It is also worth pointing out that most of everyone complaining about the performance being to sexually-charged have completely overlooked a detail hidden in plain sight. Many of the background performers were inside what looked like several cages — a subtle, yet powerful nod to the current crisis near the Mexican border. It is eerily telling of where Christian minds are at here in North America, as we seem to care more about what women in entertainment are wearing as opposed to victims of human trafficking. This is a textbook example of straining out gnats and swallowing camels.
You can watch the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show in its entirety here: