For those, like me, who are not avid football fans, the Super Bowl Halftime Show was what I anticipated most on that Sunday afternoon.
Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The Shakira-Jennifer Lopez mashup was something I have been excited about for much too long.
Yes, these female figures left it all “on the floor” but my gratitude transcended that. It was the mere idea that, finally, two Latina icons, accompanied by two Regaeton legends, Bad Bunny and J Balvin, dominated one of television’s most live-viewed events in arguably the Latino capital of the United States.
Although this performance was long overdue, it was empowering nonetheless for the Latinx community.
Since Sunday, both Shakira and J.Lo have been facing criticism against their perceived hypersexual performances. Yes, typically football tailors to men.
However, I do not think the halftime show was to appease the male viewers. It is far bigger and smarter than that.
Deriving from Latinx tradition, dance is the expression of culture. And during her performance, Shakira’s first mission was to pay homage to her Colmbian roots.
Shakira’s Instagram post following her performance was captioned, “I want to thank Colombia for giving me the mapalé, the champeta, the salsa and the Afro-Caribbean rhythms that allowed me to create the Super Bowl Halftime Show that I dreamed of more than a decade ago.”
Among shredding it on the guitar, tearing it up the drums and shaking those truth-telling hips, Shakira empowered not only women, but Latinas altogether. For this to take place in Miami was no coincidence. It was strategically planned to unify our country in celebrating Latinx heritage.
J.Lo, who was accompanied on stage by her daughter Emmy Muñiz, paid tribute to the children who have been separated from their families at the U.S. border. This message rang loudly as young girls and boys emerged from lit up cages on the field to join J.Lo and Shakira on stage.
Toward the end of the show, J.Lo fashioned a gigantic reversible cape of the Puerto Rican and United States flag while singing a mashup of “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen and her own “Let’s Get Loud.” This in itself is a symbol for the melting pot in which we live. J.Lo’s performance represented Latinx identity in the United States, especially alongside Shakira and her Columbia rhythms.
Furthermore, having J.Balvin and Bad Bunny in background roles combatted the idea of machismo, the Spanish term for the strong and aggressive widespread masculine pride that has historically dominated Latinx and Hispanic culture.
However, this is not to say these Reggaton kings underwhelmed during their performances. J. Balvin and Bad Bunny had impressive performances.
Aside from the cultural empowerment that occurred, J.Lo’s pole dancing was far beyond its perceived sexual connotations. Upon the release of her 2019 "Hustlers" movie, J.Lo vigorously trained to perfect her moves. Her dedication was meant for far more than sex appeal. In a media environment that does not treat aging women kindly, we need to celebrate what J.Lo can do at age 50.
In essence, this is how you use a platform. We need to see this performance for more than sexual appeal because it stretches far beyond that.
Right before the halftime show began, J.Lo tweeted, “@Shakira! Let’s show the world what two little Latin girls can do.” And that’s exactly what they did.