You’d be forgiven for not knowing the winning team of one of this year’s Super Bowl. While the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers at one of the world’s most watched annual sporting events might not be common knowledge, its half time performance has dominated discussion, approbation and debate well into the week that has followed.
The half time performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira was not only spectacular, it was politically poignant at a time when US politics is more tumultuous than ever. The twelve-minute performance included extravagant costumes, a vast plethora of back up dancers, pole dancing, rope swinging, a children’s choir, flashing lights, instruments and feathers.
Most importantly, the half-time performance featured two female artists of Latin American descent command and demandthe attention of a nation that too often denigrates and disparages their people.
— felipe 🌙 (@lthankunext) February 3, 2020
It is the era of Trump presidency. Prejudice and discrimination towards Latinos and other minorities is mounting. Immigration policy is tightening, and a wall is being constructed on the US-Mexico border. Latinos are consistently being represented in media as criminal, illegal or impoverished.
At Sunday night’s Superbowl 102 million viewers watched as Demi Lovato, a woman of Mexican descent, sung the national anthem. Then Jennifer Lopez, born in the Bronx and of Puerto Rican heritage, pole danced, wore a Puerto Rican flag and sang ‘Born in the U.S.A’ with her eleven-year-old daughter. Colombian born Shakira, who is of Lebanese descent, belly-danced with a rope and did a Zaghrouta, an action used to express joy and happiness in Arab culture.
Sunday’s performance went a long way to break down barriers that still need to be broken down. Two female performers, aged 43 and 50, something worth noting considering the ageism in showbusiness, celebrated their diverse cultural and musical roots on a national stage, and nobody could look away.