It would be ridiculous to suggest a joint performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira be sanitized of sexual energy, particularly one like the Super Bowl halftime show, which should function as a showcase of their careers. For both women, feminine sexuality is an essential component of their art.
That presented them with a challenge, and it’s one they actually could have met. The Super Bowl is not an adult event; accordingly, the halftime show, which is a critical part of the whole affair, should be family friendly. A G-rating is, of course, an impossible standard for most popular artists, who cater to adult listeners, to meet. That would have been an even less realistic expectation for Lopez and Shakira, whose brands are safe enough to be mainstream but also sexually provocative.
About 80 percent of their performance actually struck this difficult balance. The show looked fantastic, the arrangements were fun, the song selections were great, the performers were high energy. The politically neutral celebration of cultural unity, featuring Lopez’s young daughter, was pitch perfect. I loved the show—but I’m in my twenties.
While neither woman treaded into nip-slip territory, a handful of moments absolutely crossed the line, and unnecessarily so. Shakira didn’t need to writhe on the floor, or dance seductively with a rope. Lopez certainly did not need to pole dance or grind with J Balvin. If you imagine the performance scrubbed of those moments, it would have kept their artistic integrity in tact and honored the essences of their careers. It even would have retained a challenging sexual edge—just without glaring moments of adult content.
Lopez and Shakira rose to the occasion, which seems to be an increasingly difficult task for halftime performers. They put on a great show. For an awards ceremony broadcast, that choreography would hardly be objectionable. But the Super Bowl is different. Accepting the halftime slot should mean accepting some gentle taming. Kids are watching with their parents. The performance shouldn’t make that awkward or jeopardize children’s ability to enjoy the show with their families.
With some easy and reasonable tweaks, Lopez and Shakira would have been able to properly celebrate their careers, provocative music and dancing and all, while also respecting the show’s broad audience. The bulk of the performance proved that to be true. They came close, but just missed the mark.