Wowza! So, I guess there was a halftime show?!
I was laying down with my kids, so I missed it live. I was surprised to wake up to heated, offended vs. awed, I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong opinions on it. I mean, we’re talking about singing and dancing. Why all the hoopla? So, of course, I had to see it for myself.
…I was underwhelmed, maybe even confused, by my feelings. That’s pretty rare for me.
Maybe this was a good chance to just keep quiet. Any time people are this divided, it’s risky business to have an opinion at all. The easiest move is to stay silent, to avoid backlash. But, at some point, we have to wonder which cost is greater to us personally — the backlash or the feeling of being silenced. For me, it’s the latter.
And that’s what I found myself having strong feelings about this morning.
No, I was neither offended nor particularly moved by the performances of the headliners themselves. I was impacted more by the reactions to the show than by the show itself.
The climate out there is TOUGH today, am I right? It’s almost a requirement that we have strong opinions on everything, or our voices will be drowned out. Still, though, having an opinion opens us up to attack. I feel like this is particularly true for younger women and all minorities, who are often deemed ‘argumentative’ for sharing their perspectives. I sometimes wonder if others understand how challenging it is to be in this position: to care deeply, to feel personally involved, while both worrying about being judged and feeling like your tongue has been clipped. Like you’re going to be stopped as soon as you start. In today’s world, particularly on the internet, the anxiety-inducing Machine of Fear is constantly on call.
But we’re ready for it these days; we’re prepared. We’re already on the defensive. We reason with ourselves that one side will attack, but the other will hail us and our opinions. These are just the realities of living in an either/or society. This much has proven to be true even in the case of a simple 14-minute concert. I mean, I was mortified by some of the insults I saw this morning! So what are the consequences of speaking out about things that matter?
Still, even though we know someone is bound to take issue with whichever side we choose, we tend to find one side resonating with us more than the other. And we want to talk about it. Everybody wants to be heard. We all want our opinions to matter. But the world tells us that if we want to be relevant, we have to have something BIG to say.
And I love BIG opinions, but I was surprised they were THIS big, this time.
My takeaways from internet comments were that people are either egregiously disappointed by overtly sexual performances, or they’re stunned by epically confident performances by women of a certain age. Either they’re hecka proud of the statements made on behalf of the Latinx community, or they’re deeply insulted.
And I started to wonder: Why are we under the assumption that everything BIG must be black and white? Most of life is lived in the gray areas, and our opinions can live there sometimes, too. (Certainly not all the time. That would be a disaster.) So I’m about to give an opinion that feels unpopular and almost unprecedented as of late: I’m going to give a mixed review. I’m aware that straddling the line leaves a person vulnerable to both sides of the BIG opinions, but I’m gonna tell you that it’s okay to be out here in gray every now and then.
It’s okay to feel like the performances were too much *this or that* for your family, while still applauding middle-aged women for having the confidence to control the stage. (Shakira was actually celebrating her 43rd birthday as she performed, while JLo will turn 51 this year.)
It’s okay to find zero value in a halftime show, while still finding value in the messages it sent.
Do I think a woman’s performance needs to be sexual to be strong and commanding? No. Do I take any offense to this performance? Also, no.
First of all, I applaud women for doing what they’re comfortable doing, and for being who they are comfortable being. And, I mean, what I wouldn’t give to have the talent, the beauty, the confidence…everything. Get it, ladies!
The part that’s my business is whether or not I watch — whether or not I let my family watch. I always have that choice, and that goes for all situations like this that may make me — or any of us — uncomfortable.
Secondly, the song choices were a little ‘meh’ for me. But I know the songs these women sing, so I could have anticipated that. I also know that my musical preferences don’t represent everybody else and their musical tastes. I love that so many people did get to enjoy the music. Also, some of the songs aided the messages.
With that in mind, personally, I was excited about the messages. I like timeliness. I like the crossing of arenas. I think it matters. The issues at hand couldn’t have been more relevant, and I don’t think they could have been more important. The performances were just loud enough to get the points across while still offering ample entertainment.
While many people will deride the timing, I would ask: What time is better? The only time to effectively make a statement is when people are watching, when people are listening. And, again, that is always the choice we make for ourselves. If we want to remain unburdened, we can simply turn it off. In the case of the Super Bowl, we can enjoy friends, family, and food for 15 minutes, then turn the TV back on to enjoy more football. We know how halftime works.
At the same time, I can understand and appreciate the discomfort of being subjected to opinions and messages with which one does not agree. That probably happens to all of us more often than we’d like. I often have to remind myself that it’s nobody else’s job to make sure I’m not inconvenienced. That falls on my shoulders alone. I just wish it was always as easy as turning it off.
Next, I was impressed by Lopez’s young daughter. I mean, can you imagine performing at the Super Bowl at 11 years old? And she nailed it. Her vocals were on point, my friends.
Better still, while it was not part of the halftime show, was Demi Lovato’s National Anthem. (I’m not following the rules to this point, so why start now?) I thought her performance only added to the experience as a whole. I was proud of that young lady, who dared to dream ten years ago (on Twitter) that she would one day perform the anthem at the Super Bowl. She has climbed mountains to be where she is right now. She did the piece beautiful justice, and she should be proud of herself, too.
Now, when we move society closer to a space where we can have different opinions — while both sides maintain kindness, uphold truth, and search for common ground — then we can say the same about ourselves.
*photo credit to CBS News