Hips Don’t Lie

I’m not a football fan. Like, I’m super not into it. I’m so not into it, I don’t even think I fully understood how points were scored until I was nearly graduating from college. I’m still a little unclear on the role of the kicker. I played in the Powderpuff game in high school, and I attended some high school games, but I don’t even think our home team ever won a single game. It was hard to get jazzed about a sport my home town was so bad at. As a result, I’m not a Superbowl watcher. But I have enjoyed watching many of the halftime shows (Prince, obviously, among others).

When I awoke this morning, it was to a Mormon pearl-clutching Twitter controversy about this half-time show. Here’s an example:

Obviously, you can imagine the responses to this Tweet. They included the usual suspects:

  • Quit body shaming women
  • Latinx pride!
  • “Your boy Trump puts children in cages and sexually assaults women, but that’s apparently OK”
  • Pole dancing is a recognized sport, not “stripping” (as later implied in the threads)
  • Utahns are prudes
  • LOL, how do Utahns have so many kids, given their prudery?

Twitter’s awful majesty is a sight to behold on a Monday morning. So, I went back and watched the half-time show, and I was struck by a few things:

  • J-Lo is my age. Damn, I have got to get to a gym. If my hips are unwilling to lie, I’m not sure I like what they are saying.
  • Shakira is amazing. I can honestly say I’ve never purchased any Shakira music, but she is really really good.
  • These women are incredible athletes.

The costuming looked no worse than we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders since the 1970s, so I didn’t see why that was particularly controversial. I also wasn’t sure why there would be an objection to pole-dancing specifically. It looked more like Cirque de Soleil acrobats spinning around on those ribbons. If you can hold your body perpendicular, several meters above the floor, you have a LOT more core strength than I have, so I’m not really in a position to judge such a feat. On the whole, I noted that there were no wardrobe malfunctions, and the choreography was tight and energetic. It was very entertaining. I assume the women made their own choreography decisions. This wasn’t a case of men telling them to do things that would be titillating to the men.

If children were watching, I’m not sure why that’s a specific concern. We take kids to the beach. There are already cheerleaders dressed similarly. J-Lo’s hand being in front of her crotch is similar to men who put their hands in fig-leaf pose, or Michael Jackson’s dance moves. I understand that dance moves can be sensual, but I didn’t find these to be non-stop sex on wheels either. There was just a lot of energy and spectacle which is the point of a half-time show. They aren’t looking for ballads.

I loved a suggestion my friend (and psych prof) Adam made: parents should be having 100 one-minute conversations with their kids about sex this year (presumably instead of one 100 minute conversation which would suck for everyone involved). He suggested asking a single question here and there and letting them reason for themselves, to understand that sex (and questions surrounding it) are all a normal part of life, not a taboo subject to be explored with a flashlight and dirty novels in the dark.

What did you think?

  • Is there a valid concern that the half-time show was too sexual for families? What concerned you?
  • Would you be uncomfortable watching this type of show with your children? Why or why not?
  • What types of quick sex-related conversations will you spark with your kids this year?



  1. Little more concerned about the the brain damage related to football, but whatevs.

  2. It’s amazing to me when people pick and choose what offends them and what doesn’t. Like you said, we encounter women just as covered, sometimes even less so, at the beach. I think what it comes down to is again trying to reinforce that women are held responsible for the thoughts of boys/men. To perform pole you can’t really have coverings on your legs because you need skin to grip the pole (seriously the bruises and blisters you can get from pole are no joke). Latin dancing tends to be upbeat and what many consider more sexual, but it’s beautifully performed. There’s so much to unpack on why people react the way they did. What saddens me the most is the slut shaming. These people can’t take this performance and say “wow, weren’t they amazing? Obviously we don’t dress this way because of (fill in however you talk about modesty), but that doesn’t make them bad people. They just make different choices than we do.”

  3. This is 100% an American problem. Really. 🙄

  4. Deborah Christensen says:

    Keep in mind that I don’t have kids and my interest level in football is -10. Most years I hear about the highly sexualized Superbowl show. I’m at the point that if you’re offended then it’s your fault for watching the show.

  5. mikerharris says:

    It seems to me that if a man can watch that show and not feel lust (D&C 42:23), then testosterone levels might be low, you have a more pure eye for performing excellence, maybe you just aren’t a creeper like me, or idk. The show succeeded in objectifying and sexualizing women while dressing it up in glitz and talent.

  6. Why were they watching entertainment like that on a Sunday in the first place? (someone had to say it)

  7. HokieKate says:

    My daughters are 8/6/2. We watched the half-time show. I pointed out how difficult the salsa choreography was, and my six year old and I got up and dried a few steps. We also shook our hips and laughed about how strong those dancers have to be.
    I would have preferred fewer camera shots of J Lo’s crotch. I was extremely impressed with her athleticism.

  8. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    I don’t know how anyone can watch pro football with a clean conscience at this point, knowing 1) the horrifying damage it inflicts on the bodies and (especially) brains of its participants and 2) the NFL’s possibly criminal callousness in how it addresses (1).

    Some athletic but tacky dancing and bad dance-pop is trifling compared to the moral atrocity that is pro football–and we haven’t even gotten to the jingoism.

  9. I thought the show was well-produced and entertaining, but correctly comparing it to Michael Jackson’s genital-grabbing isn’t exactly exculpatory in the “inappropriately sexual for children” department.

  10. As a bisexual woman, I’m really genuinely baffled by comments like mikerharris’. Like, it’s 100% possible to feel sexual desire and attraction to women without being objectifying or dehumanizing. Or is it just that straight Mormon men think that sexual attraction and lust are equivalent? Because if you’re not asexual and you’re trying to avoid sexual attraction entirely, you’re going to have a bad time.

  11. To summarize, we shouldn’t oppose yesterday’s half-time show because:
    (1) the performers were technically proficient
    (2) the costumes were as immodest as bikinis and cheerleader outfits
    (3) the level of immodesty was intentional (“there were no wardrobe malfunctions”)
    (4) the choreography was approved by the performing women
    (5) men sometimes perform similarly lewd dance moves

    None of your points directly dispute that the performance was lewd or inappropriate for children. But you did swear, so that’s nice.

  12. The thing is, a pop music extravaganza is going to be sexually provocative. It’s been the nature of pop music (and classical music, frankly) since basically forever. It would be silly to pretend the show was not sexually provocative. It was, and deliberately so. The pole dancing was not stripping, but it was in the show primarily because J. Lo portrayed a pole-dancing stripper in her most recent hit film, to great critical acclaim. Now, is sexually provocative dancing “objectifying” or “dehumanizing?” Sometimes, sure. Was it those things in the Super Bowl halftime show? I don’t think so.

    It’s not unreasonable for someone to think it was too sexually provocative for their personal tastes or for what they would want as prime time family entertainment. I would expect those same people who think that to have felt similarly about many of the past halftime shows, as well. This wasn’t any more that way than previous halftime shows.

    And if someone supports or has supported our current President, then they lack standing to be outraged about how sexualized or coarse our mainstream culture has become.

  13. Bathing suit type costumes doesn’t make them lewd or inappropriate for children. Compare to figure skating. Hip thrusts and crotch-based gestures are sexual, and there was some of that (more than at a beach, less than a lot of regular cheerleader moves). I was concerned when they brought out the pole, but it actually reminded me more of a gym class rope.

  14. Maybe you only saw the Mormon “pearl clutching” on your Twitter feed, but you should take your blinders off and realize that the concern about the overly sexualized halftime show was not limited to the Mormons whom you enjoy denigrating for not being as enlightened as you apparently are.

  15. I just finished a conversation about this with my 4th grader. He told me his (not in the Jello nor Bible belt) class was discussing how inappropriate it was. We’re not a family that emphasizes modesty, but it made him uncomfortable. I was trying to find some middle ground, explaining that although I didn’t approve of the costumes or the moves, there’s an expectation in our culture that female singers have to be sexy, not just pretty and vocally talented. So they basically have a choice between disappointing people for wearing too little or too much.

    Even if they chose their own wardrobe and choreo, the decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. They didn’t get this far in their industry without knowing what titillates guys. What would have been truly shocking is if they’d dressed in something subtle and pretty and let their song and dance skills speak for themselves.

    There are bigger issues than a sexy halftime show, yes, but there are bigger issues than pearl clutching. Personally, I prefer pearl clutching to genital clutching.

  16. Fact Police says:

    “Or is it just that straight Mormon men think that sexual attraction and lust are equivalent?”


    lust /ləst/ (noun)
    very strong sexual desire

    “Sexual attraction is attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest.”

    I guess this straight Mormon man is not woke. Please educate me on the difference between lust and sexual attraction…because based on the dictionary and wiki definitions of each, I’d say that they are in fact the same.

  17. Aussie Mormon says:

    Kate provided an interesting point: “I would have preferred fewer camera shots of J Lo’s crotch.”

    How much of people’s issues were the clothing/actions, and how much were the broadcasters decisions on the crotch/breast/butt wiggle zoom ins?

  18. Living in the age of easily accessible online porn and we still have overreactions to the Superbowl halftime show??? I thought it was awesome. But I do have a hard time watching the Superbowl with Mormon family. Every halftime show, they’re talking about how this is evidence of the world going to hell in a handbasket and display all this outrage. I’ll be honest. As a heterosexual male, I’ve long admired Shakira and think she’s is beautiful. I enjoyed the mild titilated feeling I had while watching her performance and was very impressed that she looks that good after 2 kids and at the age of 43. My kids watched the show and I’m glad they did. Kids need to learn to learn it’s OK to have sexual feelings for other people and how to process those in a healthy way. They shouldn’t feel shame for feeling the desire to have sex and getting turned on by the sight of other people. It’s OK too to flaunt sexuality, within some reason. Shakira and J-lo didn’t overstep any boundaries by any means. Women shouldn’t be body shamed or feel like they are walking porn. They should be allowed to show some skin, feel proud of their bodies, feel and look sexy, and fully expect men to treat them with respect and control their sexual desires around them. Hiding women behind burkas is not going to stop men from having sexual desires.

  19. Happy Hubby says:

    I am with the first comment by Scw. I walked away from watching the entire game and half-time more worried that I am supporting a bunch of men in a game creating brain injuries than feeling like I objectified the women dancers – who were DANG good.

  20. I quit watching football years ago, in part because I don’t want my boys to want to play, and because I don’t want to support gladiator-style brain damage.

    Okay, but what I came here to say is that the outcry is not just from Mormons, er, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some friends of mine of another mainstream faith had a HUGE discussion about this on Facebook. The complaints I heard were, I think, about stripper poles and simulated sex. I don’t remember any specific complaints about wardrobe.

    I didn’t watch it this year, but I have long felt that the super bowl, ads, half-time, everything, as a whole presentation, feels like equivalent to a strong PG-13 rating. That’s a feeling, though, because I don’t actually know how that is all evaluated.

    I think what is clear is that the show is squarely on the line where lots of people love it, partly because it is edgy, while a vocal minority are offended by it.

  21. I’m mostly concerned with the tight football pants. The amount of slow motion/zoom in on wieners ‘n balls is abhorrent.

  22. I put myself on the record about this over on Twitter (tl;dr: it was amazing, women don’t objectify themselves, and there are reasons besides sexual titillation for wearing less clothing).

    But there’s one more thing: we shouldn’t overlook the racial/gender stuff going on. There’s this idea that we can dismiss art that comes from other cultures (and especially African and Latin American cultures). There’s a long, long history of devaluing African-American art forms, of accusing their art of being overly-sexualized and primitive and functionally worthless. (I’m not going to point to the Cardinal Newman Society guy who explicitly said that black and Hispanic pop culture is the lowest.)

    I mean, in Michael Hicks’s “Mormonism and Music,” he writes about Joseph Tanner comparing jazz to “the orgies of Rome, the seductions of the Middle East, and the savagery of Africa.” And that sexualization and dismissal of art created by persons of color, art that comes out of non-European traditions, is, to use an overused pejorative, problematic.

    Because look, I go to the art museum and I can see paintings and photographs of naked people. I can read Shakespeare and get the bawdiest humor you can imagine. I can go to modern dance performances and see dancers dance virtually naked. Not all of those things are sexualized, and even the ones that are provide value.

    To be completely clear: my wife and I watched the halftime show with our kids. We all loved it. We didn’t tell the kids that they were supposed to be offended or titillated. We let them enjoy the music, the dance, the athleticism, the spectacle, and the culture. And it was, frankly, amazing.

  23. Ok, I have now watched the half time show, and I have to say, in spite of my earlier comment, I don’t understand what the fuss is about. I saw a lot of talent, mainly. It was fun to hear Shakira again. I don’t listen to popular music much anymore, but I bought one of her albums before she was singing in English, and before you could easily download music.

    I’m fine watching this with my kids. I mean, their high school is going to have cheer leaders and a dance team, amirite? This was like a very long and relatively tame music video on mtv (back when they did music).

    I want to respect others who wish to set boundaries, but I have a hard time understanding why they wouldn’t expect a show like this at half time. I honestly think the commercials are less appropriate for kids, but everyone seems to give them a pass because they are funny. And I think there is some sexism involved. If it was shirtless a male superstar dancing with unnamed female dancers I doubt we would hear much complaining.

  24. I thought it might be of interest. In Australia we play 4 forms of football. Soccor, rugby league, rugby union,and Australian football. There is a mens and a womens league in each form. The men and women wear similar clothes. Shorts and t shirts
    We also play cricket in 3 formats test match(5 days), one day(50 overs) and 20 over, and have mens and womens leagues in each of these too.
    In none of these there any sexual content just skill. There are international competitions in all of these except Australian football.
    I believe it says something about progress on equality. All is not perfect but having women athletes helps sort out details https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-21/tayla-harris-aflw-photo-could-be-landmark-moment-in-australia/10921892
    Some of the women get equal pay and that will become automatic soon.
    If its available recommend womens big bash which is the shortest form of cricket.

  25. I’m not sure if the people focusing on the wardrobes and saying there was nothing wrong with them are ridiculing the critics or are naive about the real (or bigger) concern some people have. Of course, it’s all relative, but I didn’t have any real issue with the outfits. The sexual gyrations were . . . . well, they were sexual. And they were intended to be sexual. You can be unoffended by it, but don’t pretend they were just skillful dance moves. They were meant to be sexual.

  26. There are probably a fair amount of people unfamiliar with Latin dance who objected to all the hip movements (I’ve seen racier moves at Spanish ward parties), but this wasn’t just a cultural thing. Unless we’re saying sliding your butt down a pole with legs spread is a Latina thing. And that we’re talking about this instead of the amazingly executed political message about the border indicates that the larger cultural message was eclipsed by the sex. Trump was probably pleased with all the pussy grabbing. To be fair, though, I think J-Lo was just checking to make sure there was no wardrobe malfunction down there.

  27. The other chad says:

    Meanwhile, back on the Wasatch Front, thousands of mothers are are sewing sequins on the butts of costumes for the next dance competition and hundreds of teen girls are practicing being tossed in the air to touch their toes at the apex in front of hundreds of teen boys from their congregations.

  28. stephencranney says:

    “He suggested asking a single question here and there and letting them reason for themselves, to understand that sex (and questions surrounding it) are all a normal part of life, not a taboo subject to be explored with a flashlight and dirty novels in the dark.”

    I often see progressives taking this approach–and that’s fine–but it seems that some are operating under the assumption that if you talk to them about sex like it’s taking out the garbage and allow encourage them to syncretize their sexuality with their lives and perspectives in whatever way seems natural to them, that it will naturally lead to them to a sophisticated 2010s, porn-negative feminist attitude toward human sexuality involving respectful coupled relationships with reasonable sexual and body image expectations, when it’s just as likely that the same approach will lead to (primarily, sons) adopting a darker vision of human sexuality and objectification that sophisticated 2010s porn-negative feminist would certainly not approve of. All this is to just say that as parents I think it’s okay to layer on some religion/morality when we contextualize sex for our children. 

  29. Last Lemming says:

    Here in Virginia, there is an ongoing debate about whether certain symbols can legitimately mean something other than what the person offended by them thinks they mean. The consensus among the enlightened (including, of course, me) is that some symbols are irredeemable and are not available for “benign” repurposing. For some people, the stripper pole falls into the same category.

    And “The other Chad” has a legitimate point. I remember a student ward talent show at which I noticed the first counselor in the bishopric beaming from ear to ear as his pre-teen daughter performed a bump-and-grind on the stage. All of the guys around me were just cringing–she was way too good at it. Critics of the half-time show should not simply be dismissed as hopeless prudes, but perhaps some need to remove the motes from their own eyes.

  30. For some people, the stripper pole falls into the same category.

    Why, though? I mean, that requires two moves. First, you have to view it as a stripper pole. Maybe that’s what it meant to represent, but having gone to see the Midnight Circus (a local circus that focuses on insane acrobatics), my first thought was aerialist acrobatics.

    And second, you have to view it is inseparably linked to strip clubs. And while that has some history, its uses have changed; pole dancing has become, if not mainstream, at least more common. (A friend tells me she went to a class once, and it was the hardest workout she’d ever done.)

    Can pole dancing be sexual? Sure. So can basically everything else. We’re really good at sexualizing things. Is it only sex? I’d argue no; whatever its origins, it has (or, at least, is in the process of) legitimately superimposed additional meanings.

    Again to jazz. In 1922, the Illinois Vigilance Association called it “pathological, nerve-irritating, sex-exciting music” (which, to be fair, sounds pretty awesome). It had led to the “fall of 1,000 girls.” Was that accurate? No, it was racist. But still: the reputation surrounding the music (sex!) in the early 20th century is unrecognizable today.

  31. I found Shakira’s and Jennifer Lopez’s costumes and dance moves to be tasteful and empowering of an enlightened view of femininity and sexuality. In fact, I think they were more dignified and respectful of woman than a burqua or prairie dress. I recently watched a television documentary about polygamist communities in the US, specifically those in southern UT and northern AZ. I was saddened at how those women are treated as property of the men. I did not find their dresses to be modest, but instead oppressive. Those women are not viewed as whole people.

    Healthy sexuality is not about covering up the body, but rather about respecting the body and respecting the person. It is possible to respect a totally naked person, even in a sexualized posture, while disrespecting a fully clothed person. It is in our hearts and minds, how we view other people. I personally found the half-time show to be boring (just not my style of entertainment), but I fully respect Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. I am heartened that we can have graceful and empowered women own themselves as they see fit; and hopefully, through them, we can all learn to develop a healthy attitude about bodies and sexuality.

  32. Jack Hughes says:

    When I hear a Latter-day Saint complain about the content of the halftime show, I can’t help but respond by asking, “but why were you watching football on the Sabbath?” Check and mate, moral crusaders.

    Interestingly, I’ve been hearing some complaints about the performance from my mainstream Christian friends–not about the sexually charged dance moves, but the point in the performance in which Lopez momentarily posed atop the pole with her arms extended, lit in silhouette. Some view this as an imitation of Christ on the cross, and took offense to her using it in such a secular context.

    I just find it odd (but not surprised) that Latter-day Saints are getting worked up about a vague suggestion of sex in an otherwise tame (even impressive) dance performance, but they don’t bat an eye about the numerous, well-documented moral failings of the NFL. Every year, we sit through many lessons about the holiness of the Sabbath Day and whatnot, but no one seems to mention the institution single-handedly responsible for secularizing that day.

  33. Jack, I’m not sure you point is as salient as you wish it to be. Just because there may be other important issues that can and perhaps should be addressed does not make this issue moot. I recognize, of course, that there are people who think there can’t possibly be anything sexual about twerking, gesturing toward one’s genitals, gyrating, etc. But it’s not unreasonable for people to also recognize the sexual nature of some of the dance moves. And just because there may be some hidden cultural meaning behind twerking doesn’t mean everybody sees it that way or that that’s the only way to see these things.

    Just as an aside, I wasn’t shocked, mortified, etc. Nor am I going to march in protest. But I’m calling a spade a spade.

  34. Yes, Sam, it’s weird that we’re all associating a woman dressed as a *stripper* dancing against a *stripper* pole as something sexual. Next, we’ll be associating oatmeal with breakfast and cars with travel.

  35. I don’t watch football, and haven’t seen a superbowl in over 10 years. I did go find the video after all of the controversy and yes it was a bit uncomfortable for me. But it’s not something I would watch in the first place.

    I do wonder though if there’s some racial coding element in the outrage though. This stereotype or idea of latin american women being more ‘base’ or ‘sexual’ than white women. It’s part of that xenophobia package. I remember in Church hearing talks from a white member of the 70 or a former mission president or something talk about the ‘moral decay’ he witnessed while somewhere in Latin America, describing how people in some impoverished area lived in tin shacks but had satellite dishes, apparently to just watch porn, according to him.

    I don’t have any information on this, but I imagine that the US ‘export’s more porn than it imports, i.e. people around the world probably watch more porn made in the US than from elsewhere. Seems a bit disingenuous to point to poor foreign brown people as examples of ‘moral decay’ while the objectionable content they’re consuming is made by white people in the USA.

  36. Poll dancing is now a sport, with competitions and meets. You can sign up for classes. It is an incredible form of exercise. Very difficult.

  37. I actually thought the show was well done, but for me the burning question is: Was that Jimmy Page who was on screen for that instant during the Kashmir riff? Did anybody else see him?

  38. I watched the halftime show with my wife and two teenage boys ages 13 and 16. Both of my boys were bored, and one left to play Minecraft and the other was on his phone. I didn’t feel the show was overly sexual and apparently neither did they – it was probably tame compared to what they see at school. My wife was amazed by the athleticism.

    There was one commercial that briefly featured two women beach volleyball players. In the commercial they wore shorts that covered *much* more than in real life.

    Honestly at the end of the night I felt more guilty for patronizing a violent sport, eating meat (I’m trying to be a vegetarian for many reasons including health and it’s more sustainable), and for over-eating. I was glad that Andy Reid, a BYU alum, won the game.

  39. jimbob, you’re taking an extra step or two here: you’re asserting that she was dressed like a “stripper” and was dancing against a “stripper pole.” And, well, maybe? But she was also dressed a whole lot like a lot of ballroom dancers (see, e.g., Dancing with the Stars).

    So why do you say she was dressed like a stripper rather than a ballroom dancer? Because she was in a movie playing the role of a stripper recently? I haven’t seen the movie, and I suspect most of the impressionable kids watching the halftime show also haven’t. Because she’s a dancer? I mentioned this on Twitter, but in Victorian times, ballet dancers were popularly considered prostitutes (or the equivalent of). Is there another reason?

    There’s nothing about her dance, or her outfit (Versace, apparently) that requires you to think “stripper.” You have to bring something to bear to make that association.

  40. Yes, Sam, the problem obviously lies with me as a pervert making unwarranted connections the dancers just didn’t intend. I’m now sure J-Lo had no intention of invoking a stripper image on Sunday, in spite of the fact that she was wearing more or less the same *stripper* outfit she was wearing in the movie trailer for the recent *stripper* movie in which she played a *stripper*, and dancing against a *stripper* pole which seemed pretty similar to the *stripper* pole in that movie trailer. I just don’t know where my mind got the idea that she was trying to look and act like a stripper. Time to call my bishop, I guess.

  41. Lol

  42. People! There is nothing sexual or metaphorical about a scantily-clad woman gyrating on a rock hard pole! If that thought occurs to you, then you are clearly infected with toxic masculinity and incapable of appreciating art!

  43. In the spirit of Grouch Marx, sometimes a pole is just a pole… then sometimes it isn’t.

    Human beings have been employing phallic imagery in their celebrations of strength and fertility since the dawn of time. Sexuality, especially female sexuality was often exploited at such events. Unsurprisingly, those elements were found in the groves and pagan practices condemned by the ancient prophets. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  44. Sam, you’re overthinking this. If that half-time performance doesn’t activate your almonds you should talk to your doctor about Androgel.

  45. I’m glad Spencer Cox isn’t upset about the kids in cages, which was also part of the halftime show, and is an actual policy of the president he supports.

  46. Scw:

    Cox could not sleep because he was angry about the U.S. government separating children from immigrants trying to cross the border illegally. So he griped about it in a string of emotional tweets. “Can’t sleep tonight. I know I shouldn’t tweet. But I’m angry. And sad,” Cox posted. “I hate what we’ve become. My wife wants to go & hold babies & read to lonely/scared/sad kids. I want to punch someone. Political tribalism is stupid. It sucks & it’s dangerous. We are all part of the problem.”

    Source: Salt Lake Tribune on Twitter post in 2020 Utah governor race , Jun 20, 2019

  47. SCW – you do realize those “cages” were there (and used) before the current administration, right?

  48. I don’t really follow pro football. I watch college football, which is even more problematic than pro football. And I don’t watch halftime shows because I’m too busy reading trashy books.

  49. He’s still gonna support him, sleepless nights or not. Kids are still dying in cages.

  50. What I have taken away from watching the show and also the chatter afterward.
    Shakira’s father is Lebanese. I didn’t know that.
    J-Lo absolutely climbed up a stripper pole. It was an homage to her movie Hustler and probably will get new viewers because of it. No one should be surprised she incorporated it. You don’t develop that kind of core strength and not show it off every chance you get.
    I still don’t like rap.
    I didn’t like J-lo’s flashy gloves. Or the way her leather outfit offered awkward peek-a-boos of her silver one. It could have been better.
    Shakira has a nicer voice than J-Lo.
    Shakira wore the same outfit her character in Zootopia wore. Another movie homage!
    American’s can be distracted from the important stuff pretty easily.

  51. What does that mean, “kids are dying in cages”?
    I didn’t vote for Trump, but is he killing children? Has he ordered that children be held in actual, literal cages until they die? That would seem to be grounds for impeachment. I guess I should pay more attention to the news.

  52. I didn’t see any photos of actual cages, nor did the article state that children were being held in actual cages, or that the aim of the policy was to hold them until they die. But, having read the article, I have changed my mind about the sex show at the Super Bowl halftime. I now welcome all the hip thrusting the tv has to offer.

  53. Didn’t watch it. Was on Sunday. Don’t watch tv/video at so with the family more than 1-2 hours a week

    What are all you Saints doing with the time the Lord has given you to become holier and closer together as a family? What are you doing to teach your children to be agents to act on fulfilling all righteousness in a pattern set by the Lord?

    If an annual sports show on Sunday is your one diversion, ok, but ask why it needs to be that show in a Sunday that’s the exception. More than likely the sports show is indicative of other choices that also hold you back from consecrating your time more fully.

    But feel free to attack those who point to holiness as the solution to societies problems.

    Incidentally, raising concern over kids in detention cages, from the sound of it was a great way to claim moral virtue in the midst of immorality. If the concern was children being treated poorly at the border (which should be a concern if it’s happening), make that the center point of your presentation – not apparently stripper poles. There have been many many many entertaining pop concerts that revolved around serious concerns for our fellow man. Awareness was raised and people opened their wallets or changed hearts as a result.

    What hearts were changed here? You guys are all at war with those who would merely prefer to have more wholesome entertainment because– be honest here, you really deep down have a dislike for many of your fellow saints.

    If the intent was in anyway to help children in detention centers, it seems to have failed with the glittery sex appeal they Incorporated as a priority.

  54. It’s not willful, John C. I have a disorder, but thanks for making me disclose it publicly

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    What are all you Saints doing with the time the Lord has given you to become holier and closer together as a family?

    What are you doing, Sute? Posting on a blog? Does that make you “holier” or “closer together as a family”? If not, why not do something else that enables you to consecrate your time more fully?

    Your mindset is the same one that led to stupid rules in my childhood like “no shorts on Sunday”. Slacks? Holy. Full length jeans? Holy. Long dresses? Holy. Shorts? Unholy. It’s the same mindset that said “roller skates” are OK but these newfangled “roller blades”? For hoodlums! It’s the same mindset that led one of my stake presidents to spend 20 minutes in stake conference decrying the evils of “driving up the canyon” for family walks or “getting together for family barbeques” on Sunday. None of those things have a damn thing to do with being holy or unholy. Not one shred.

    As for me, I thought the Super Bowl halftime show was technically impressive but, in certain parts, needlessly vulgar. Note that I didn’t say “needlessly sexual”. They’re not the same thing. One is a central and essential part of being human. One is not.
    Cate hit the most important question upthread: WHO WAS PLAYING THE KASHMIR RIFF, and why didn’t we see more of him?

  56. It’s a series of tubes: I actually like the distinction you point out between sexual and vulgar.

  57. If nobody is stripping on the pole, or no stripped person is on the pole, is it a stripper’s pole?

  58. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is vulgarity or obscenity. Moral values and standards are not absolute, universal, uniform, or consistent (dare I add eternal). Modesty in dress and behavior is relative to time and culture. We have seen it change and it will continue to change. No church, organization, person, or culture is the guardian or moral values.

  59. Stephen Fleming says:

    Can’t there be a happy medium here? Can’t we be against kids in cages, enjoy Shakira’s dancing and JLo’s pole athletics, but still think some of JLo’s outfits and bending over went a little too far?

  60. it's a series of tubes says:

    Stephen: exactly.

  61. No More: Obscenity is in the eye of the beholder? Yes, to some extend that’s true, but in my opinion it’s extreme to say no person, thing (or church) is the guardian of moral values and to imply that if any person finds any act to not be obscene, it is not obscene, etc. . What if the performers were simulating sexual acts with each other? Or actually engaging in sexual acts with each other? There are some who would “behold in their eyes” that it’s not obscene. So if just one person sees it that way, nobody else should have anything to say about it?

  62. Oh, you can say whatever you want about it. You have a point, to a point. And that’s the point. There is no objective criteria to obscenity. Elvis Presley used to be obscene to some. Bikinis on the beach used to be obscene to some. Just because one person thinks it is obscene, or even a group of people deem it obscene, does not make it absolutely obscene. Given that there are other people who do not think it obscene. However, there are generally accepted social norms. Or, dominant social opinions which establish social norms. But again, those are only generally accepted social norms. In our 2020 US society, there is not a generally accepted or dominant social norm about whether or not the Super Bowl half-time show was obscene. The difference of opinions on this blog prove that point. There are certainly acts and behaviors which approach the limits of universal (perhaps 99.999999% of people agree), and so in general we agree that those behaviors would be considered obscene. Your example of actual public sex in an arena would most likely fall under the category of obscene (for our current society). But in the case of Shakira and J-Lo, we are nowhere near an agreement, just a bunch of opinions.

  63. Speaking of actual sex scenes on TV, that reminded me of a story from my mission in Spain. The branch president’s family was watching TV, including their kids who were as young as 5. There was a full-on sex scene on the screen when the missionaries showed up for a visit. “Turn that off! The missionaries can’t see that!” was the family’s objection. For a 5 year old to see sex scenes on TV was “normal” for that country. American missionaries were the ones who needed protection from sex scenes.

    I’ve often thought back to that incident which makes an odd kind of sense on some level, but it’s a strange cultural commentary. What makes the sexual dangerous is the lack of exposure to it, it being outside the norm for that person. That was my conclusion.

  64. The most offensive thing about the Super Bowl was the 49ers lack of offence in the 4th quarter…it was very un-sexy.

  65. Total latecomer here with a probably unpopular opinion:

    I’m with sgnm, cloves, and jimbob here: OF COURSE it was sexually provocative. Most big pop performances are and have been. You might love that about it, you might choose to focus on other aspects, but I think it’s a little obtuse to just pretend that there’s nothing sexual about the performance.

    I also see a lot of whataboutism happening in the comments: What about the unethical nature of football as a sport and business? What about equivalent or greater levels of nudity? What about the beach? What about cheerleaders? What about kids in cages? What about Trump? These are all totally valid questions. But they’re also not super helpful here, I think. They seem to often be used to say, “Well, you’re just a (dismissible) hypocrite if you didn’t like the performance but aren’t up in arms about _____.” Also, different people will respond differently to each whatabout question.

    Myself, I happen to think that this kind of sexually provocative performance is inappropriate. But not because I suppose women are responsible for men’s thoughts or are walking pornography or because of modesty and hemlines and self-respect, etc.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever quite articulated my feelings about media sexuality in writing, but here goes: I think it’s inappropriate because I think our culture in general—and the media/advertising/entertainment industrial complex specifically—screams patriarchy. It is structured in ways that exploit sexuality—overwhelmingly women’s bodies—and objectify it as a commodity. And I’m uncomfortable with that.

    I think if we just stepped back and took our glasses off as to what seems “normal” to us, we’d see an incredible disparity in our cultural expectations for how men’s bodies and women’s bodies are clothed and portrayed. I don’t have objective data, obviously, but as a modern human consuming media, my sense is that in most forms of media or entertainment, women are expected (or required) to convey sexual appeal or availability in ways that men aren’t.

    Think of (or heck, image search) female pop stars vs. male pop stars. Which ones are costumed and marketed to show more of their bodies?

    Think of fashion at a movie premiere or awards show. Which ones are expected to offer more skin to the viewer’s gaze? Which ones wear pants, a shirt, and a jacket?

    Think of athletic wear, such as in running, (beach) volleyball, or cheerleading. Which ones are expected to wear smaller, tighter clothing? (This is why I usually don’t buy the “functional” argument: male beach volleyball players perform quite well in very normal shorts and a shirt.)

    Heck, think of Game of Thrones. How were women’s bodies contextualized, framed, and shot? Men’s bodies? What was the ratio?

    Or, back to the halftime show, how were Shakira and J.Lo costumed? How were the male singers costumed?

    Maybe this still comes across as regressive slut-shaming or pearl-clutching to some of you. But what I’m trying to say is that our popular culture absolutely exploits women’s bodies as objects packaged for the male gaze. The disparity is real. Male performers are more often allowed perform mostly on the basis of whatever skill they’re exhibiting. But to be marketable and popular, women have to not only be insanely talented and athletic, but they’ve got to sex it up and show some skin at the same time. The pervasive, cumulative message is that women, whatever else they may do or be, must be sexy and owe their bodies to men. Rape culture feeds on that expectation. And I don’t think it’s helpful to pretend that sexually provocative halftime shows don’t feed into that wider culture.

    All that said, I don’t mean to say that if men’s bodies were exploited in an equal degree and ratio, I’d be great with that either. And I’m also not saying either that bodies or sexuality are themselves gross or dirty or shameful. But I guess I feel like sexuality is a really big deal—sacred even?—and that packaging it for mass consumption has negative consequences. And will 9 times out of 10, commoditized sexuality will be exploited by and reinforce patriarchal power structures.

    Look, I realize there’s a million tangled threads here to pull at and questions I haven’t addressed. But I hope maybe I’ve been able to express a framework for how one can morally object to a sexually provocative performance without being simply a “pearl clutcher.”

  66. Thank you Greg – you managed to articulate very nearly exactly the swirling mass of feelings I have about this whole complicated mess.

  67. We are all cafeteria pearl-clutchers. :)

  68. I agree with Greg too. We just had a concert called “Fire fight Australia” to raise money for the victims of the climate catastrophe. I was pleased to see that none of the female performers found it necessary to dress as American female performers do. None of the women were wearing clothes you would not see on the street, and there was no thrusting, or crotch grabbing.

    So this culture is not universal, though we often follow America, hopefully we have a standard below which we do not go.

    I think it is about respect for women. Yes patriarchy contributes.
    Perhaps if you have a female president this may change? Not sure how else you change it. Though more respect for those who are not white males helps.

  69. rah: LOL. Excellent point.

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