The Hypocrisy of Super Bowl LIII’s Halftime Show


Evan Hecht, Editor-in-Chief

As a person who isn’t a fan of sports in the slightest bit, come time of the Super Bowl, I only look forward to the halftime show. The halftime show is a nice break from large sweaty men slowly causing brain trauma for the sole purpose of entertaining Middle-America. With the major disappointment I had after Justin Timberlake’s lackluster performance, my expectations were set even lower for this year’s performer: Maroon 5. Maroon 5 somehow put on an even more boring show than I expected, but besides the fact that they weren’t entertaining, there was so much more wrong with their performance.

The first major issue emerged back when they were announced to perform. This year’s Super Bowl took place in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is known in the world of music for being the birthplace of trap music and the impetus of its popularization in recent years. Artists like Migos, 21 Savage, and Gucci Mane all grew up in Atlanta and are major figures in the world of trap music. The fact that the NFL would choose a band as vanilla as Maroon 5 to play the halftime in the birthplace of the most mainstream style of music, at the current moment, makes no sense except for the fact they have to appeal to their audience of white people. Now, I know I can’t assume that every person who watches football is a backward thinking white American, but when I think of the average football viewer, I don’t envision a super open-minded person.

The NFL eventually added Travis Scott and Big Boi to the roster of performers, but I don’t even know if I can say they were performers. Travis Scott flew in on a CGI comet to perform about one minute of his worldwide phenomenon of a song “Sicko Mode,” and it was barely entertaining to me…and the Super Bowl audience. Adam Levine looked awkward trying to match Scott’s energy, and based on videos I’ve seen of Scott performing at his Astroworld tour, he did not bring his usual energy.

Then Big Boi came on, and I don’t even think he performed. Big Boi is one of the many big names to come out of the Atlanta Hip-Hop scene, being half of the famous 90s duo Outkast. I don’t know if Big Boi even said a word into the microphone or if he was just there to stand on stage in a fur coat (which he looked great in by the way).

The NFL made a sad attempt at incorporating the culture of Atlanta into the Super Bowl just as it did last year by disgracing Prince and his image by doing the one thing he said in a multitude of interviews to never do to him—making a hologram of Prince to perform to.

On top of the utter ignorance of the NFL to hip-hop and Atlanta, they further perpetuated the insane double standards between men and women.

In 2004, Janet Jackson was given the honor of the Super Halftime show. As per tradition, Jackson brought out a guest to perform alongside her, the recently debuted solo artist Justin Timberlake. During their duet, Jackson had the now infamous wardrobe malfunction on national television. Although at that point in her career Jackson had secured herself as a singing legend, she essentially was banned from doing any live performances on television for the rest of her career. Jackson’s public image was tarnished for accidentally showing her body and for something that was not her fault.

Fast-forward to the end of Maroon 5’s performance. Frontman Adam Levine strips off his shirt in a seductive fashion, leaving him topless on stage. I was attending a Super Bowl party and when that happened, the audience had a major uproar of excitement. People in the room were excited to see a topless Adam Levine and enjoyed his provocative moves.

When Levine took off his shirt, there was no censorship, no cutaway from him, nothing to stop him from being bare-chested on live television. This action will have no impact on his career and people will revere him as a sex symbol.

What still puzzles me hours after watching his performance is why is it okay when Adam Levine strips on purpose and shows off his body in a sexual manner on purpose, but when Janet Jackson has a wardrobe issue, she’s viewed as Public Enemy No. 1. There’s a double standard in the media that tells people to demonize women for showing off their bodies and to celebrate a man when he bares it all and embraces his sexuality. There’s no reason that Adam Levine should be able to get away scot-free with taking his shirt off and showing his chest just like Janet Jackson got in trouble for accidentally showing hers. The only differences between hers and his are that hers are protuberances and are different skin color.

The field of entertainment and just society, in general, will always have a double standard between what a man and woman can show off. It isn’t until we as a society learn to realize that women are not objects for men to gawk at and they are allowed to embrace their bodies that we will truly be okay with the infamous mishap of Janet Jackson. Instead of celebrating the Super Bowl on February 3rd, I was happy to celebrate Janet Jackson Day.