Super Bowl show's Latino flavor and political edge hits home with audience

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s half-time show featured not-so-subtle allusions to Trump’s immigration policies and Puerto Rico

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira wowed the crowd at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, bringing their greatest hits to the National Football League’s half-time show in Miami.

The 12-minute extravaganza was complete with fast-paced salsa dancing and Afro-Colombian footwork but it also included a not-so-subtle political message on the plight of Latinos in America.

In an apparent reference to immigration enforcement under Donald Trump, the show featured a scene with children in illuminated pods that appeared to mimic cages.

Last year, the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border with Mexico created a public outcry as images of children in holding cells began circulating online.

“Latinos are going through a difficult time in the US right now,” Shakira, a native of Barranquilla, Colombia, told reporters in the days leading up to the game. “I think it’s very important for us to convey a message of unity.”

The NFL’s half-time show is a popular feature in a week of events surrounding the Super Bowl, which garners about 100 million TV viewers in the US alone. Miami, the host city this year, is majority Latino.

Greeting the crowd with “Hola, Miami”, Shakira was joined by Puerto Rican reggaeton artist Bad Bunny before uniting with Lopez for hip-shaking and acrobatic routines.

The NFL had attracted criticism for not including native Floridian talent in the lineup but the two Latina headliners met with praise. And their rebuke of growing anti-Latino sentiment received high marks online.

What’s more American than seeing this country’s immigrant culture featured on stage in the Super Bowl halftime show?

— Dan Rather (@DanRather) February 3, 2020

Lopez is a Bronx-born child of Puerto Rican parents. The island of more than 3.2 million, a US territory, is still recovering from a category 5 hurricane in 2017 and more recently a series of powerful earthquakes.

In a mash-up of her hit Let’s Get Loud with Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Lopez revealed a rectangular boa with the US flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other.

The coat aimed to remind the audience that Puerto Ricans are Americans, too. Puerto Ricans, also known as “Boricuas”, relished the shout-out.

For me, the best part of JLo’s halftime performance was her bringing out her daughter to sing, and how she turned the American flag into the Puerto Rican! Yo soy Boricua, pa'que tu lo sepas! #SuperbowlLIV #superbowl2020 #JLo #Boricua

— Ada (@SoooAda) February 3, 2020

The camera then panned to the illusion of children in cages as a motif that blended into an appearance of a choir led by Emme Maribel Muñiz, Lopez’s daughter with her ex-husband, the singer Marc Anthony.

Emme Daddy is so proud of you. You are my ❤ and I am forever yours.

— Marc Anthony (@MarcAnthony) February 3, 2020

Not everyone was a fan of the political messaging.

I understand why Americans like to watch football. However, the superbowl has become nothing more than the biggest opportunity to slap Americans in the face. Whether that's an anti-American half time show or commercials that promote degeneracy.

Done with it a long time ago.

— FoxworthForCongress (@FoxworthFor14) February 3, 2020

Some noted an inconsistency behind Lopez and Shakira appearing to criticize the Trump administration. In the game itself, the San Francisco 49ers faced the Kansas City Chiefs. Former 49er Colin Kaepernick is the last quarterback to lead the team to the Super Bowl. He has not played since making a political statement of his own.

Today during the Super Bowl, the National Football League and its allies will sanitize and co-opt a black protest movement. I refuse to watch that happen before my eyes as if it’s all good. Some things are worth more than an afternoon of football.

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 2, 2020

In the game itself, the Chiefs defeated the 49ers to win the championship 31-20.

Reuters contributed to this report


Kenya Evelyn

The GuardianTramp

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