The Super Bowl is not an event known for its subtlety. Which is why I’m still blown away by how Jennifer Lopez and Shakira managed to put forth such a political message during the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show alongside J.Lo’s daughter Emme — all without actually spelling it out. Instead, they let their songs, costumes and choreography say everything: Latinas are Americans, and we are not going anywhere. It was a message moms should be proud to share with their daughters, just like J.Lo did with hers.
“So excited to share the stage with you tonight @Shakira! ✨💕✨ Let’s show the world what two little Latin girls can do. #LetsGetLoud #GirlPower #SuperBowlLIV #SBLIV,” Lopez wrote on Instagram before the show.
The very fact that Colombian-Lebanese Shakira and Bronx-born Puerto Rican Lopez performed songs in Spanish and that both women’s choreography included salsa, belly-dancing and African-influenced dance moves on the stage would have been a message on its own. But Lopez went much further. It was her 11-year-old daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, who opened “Let’s Get Loud,” singing from an illuminated cage and surrounded by more than a dozen other girls in the same contraptions. They were so beautiful, and Emme sang so well, that many missed the symbolism at first.
But if you didn’t notice the cages as a reference to the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the Mexican border, then J.Lo was going to make sure you got her next political statement. Joining her daughter and a chorus of girls all in white (while Shakira played the drums!), she took the stage in a feathered American flag cape and shouted, “Let’s get loud, Latinos!” Emme switched to singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” as her mom opened her cape to reveal the Puerto Rican flag inside. The backdrop behind them sure looked a whole lot like a border fence, too.
Emme’s dad, Marc Anthony, was fully supportive of his daughter’s involvement in the show.
“Emme Daddy is so proud of you. You are my ❤ and I am forever yours,” he tweeted to his girl, who joined her mom onstage during her tour last year and appeared on her video for “Limitless.”
Lopez, too, made sure we knew how proud she was of Emme.
Puerto Rico y Colombia muy en alto hoy. Muchas gracias a mi coco Emme, @Shakira, @JBALVIN y @SanBenito. #LatinoGang #GirlPower #LetsGetLoud #BornInTheUSA #ProudAmerican #ProudLatina #ProudWoman #SBLIV #SuperBowlLIV #PepsiHalftime 📷 Getty Images / Wireimage pic.twitter.com/b6Xf75mMzo
— Jennifer Lopez (@JLo) February 3, 2020
Others on social media were eager to point out the political message for anyone who missed it:
— lyam (@luthorswift) February 3, 2020
👀 Important political moment from the #SuperBowl Halftime Show when @JLo's daughter (who appears to be in a cage like other children on the field) sang a mashup of "Let's Get Loud" and @Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." J.Lo's coat featured the Puerto Rican and American flags. pic.twitter.com/ISOyS5l34M
— Brian A. Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) February 3, 2020
If you're upset that J-Lo walked on stage with the Puerto Rican flag on one side and the US flag on the other side, but you are not upset that this government still has children in cages, you are the problem.#JLo #JenniferLopez #HalftimeShow pic.twitter.com/o7KK5hiLkr
— Angel (@WhyNot_RESISTS) February 3, 2020
It was a gorgeous piece of show business, because the artists didn’t spare any booty-shaking or fun to make their message heard. Then again, there was some hand-wringing by Monday morning about whether they were too sexually explicit for younger viewers. Others shot back that it was no different than Adam Levine’s shirtless writhing in 2019.
Man walks around shirtless flaunting his sexuality & women go WILD! Women cover their lady parts but highlight their curves & exude sexuality and they’re shameful, a disgrace for children, should act appropriate for their age. Double standard much? #SuperBowl #HalftimeShow2020 pic.twitter.com/RjIRzNnoCl
— Daniella Montez (@DaniMontez20) February 3, 2020
As a mom, I’m just disappointed Shakira didn’t have any gazelles onstage to perform her Zootopia song, “Try Everything.”
Did the sight of those girls onstage change any minds by representing both the American territory of Puerto Rico — suffering again after earthquakes earlier this year — and the immigrant culture many want to keep out of this country? We’ll see. But as of this writing, #HalftimeShow2020 is trending on Twitter, while references to the Kansas City Chiefs’ win is nowhere to be seen. So at least we know they were loud!