It’s been a long, dreadful January—from deaths of favorite icons to the spread of coronavirus to an almost-World War III. Sunday night’s Super Bowl halftime show, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira on the same stage, took the heat off of that as people glued themselves to the screen to watch the historic performance.
And the stars made sure to make that moment memorable, making statements on a host of issues from immigration to the situation in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the January earthquake. The show was rich with imagery ranging from children in cages, Jennifer Lopez donning American and Puerto Rican flags, people on the floor without lights, and lights in the background that symbolized cages.
The children in cages weren’t in literal cages. But they sure symbolized it.
While some of the young singers were holding hands and stood at the front of the stage, the others were seen in a sea of oval-shaped carriages illuminated with white cage-like borders.
Twitter took note:
I saw it.
Putting kids in cages to “Let’s Get Loud”.
JLO and Shakira. Well played.
— YS (@NYinLA2121) February 3, 2020
— Small Screen Girl (@KiraJW) February 3, 2020
— maureen henriques (@rhinosrhinos) February 3, 2020
As of November 2019, the U.S. government was holding a record number of 69,550 migrant children in “custody,” including toddlers, infants, and teens—more than any other government in the world.
Lopez also made sure to remind her viewers about the U.S.’s problematic treatment of Puerto Ricans—as one expert put it, Puerto Ricans are more “colonial subjects” of the U.S., rather than citizens. On stage on Sunday, Lopez’s daughter Emme sang “Born in the USA” while Lopez emerged draped in what appeared to be an American flag. When she flared it open, it showed the Puerto Rican flag:
Meanwhile, the lights behind her crisscrossed to resemble cages.
why isn’t anyone talking about how important the part when a little Latina girl is singing in a cage surrounded by other kids in cages?she got out&held hands w/the other girls as they embraced their culture w/pride w/jlo&shakira that was so powerful#PepsiHalftime #HalftimeShow pic.twitter.com/0nuUGoWlaM
— diana (@whatafeelingdjs) February 3, 2020
Some pointed out other imagery that signified the state in Puerto Rico where, following a massive earthquake in January, thousands remain without power:
— Kyle Ramirez (@kyletramirez) February 3, 2020
There were some (mainly conservatives) on Twitter whose commentary veered toward the clothing of Shakira and Lopez, because perhaps it’s easier to comment on that than having to address the discomfort of children in cages. But many others were moved by the artistic statements made by the musicians. In the build-up to the Super Bowl, the anticipation of watching the two on stage was high—and they outdid themselves.
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