Super Music at the Super Bowl?

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Since I live in Colorado, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m a Denver Broncos fan. I had been watching Peyton Manning and listening to many of his interviews, and he always came across to me as a class act. So, on Sunday, I was able to watch the entire Super Bowl and cheer for No. 18 and the rest of Coach Gary Kubiak’s chosen few. Yes, I went to bed feeling very happy. Except:

While I applaud the Super Bowl’s decision makers’ choice of Coldplay for the primary halftime act, I was once again shaking my head that Bruno Mars and Beyoncé were asked back. For millions, getting the Super Bowl gig is synonymous with endorsing who they are, the music they perform and the lyrical messages they “preach.”

When Beyoncé and her dancers took the stage with their black leather get-ups and began their sensual dance moves, my wife put her dismay in the form of a question: “Hon, how would you feel if our daughter were one of those dancers?” Of course, she knows how I feel, but I answered her anyway.

In case you missed it, Beyoncé and her crew sang “Formation,” a track that Time magazine describes thusly:

This song is all about the pleasures of having a black female body and owning it. “Cocky fresh” Bey calls her black feminist aesthetic. Cocky, as in enjoying pleasure with a sense of controlling her own sexuality that’s usually reserved for men: “When he f— me good, I take his a– to Red Lobster, ’cause I slay” she sings, letting us know having good sex is all about flexing her power in a relationship. She slays while he has to scramble to earn post-sex rewards.

Note that Beyoncé’s Super Bowl version was somewhat cleaner. But given the praise that her halftime performance earned, it’s clear that many believe that  Time thinks Beyoncé’s message to young women (and men) about using sex for leverage is something positive and freeing. I can’t tell you how strongly I disagree. I’m still in the old-school camp that believes sex is a wonderful gift from God to be enjoyed in the marriage bed, not as a way to exert power over someone.

And although Bruno Mars is incredibly talented, and his performance was throttled back from a lot of what he’s known for, he, like Beyoncé, often peddles sleaze, drugs and booze. People who liked his halftime sound wouldn’t need to go too far into his musical output before they’d run headlong into some pretty serious content issues.

It seems to me that there are hundreds if not thousands of talented musicians in the world. And that we’d send a much better message to our fellow citizens (and global audience) if we chose more Chris Martins (Coldplay) and fewer (as in zero) Beyoncés and Brunos. Wouldn’t it make the Super Bowl that much more super?!

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, while everyone on here is complaining about something, the real problem isn't the halftime show at all. It's the pointless and overtly selfish act of letting life revolve around a silly game. Maybe we wouldn't have to talk about what issues artist pushed if we took away that speaking power altogether. Instead of crowding around a screen with a bunch of half drunk people, why don't we go out in the world and do good. Maybe get rid of that tv and Crack a book. Maybe play work your kids or have a bible study. The only reason we are talking about these celebs is because we've handed them the keys to our society and flood money that could be used for actual good into idiotic sports events. Shut it all down. 
JeffD503 More than 1 year ago

I'm not a football fan, but I do have to take issue with your stance on sports. What is so wrong about enjoying a game? I've recently become a hockey fan, and let me tell you something, my dad and I actually have bonded over it. We enjoy watching the games together, especially the Washington Capitals. Now, yeah, hockey doesn't have the hype of football or the Super Bowl, but we don't let it rule our lives. We're disappointed when we can't see them play, and yes, we do place some importance on the Stanley Cup finals, but what is so wrong about enjoying a sport, whether it be football, baseball, basketball, hockey or what have you? Can people take it to extremes? Sure, but that doesn't mean sports events are idiotic. Yes, in the end, it's just a game.


And by the way, that's a bit of an unfair assumption, that everyone who crowds around a screen to watch a game is half-drunk. There are people who don't drink while watching games.

Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
Can't help noticing that the response to nearly every article about the toxicity of the culture lately, from the content of musicians' output to a smart-phone caused social deficit, is "But I *enjoy* that thing, so, completely ignoring any of the points made in your article about why it isn't, it is obviously a good thing."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since this comment is partially directed at me, I'll answer. The points made in this article were, in order: Beyonce's original song had swearing in it (removed for the Bowl, so who cares? Not relevant to the performance); Beyonce and her dancers performed sexual moves (really? I didn't think they were all that bad at all); and Bruno Mars is talented but gosh, his other music is lewd (once again, irrelevant to the performance at hand). So, there: points unignored, points refuted. I still disagree and I still think it was a great performance which would've been even greater sans Coldplay.
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
But the article remains utterly un-refuted, because that wasn't the point. The critique (beyond the dance moves) was precisely NOT at the songs performed at halftime, but at the body of work by the performers that were being 'promoted' by appearing at halftime. You say that the comments were irrelevant to the performance at hand, but beyond that initial comment, the article's point isn't ABOUT the performance at hand. It's about 'is someone like this really who we want to be showcasing and potentially encouraging viewers to go check out further? Just because they cleaned up one song for the superbowl doesn't mean that the rest of what viewers will find is so 'wholesome.'' 

In short, if this performance represents exposure to a much larger potential audience than these artists might normally have, then considering that you might be putting who-knows-how-many-people onto an artist (and their body of work), whom they might not have been inclined to seek out otherwise... then are these really the artists you want to pick to do that with?

So the 'not relevant' points were the entire point of the article, while the objectionability or lack thereof of the performances you cite are 'irrelevant' to the article's thesis. It's talking at cross-purposes; 'Even though A was fine, B and C are terrible' vs. 'Why are you complaining? A was just fine.'
Lisa Plummer More than 1 year ago
Ok but only if we apply the same standards to the football players.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That's still a completely irrelevant argument. I've no idea why we should discuss the merits of the performers rather than the performance. If that were so, then I should mention that the football players themselves are hardly angels, so we probably shouldn't be watching the Super Bowl itself, either. I think the idea is ridiculous that we shouldn't enjoy a Super Bowl halftime performance because the rest of the artist's music doesn't appeal to us. Unless the person is an abuser or a violent criminal or something of that nature, I don't see why that should be an issue. When The Who performed in 2010 I didn't feel sick to my stomach watching them because I was thinking of the 1979 concert disaster. When the Stones performed in 2006 I wasn't thinking of their checkered history. I enjoy the performance and the music as it is, and I don't care about anything else the artist has done at that moment, especially if I don't tend to listen to their music. Maybe you should do the same, and then the Super Bowl halftime show would be much more enjoyable for you.  
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
Perhaps. On the other hand, perhaps examining the things we would otherwise enjoy for what messages they're feeding us is good discernment. Either way, it's what this site is about, and what this article is about; that was my only point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't disagree more with this article. In my case it was the choice of Coldplay that had me shaking my head. Bruno Mars and Beyonce put on a great and entertaining performance, nothing too sexualized about it at all. I really didn't think her dance moves were all that lewd. Coldplay, on the other hand, was a yawn! Their music is FAR too mellow for a pump-me-up event such as the Super Bowl. When the main singer was walking down the stage along with Bruno and Beyonce, it was almost sad how out-of-place he looked. I didn't notice anything wrong with the performance - I was cheering when Uptown Funk began playing. It was fantastic and energetic (minus Coldplay). 
jimbperkins More than 1 year ago
Beyoncé's performance was showing her solidarity with the Blacklivesmatter movement. She and her back up dancers were wearing Black Panther outfits. Her message was showing that she is proud of her heritage and being a black woman. Sex and sexuality are two separate things. Beyoncé wasn't overtly flaunting her sexuality in a negative way. Beyoncé's global message showed she was proud of being black and expressing herself through a global platform.
Pete DiAngi More than 1 year ago
Yu are under a very large rock if you don't see wearing the equivalent of a leather bathing suit while constantly spreading your legs wide on a global stage isn't sleazy,  Porno graphic or wrong.. .. . Don't even get me started on the lyrics
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Agreed!
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
One might say that, from a Biblical standpoint, flaunting your sexuality in ANY way outside the marriage bed is flaunting it in a bad way.

And I think the point of the article was not so much the particular performance, but the body of work in general that can be found behind the artists 'honored' with a landmark halftime spot. Whether the songs used at halftime were the issues or not, are these artists and the messages they espouse outside of the Superbowl really something that we want to promote to a massive audience by featuring them here?
jimbperkins More than 1 year ago
Sexuality is part of ones personality. The bible talks about the act of sex. The halftime show is known for it's iconic performers and performances. The Super Bowl promotes violence to a massive audience. 
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
That doesn't meant it's a part of the personality meant for mass consumption.

The Bible records historical events, and it discusses God's intent from sex; with all due respect, it's absurd to compare the works of a musical artist to that in any way. They are not even remotely in the same context, nor from the same authority, nor possessed of the same approval before God.

Yes, the halftime show is known for its iconic performers and performances... and as the article suggests, there are hundreds of iconic performers out there. Suggesting that the halftime show can be more discerning in who it chooses to promote in no way conflicts with that notion.

And yeah, maybe it does. maybe that's not right, either. Not really a football fan myself. Either way, two wrongs don't make a right; at best, your statement suggests there shouldn't BE a Superbowl rather than doing anything to defend the choice of performers at halftime. 'Something else is just as bad' is never a defense of the first thing.
jimbperkins More than 1 year ago
Personality is meant to be shared. I was referring to the Bible in the context of of the physical part of sex. I understand the historical events. Why is it absurd to use an artist as an example of God's intent for sex? 
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
Personality is meant to be shared; sexuality is meant to be shared only within the context of a marriage, and only with the person you're married to. That's the biblical standard.

And it is absurd because, frankly, there is no artist on Earth that can speak with the authority or wisdom of God; suggesting that because the Bible does something, so can an artist, is like suggesting that a homeless person can make law because the Supreme Court does. There is a distinct difference in the authority of the sources. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would consider all three shows to have "preached" very anti-biblical messages during the show, Coldplay included. You have already touched on Beyonce and Bruno Mars, so I'll just make a quick comment about Coldplay. Coldplay's performance shoved the LGBTQ movement down the throats of its listeners/viewers and promoted it with the slogan "Believe in Love" in rainbow colors while also focusing on others who were waving Pride flags. I would have normally enjoyed a song by the group, but not when it's unabashedly promoting such blatantly sinful lifestyles and acts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Huh. What exactly did Coldplay do to shove a theme down your throat? I didn't really sense anything being shoved down my throat. I didn't hear anything offensive in their lyrics. And I've been seeing people writing angry articles about the "Believe in Love" statement at the end, just like you did. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised at how utterly offended people get over a four-second-long display of a message as innocent as "believe in love". If that's your idea of something being shoved down your throat, perhaps you could grow a little bit of a thicker skin so such innocent things can't get underneath it... 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting. I saw secular artists promoting secularism. Wasn't Coldplay's performance an homage to the LGBT movement?
Randall Allen More than 1 year ago
I hardly ever watch the halftime show. I usually pre-record the Super Bowl and watch it later, fast-forwarding through the show. This year, I watched the broadcast live but muted the halftime while I checked Facebook and dove into a second helping of homemade nachos. The last halftime show that was worth watching was the one with Paul McCartney.
Lisa Bogert More than 1 year ago
Agreed. I used the time to take my dogs out. LOL
Dan Haynes More than 1 year ago
Content issues notwithstanding, I'd rather hear Bruno Mars or Beyonce than Coldplay any day. The former two have a lot of fire and showmanship backed with great talent. The latter, not so much. Coldplay are right up there with Nickleback and Creed as far as I'm concerned in the "Worst Band In the World" category. The first time I heard "When I Ruled the World" on the car radio without knowing who it was I thought to myself "Man...this is the worst U2 song I've ever heard." Disposable, saccharine, superficial. I didn't watch the game or the halftime show, with all the controversy about Beyonce's performance I'll have to look it up on YouTube I guess.  
Kal El More than 1 year ago
Excellent write up. I can't find words to express how passionately I disagree with her lyrics. She's proved numerous times to be quite a raging sexist (don't forget she also wrote that 'girls run the world' song). Watching her halftime show I tuned out her misguided lyrics and was distracted by her she disrespects herself with her commercialization of sex. But the worst was yet to come: I read an article yesterday about how she modeled her and her dancers' outfits of the Black Panthers (feel free to look into it). So we can add racism to her resume as well as sexism. How in the world anyone can be ok with her endorsing a racist, hateful organization like that is beyond me. If they had put a white artist out there who decided to give a plug to the KKK, people would be outraged, and rightly so, but when Beyoncé supports the black version of the KKK it's not a huge scandal? That's a disturbing inconsistency, especially in an age when racism and racial tension are on the rise and egged on by the media at every turn. Does nobody understand equality means for ALL races and BOTH genders? Can we get a performer who endorses THAT next Super Bowl?

I've long thought Skillet should be asked to play the halftime show, because they have amazing music and fantastic stage effects and presence, and, get this, they are virtuous, Godly artists worth cheering for!
Shawn Fitzgerald More than 1 year ago
I could not agree more.  It made me ill watching and listening to it.  What's bad is now considered good in society and we praise them for their work, as destructive as it might be.