American Renaissance

The Disgusting Super Bowl Halftime Show

Rabbi Shumley Boteach, © 2004, Feb. 2

I have been watching the Super Bowl since I was 9 years old. I still remember so many of the highlights, beginning with Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann’s miraculous connections in Super Bowl X, in Miami. I still love watching the Super Bowl and I make a Super Bowl party for my kids every year.

But while the game is usually wonderful, the halftime show is becoming increasingly depraved. It would be nice if we football fans could watch the NFL championship game as a celebration of the human competitive spirit, rather than a display of the latest pop-tart’s cleavage.

It seems incredible to me that the NFL would have allowed itself to be used to launch the next decadent music act, but that’s what the Super Bowl halftime shows seem to have become. But this year was by far the most degenerate of all. Justin Timberlake, a man distinguished neither for his dance nor his music, decided to open Janet Jackson’s blouse and expose her breast. I’m not making this up. As soon as I saw it, I knew it had been planned, even though Janet gave this shocked look of surprise.

Timberlake, who is locked in a permanent game of one-upmanship with his former girlfriend — the vulgar and prostitute-like Britney Spears — was looking to upstage the Britney-Madonna kiss. That’s what happens in a popular culture which has deteriorated to being almost entirely about empty sensationalism.

At the very least, Madonna and Britney’s desperate attention-getting act was performed on a music-awards show which, due to the perverted state of today’s music, seemed to blend right in. But Justin and Janet’s much more crude and offensive act was done during the Super Bowl halftime show — when all my kids were watching.

They looked confused and bewildered. What the heck was that? What is nudity doing on the Super Bowl? What is such disgusting behavior doing during a football game. How could the NFL allow the degradation of its flagship event? Is there really no level to which the modern culture won’t stoop?

Do the kids of America need to see Janet’s breast? Is there any way for me as a father to protect my five daughters from images of women inviting their own sexual exploitation just to appear in tomorrow’s tabloids?

By allowing such disgusting spectacles, the NFL degrades every athlete who took thousands of body blows though the long football season to reach the Super Bowl. This is their moment. It dare not be stolen away by Neanderthalic music miscreants.

The rest of the halftime show was equally vulgar and positively awful. P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock combined to produce nothing but horrible noise. Kid Rock especially seemed to be screaming at the top of his lungs with absolutely no melody accompanying him. I do not claim to be a connoisseur of music and no doubt some of the younger generation will accuse me of being backward and judgmental. But if I’m wrong and this is music, then why is it more famous for nudity and sensationalism than rhythm and lyrics?

Amazingly, even the Cialis and Levitra commercials - both of which appeared at least three times each during the Super Bowl - were infinitely more respectable and subtle than the halftime show. And they were both commercials for erection pills!

In the midst of it all, CBS was running commercials for next week’s Grammys. The usual cast of lowlifes, including Madonna and Britney, were highlighted. They said that a special tribute to the Beatles would be included in the Grammys, as if there were any connection between today’s exploitative and wearisome acts, who gain attention through vulgar sensationalism, and the Beatles, whose music was lasting and heavenly.

But if music is going into the gutter, that doesn’t mean that America’s leading sport, and greatest sporting event, need follow it.

Come on NFL. Get some dignity.