For me, the Super Bowl Halftime Show is the show – it’s the only part of the Super Bowl that I really understand. Don’t get me wrong, I like cheering for teams (Go Bills?) but I just can’t seem to follow football’s rules. (I can, however, follow a great recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip.) Maintaining a family-friendly nature during the halftime show has been a major focus for the NFL since 2005, the year my daughter was born. But why? I was watching in 2004 when Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s pastie-covered nipple, and I have to say, though there was some shock value involved, it was honestly not the enormous deal it’s been made out to be. A woman breastfeeding on a park bench shows more nip than Ms. Jackson did.
The six years subsequent to Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” have brought us “heritage” rock acts: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Springsteen and The Who. SPIN magazine notes that “efforts to bring G-rated fare into everyone’s living room haven’t always worked: Bruce Springsteen managed to crotch-slide into a camera in 2009, while Prince appeared to mime masturbation.” Funny, but those are the only two performances since 2004 that I actually remember. Springsteen’s crotch slide was thrilling (I’m half his age and I grumble when I’m bent over picking up toys) and the image of Prince’s hilarious, brilliant, subtle finger-to-the-man shadow play during his amazing guitar solo is burned in my retinas forever.
So what will Super Bowl 2011’s halftime show bring? The Black Eyed Peas, whose first big single “Let’s Get It Started” was originally titled “Let’s Get Retarded.” Compared to their latest Dirty Dancing-meets-an-ecstasy-filled-gay-nightclub track “The Time,” “Let’s Get it Started” sounds like a Gordon Lightfoot classic. When “The Time” came on the car radio while we were driving to school the other day, my daughter said, “Ugh. This song is terrible.” She’s 5. Techno just after breakfast is a bit much.
Then again, I’ve definitely shaken a thing or two to “My Humps,” and even Oprah loves their smash hit “I Gotta Feelin’.” Are the Black Eyed Peas that bad? Where is the love?
SPIN magazine previewed the Black Eyed Peas show and quoted front man will.i.am as saying, “We’re known for doing outlandish things and we’re going to make this a big spectacle.” The Peas will perform “a 15-minute medley of songs that features some outrageous new dance moves and an over-the-top wardrobe.” (Take a look at the photo of Fergie at the top of this post for an idea of what to expect.) “This outfit I’m wearing, it created jobs,” will.i.am jokes. “I’m stimulating the economy.” Ahem.
As St. Louis sports blogger Dan Moore put it, “I know no Black Eyed Peas fans.” I know what he means. The Black Eyed Peas are a group that you sort of either tolerate or loathe, but I can’t imagine anyone actually being a huge fan. I dig will.i.am’s style, and I admire anyone unashamed of peeing their pants in front of a crowd. (Fergie and your kid may have more in common than you think.) “All that aside, will.i.am knows there are plenty of Black Eyed Peas haters out there, and he says the halftime show isn’t intended to change their minds — or gain new fans like your grandmother,” SPIN contends. “This isn’t about winning people over,” will.i.am says. “But even if people don’t like us, I want them to say ‘That [bleep] was crazy! Them [bleeps] was nuts! That was the best 13-minutes I’ve seen! And that guy will.i.am is awesome as [bleep]. [Bleep]!’ ”
My Super Bowl 2011 prediction? Some parents may not like it, but this halftime show will be as bat[bleep] crazy as it should be. That way, no matter which team you’re rooting for, we all win.
If you’re concerned about your children seeing entertainment that isn’t family-friendly, you might want to send them to their rooms during the halftime show. And many of the commercials. And the part where grown men beat each other up over a football. And TV in general. Just a thought.