Slices of Life By: Jill Pertler-The sexuality of prime time
February 8, 2013
By now the dust is settling, and the leather has been discarded for next week’s costume change, but last Sunday’s performance – without so much as a hint of a lip sync – is being touted as one of the best halftime shows in Super Bowl history. That Beyonce really knows how to learn a lesson, huh? One of the best. Ever. In the history of the biggest football game of the year. And me, in my infinite naivety – before the fireworks stopped sizzling on stage – logged onto Facebook and announced (publicly) that I was not a fan of the halftime act. In fact, I openly disapproved of the blatant and sexually implicit dancing and costumes. I also admitted to being a fuddy duddy. By golly, I believe I hit a nerve. A few minutes and Facebook comments later, I found myself amongst a divided group of television viewers. Many agreed with me; I received a number of Likes. Yippee! In contrast, some thought the act was entertaining. Great, in fact. The dancers were described as athletic. Singing and dancing – at the same time – takes a bit of stamina and physical prowess, so I’m told. Regarding the overall choreography, this second group didn’t perceive the sexual nature as a problem for prime time TV. We see it all the time, why not during the Super Bowl? Therein lies the sentence defining the problem: “We see it all the time.” Sex appeal sells. In advertisements. In movies. During halftime at the Super Bowl. You don’t have to be Beyonce’s manager to understand the concept. So we are bombarded. We are exposed so often the shock wears off and the experience becomes commonplace. The stage can be filled with women dressed in dominatrix leather – dancing and rolling on the ground in what can only be described as an explicit manner – but we hardly pause from eating our chili cheese dip to notice because we’ve viewed similar acts before. Many times. As a society we’ve become desensitized, and I think that’s unfortunate. To make matters worse, the media touts this year’s halftime as one of the best shows ever. If media professionals can’t recognize artistic brilliance who can? I’m sure there was a huge amount of talent on the stage. I’m not disputing that. What I do take cause with is the manner in which it was displayed. Yes, the women showed athletic moves, but so do pole dancers. I’m not questioning the athleticism or worthiness of any type of dancer – just their appropriateness for prime time television. Sexuality aside, at what point does this become exploitation of women (or men if you happened to watch some of the underwear commercials)? Or, it is okay because these female performers came across as aggressive, leather-wearing, take-charge gals who wouldn’t take any guff from anyone? What if they’d been in the submissive role on stage; would any feathers be ruffled then? What have we, as a society, become if we are comfortable sitting on our couches watching this with our children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents? A show like that was something you used to see in Vegas (now I’m dating myself), not during prime time during a football game millions of families are viewing together over plates of bacon-wrapped weenies and chicken wings. The image of Beyonce and her cohorts gyrating in their leather garb was not a memory my teenage boys and I needed to share. Sorry. What do you expect? I’ve already admitted to being a fuddy duddy. I realize I can’t fight city hall or the NFL. Super Bowl hype isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The commercials and halftime shows are going to grab our attention whenever and however they can. Sometimes the methods shock and even offend. Often that’s part of the plan. But not always. One of the most talked about and well-liked commercials of the evening was a spin-off of a simple and simply beautiful piece recorded by radio personality Paul Harvey in 1978 titled, “So God Made a Farmer.” The verbal prose highlighted the basic, core principals demonstrated by farmers: hard work, a love of the land and old-fashioned family values. Photos of farmers accompanied the voiceover. Their weather worn faces and hard working hands told their story like no tight leather ever could. Sound boring and dated? It wasn’t. Which goes to show, there may be hope for fuddy duddies like me after all. Gosh, I hope so. Follow Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like (please). Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.
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