Super Bowl half time show, 2020 and “Take it to the house kid”

by Andrada Costoiu

With the risk of stepping on some shoes I am going to say what I feel it’s right to say about our society.  This isn’t an article about politics, nor about sex, it is an article about parenthood and what we are teaching our children. It is an article about our future society and the values we promote.

“Take it to the house kid”

The opening of the game was so wonderful, with the cute, young kid who doesn’t stop running until he ends up with the ball in Miami at the Super Bowl.   Everybody is cheering him and shouts “ Take it to the house kid!” This “NFL 100” commercial was a big hit. 

There is no mystery about NFL using children in their commercials and also about them being aware that part of their audience are children. Looking at some statistics you will find that:

“The Super Bowl is the highest-rated show across all age groups. Last year, the game averaged a 30.2 percent rating with teens and 21.8 percent with kids 2-11” 

(Source: Super Bowl TV ratings: Fast facts at a glance, CNBC, Jan 28th, 2014)

The figures from 2014 have not changed much. According to Forbes, the 2019 Super Bowl was the highest rated program of the year with kids (18.6), teens (21.6) and every other age group

(Source: Forbes, What You Should Know About Super Bowl LIV Advertising And Broadcast, Brad Adgate, January 27th, 2020).

And as a parent, you get the whole family together for this event and you try to make it fun! You consider all kinds of ideas and suggestions of how to organize kids’ super Bowl Parties and how to make the Super Bowl watching fun with kids. 

Super Bowl is a family friendly show, or so I thought…..

Teaching kids values, good and bad

I want to make it simple: we are raw models for our kids and they look up to us. We teach them early on how to behave, what is appropriate and what is not. And what they learn from us stick with them for a long time.

We teach them by example. We read them books to teach them about working together, about friendship, unselfishness, and sacrifice. We point to good behavior and we explain why it’s good.

We also teach them about prejudice. A song from a very old movie, called South Pacific, sounds like this: 

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught

Cable – You’ve got to be taught
To hate
And fear
You’ve got to be taught
From year
To year
Its got to
Be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to
Be carefully
You’ve got to be taught
To be
Of people
Who’s eyes are oddly made
And people who’s skin is a different shade
You’ve got to
Be carefuly
You’ve got to be taught
Before it’s too late
Before you are six
Or seven
Or eight
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate
You’ve got to
Be carefully taught
You’ve got to
Be carefully taught
Emile De Beque –
This is just the kind of ugliness I was running away from
It has followed my all this way
All these years
And now it has found me
… Authors: Matthew MorrisonOscar Hammerstein II

This movie, South Pacific, is a 1958 American romantic musical film, one of the first movies to be made in Technicolor. It was one of the first movies that has made a particular point of combating prejudice and if you carefully read the lines of the songs, it says that You’ve got to be taught/Before it’s too late/Before you are six/Or seven/Or eight/To hate all the people/Your relatives hate/You’ve got to/ Be carefully taught”. Back then, this movie was not shown in some parts of the South….and we know why they didn’t want to talk about it!

This teaching takes place at a very early age. According to Sonia Kang and Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto: “young children are information hungry — they are eagerly searching for general rules to help in mapping out their social worlds” (Source: “Stigma building blocks: How instruction and experience teach children about rejection by outgroups.” 2012. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Mar 38(3):357-69.)

Fast forward to the half time show last night, that I was watching with my family. Who was the sensual choreography targeting? What was it meant to achieve?

Had I let my daughter, who is young, stay in the room, what do you think that would have taught her? 

The same goes for my son. What do you think a 10 years old boy would see and say: wow, these are two powerful women dancing? No, I don’t think so. Like there is an appropriate age for the consumption of alcohol, so there is an appropriate age for seeing these kinds of images.  And I don’t care if instead of Jeniffer Lopez and Shakira were 20 or 90 year olds, female or male, white, black or purple! I don’t want these images to be planted into my kids’ brains. There is a time for everything. 

Between prejudice and common sense

Most news outlets say that Shakira and J.Lo dazzled during the halftime performance. I agree, these are two beautiful singers, with talent and with wonderful dancing skills. But the show was not appropriate for the audience. If they put on such a show, they should say in advance PG-13. Maybe Shakira was ok, but Jennifer Lopez definitely not. As a mom, I would like to keep the innocence of my children as long as possible. 

Does this look appropriate to be viewed by a young child?

And you know, I have heard a lot of people saying that if you didn’t think it was appropriate, then it is because you are prejudiced.  It is because you are a white woman, a conservative, it is because you cannot go past the poles, it is because you are like this and like that. Really?  So, if you don’t want to show your kids the image of a woman, with her legs spread on top of a bunch of men, then ……there must be something wrong with you? Hello no!  There is nothing wrong with not wanting to introduce young kids to our culture of sex. And this is not how you teach kids good values and tolerance. 

And btw, I am a white woman and that is all. And maybe I will learn pole dancing too, I think it’s cool!

Please stop framing the discussion of how appropriate it was for the audience around social and political discussions of ethnicity, mom’s power or whatever the differences in our society are. This has nothing to do with it. We are all equal and we should appreciate each other for what we are.  But let’s think through what it is and what it is not appropriate. Let’s think through about the values we teach and we promote for our kids.

On a side note, I do not blame Shakira and Jenifer Lopez. They were performing what they were asked to perform and they did a wonderful job as singers and dancers.  But I am disappointed in the NFL, in the cameramen who chose to focus their lenses on the singers’ private parts instead of the ensemble and also in the choreographers who put on this show.


And now, after I have said all I had to say, I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint Expert: “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”(Antoine de Saint-Exupery.1943 “The little prince.”) Forget about all the prejudices you might have and think about that. Think about seeing what you have seen in the half time show through the eyes of a young child. 


© Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Russian Revolution, communism and the lives in between

by Andrada Costoiu

Mind tricks

I haven’t read any books about Russia for a long time. Russians have beautiful literature; they have Leo Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Chekhov, Gogol and many other wonderful writers.  I did not stop reading their books because I didn’t like their stories; I did like their literature. Though, I guess my rebellious mind unconsciously protested against anything that had to do with Russia because I grew up in a communist country and I blamed communism and everything that had to do with it on Russia.

Indeed, by the end of WWII in the countries that the Red Army ‘liberated’, communist-dominated governments took power. By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, became Stalinist regimes.

The map of Europe looked like this…. 

Romania became communist in 1947. I wasn’t born back then but my grandparents were. Unfortunately we were a noble family and that was really bad! The Communists took everything my grandparents had, all the lands and….everything. Later on they sent my father and my uncle to a correctional school because they had to “un-noble “ them and they had to be educated in the “communist spirit”. Appalling ….but other people had it worse….

My grandparents never talked much about this past.

I don’t really have a feel of what was life before communism but I do know what was like growing up under communism. Here are some things that I remember:

–It was allowed only 2 hour per day to watch television between 8 and 10 PM and usually they will put just news or documentaries about Ceausescu and his wife. As kids, we would only have cartoons 10 minutes a day and in the weekends it was half an hour. I remember all of us kids running from outside where we were playing to go in front of the TV so we can watch some Tom and Jerry….

— The communist party was trying to denigrate the image of Christmas, as it was considered too religious. So we did not have Santa Claus, Santa was banned! Instead we had  Mos Gerila,  a kind of slim, funny version of Santa. They wanted kids to believe that this guy was bringing presents from the state…..and that it wasn’t a magical creature. We still believed though, because our parents somehow managed to nurture our imagination…..

This is a picture of Mos Gerila from a newspaper in 1947. Still, our image of it was the one with beard and it pretty much looked like Santa, because our parents, the ones who dressed up like it, never looked so hunky :))).

–When my aunt who moved to Germany sent me a pair of jeans it was a miracle. In communist Romania, almost nobody owned a paired of jeans because that was a luxury. 

–I remember my parents planning to go in vacations or visits during the weekends. The planning was a whole production! Why? Because depending of your license plate you could only drive your car two weekends a month! They would alternate between even and odd license plate numbers! In some weekends you could only drive your car if the license number plate was ending in 2, 4, 6 e.g.  and in others the ones ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 e.g. If they caught you with wrong plate number you would have been arrested. How weird is that!!

–Every month you could only use 20 L gas, that is about 5 gallons a month!! Yes, that was all you had! So you had to plan your travels carefully and save gas if you wanted to take a longer trip! Also, we had a car but to own a car back then was a complete luxury.  In 1989, before the revolution, in Bucharest there were only about 200. 000 cars. Now there are millions of cars in Romania….. 

–During communism the borders were closed. Nobody could go outside the country. We never imported many goods, so imagine when after 1989 when finally products were imported! Juices, cigars, sweets were things nobody tasted in their life! 

So yes, I remember all these things and others too. Russia, communist rule, our lives. I never wanted to go back, not even in my mind. And apparently I kept everything away, even the wonderful Russian novels that were completely unrelated with the spread of communism and what it did to us……

An old trilogy: “Sisters” (1921-1922), “The Eighteenth Year” (1927-1928) and “Gloomy Morning” (1940-1941), by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy

I’ve bought these three books from my neighborhood bookstore, in California. I think what attracted me most were the covers and the old feel! These books are over 50 years old; they were published in 1953. Who knows who left them in this bookstore ….

This author is not Leo Tolstoy, but some sources say that they were distant relatives. I don’t know much about their relationship, but whereas Aleksey was not an influential global writer as Leo Tolstoy, he did leave an interesting legacy that includes many wonderful works. 

And so, I read them….

The story revolves around 4 main characters, 2 sisters and their husbands. Dasha and Katya are the sisters and Telegin and Roshkin are their husbands. I was swept by the true love between these people but most of all I was swept by how the turmoil of historical events shaped people’s lives and their destinies.

This trilogy traces the development of the Russian society during the critical years of WWI, the 1917 Russian Revolution and the civil war in Russia. 

Russia fought WWI on the Eastern Front. As many other armies, Russian army too lost a lot of soldiers, and more …because the Russian Army had about one doctor for every 10,000 men. Thus, many wounded soldiers died from wounds that would have been treated on the Western Front.

This is a map of Europe in the year of 1914, drawn by a German graphic artist, Walter Trier

Then the Russian Revolution started in March 1917, the monarchy was abolished. The Civil War followed….

The Civil War was between the Red Army, known as the communist Bolsheviks and the White Army, who greatly favored nationalism and monarchism. And in between, there was also the Green Army that rose from the peasantry. The Greens grew tired of the Red Army requisitioning their livestock, food, and able-bodied men so they rose to protect their communities.

As the history of Russia was being made, people’s lives were turned upside down to the point that soldiers and officers that fought together in the WWI ended up fighting against and killing each other in the revolution and in the Civil War. 

Reading these books made me think about a distant past and about these people, about how much they went through and about how much they suffered. Then about the Russian Revolution, the spread of communism and what it did to people living in Eastern Europe…

People and places, our lives

You see, we create meaning through the exchange between spheres of different rationalities. Depending to what we are exposed to, we create our identities and shape our life trajectories.

During communism, people were in a deeply flawed position. They learned gobbets of information and wrong teachings and information were stored in the society’s collective memory banks. Thus how could one give a reasoned critique to what was really happening?

I saw what happened to my family, what they took from us, how they transformed our lives. But I was just a child. Human mind displays great ingenuity and so I blocked everything that had to do with Russia, even their literature. Looking back, this was crazy……..

I will have to ponder about it more, but one thing that comes to my mind now is that are all people, we are individuals with similar fears, needs and desires.  We are all living histories; we are told or untold biographies. We have to take time to learn about the world and about other’s views of the world.  Our lives are our own and we have to keep learning.

Since tomorrow is Christmas, let’s try to give our best to the ones around us! Peace and love from me to all of you.


© Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.