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.