Sunday night, we Americans were treated to a real spectacle. Something we never expected. Something we’ve never seen. It was unprecedented: a Hollywood woman willing to take her clothes off to get ahead in show business. Kudos to Jennifer Lopez and Shakira for being so brave during their Super Bowl LIV halftime show performance.
They’d like us to never stop talking about it. And they’d like us to really believe what I said above, to pretend it’s never happened before. But the truth is, we got exactly what we were all expecting. Hollywood has run out of original ideas. There is nothing new under the Sunset Strip.
And yet, paradoxically, the entertainment industry’s ability to influence our neighbors here on Main Street has never been greater. Main Street is where the real America lives. We wake up, go to work every day, raise our families and worship on the weekends. But Main Street never seems to influence Los Angeles elites. It’s sadly, maddeningly the other way around.
The Elites like to preach to us Main Streeters about tolerance, privilege and the #MeToo movement. Why is it, then, that every proponent of women’s empowerment includes a striptease? “Women are powerful,” they say. “They can think for themselves,” they shout. “Women don’t need a man to live the good life; they can get everything they need all by themselves.”
And then, they cancel out the truth of those statements by asking the woman to remove her clothing, gyrate her hips, and make suggestive gestures to millions of slobbering men.
I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t make me feel too empowered.
I’m thankful I did not let my five daughters watch the performance last night. I knew it would not be the kind of thing that would be easy to unsee. The show glorified JLO and Shakira, literally lifting them up as figures of high esteem – worship, even. I did not want my girls to make the connection that taking your clothes off equates with self-worth and power.
Our culture accepts the early sexualization of girls without batting an eye. It teaches them that wealth, fame, and follower-count are the only ways to prove your personal value. The kids’ channels– Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel — funnel a constant feed of this type of messaging, on every episode of every program. Oh, and sprinkle in a little witchcraft and sorcery, just to keep the old cliche storylines fresh.
I have a modest proposal. It is simple, and it is easy. Every Christian household should apply to become a Nielsen ratings family. Nielsen will track what you watch on TV, sending ratings information back to the corporations that produce television programming. Every network uses this data to determine if a show is a hit or a dud. Simply by watching good television, and avoiding that which is salacious, impious and bawdy, we can set the agenda for what kind of programming hits the airwaves. Talk about empowerment.
Simple. Easy. Straightforward. And, it costs you nothing. This is how we can affect the American culture around us, with the simple click of a button. As they say, “My clicks don’t lie.”
Daniel Venturino is a culture commentator and author of The Battle for Main Street: How to Reclaim America’s Heritage.