FCC gets 1,300 complaints over Jennifer Lopez, Shakira Super Bowl halftime show

"I do not subscribe to The Playboy Channel, we do not buy porn for $20 a flick, we simply wanted to sit down as a family and watch the Super Bowl," said one complaint to the FCC.
Image: Shakira and Jennifer Lopez perform during the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 2, 2020.
Shakira and Jennifer Lopez perform during the Super Bowl halftime show in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Feb. 2, 2020.Seth Wenig / AP

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By Janelle Griffith

All appeared well on the field at Super Bowl 54. Until halftime. That's when some in America apparently grew offended by the booty shaking and pole dancing during the show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.

The Federal Communications Commission received more than 1,300 complaints about the halftime show, the agency told NBC News on Wednesday, adding that it was in the process of posting the complaints on its website.

The complaints were first reported by ABC affiliate WFAA of Dallas, which said it obtained the information through the Freedom of Information Act.

The most common complaint seemed to be about appropriateness, with some suggesting it should have had an R rating attached to it.

The FCC received complaints from every state except Vermont, according to WFAA, which also found that the most objections — 140 — came from Texas. The station noted that some of the complaints released as part of the FCC's response to its FOIA were duplicates, so it is unclear whether those viewers submitted the same complaint multiple times.

Names and other identifying information were redacted from the complaints by the FCC before they were made public.

The Super Bowl drew more than 100 million viewers on Fox and all of its platforms, according to Nielsen.

One complaint from Ogden, Utah, said, "This should be a family friendly show." Instead, the complaint said, audiences "were exposed to an adult only show that you would see in Las Vegas."

"I am completely disappointed that this is acceptable to show on television," the commenter added. "I am disgusted that these performances were not censored before hand. If they were censored, they weren't censored adequately. I feel bad for my daughters who think that type of behavior is acceptable and that they should dress and perform inappropriate acts."

Another, more strongly worded complaint compared the performances to pornography.

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"I do not subscribe to The Playboy Channel, we do not buy porn for $20 a flick, we simply wanted to sit down as a family and watch the Super Bowl," the complaint said. "God forbid we expected to watch football and a quick concert but instead had our eyes molested. Shame on you for allowing that to infiltrate our homes."

Lopez's and Shakira's performances were hailed by many for putting Latin culture center stage. The New York Times' chief pop music critic, Jon Pareles, said the show "was a no-nonsense affirmation of Latin pride and cultural diversity in a political climate where immigrants and American Latinos have been widely demonized."

The FCC got 94 complaints about Adam Levine's 2019 halftime show, during which he exposed his chest, according to Deadspin. And in 2004, the halftime show, with Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, yielded 540,000 complaints, a record, The Times reported that year.