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As Typical White Guys Do
By Erynn Porter
So yeah, Super Bowl 2019 huh? I’m not one for sports, but unless you live under a rock, you heard about this year’s Super Bowl. The NFL has been in hot water the past couple of years due to their treatment of former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
In 2016, Kaepernick started a peaceful protest against police brutality towards people of color by kneeling during the national anthem. This caused many fans to rage against the quarterback, claiming he was being “anti-American.”
Of course, one of best perks of being an American is the freedom of speech and right to protest...but we'll move on.
The last few years have been full of political strife and NFL fans were furious that Kaepernick was bringing politics into the game. They wanted an escape, not a reminder that all Americans aren’t equal. They did not respect that Kaepernick was being smart by recognizing he has a platform and could try to make changes to an unjust world.
Ultimately the fans got their way and Kaepernick was blacklisted from the NFL. Though that by no means stopped his protest and only gave him a brighter spotlight.
Now, fast forward to the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show with Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi. Let’s just get this out of the way, whoever did the halftime show was going to get flack. For as many people who are mad at Kaepernick, there are as many people mad for him. There is no way for everyone to be happy.
But, of course a group of mostly white guys took the gig that artists of color turned down in support of Kaepernick. Maroon 5 was not the NFL’s first choice, or second choice, or third choice. Rihanna, Cardi B, and Pink all supposedly turned down the “opportunity” in support of Kaepernick.
As typical white guys do, Maroon 5 didn’t care. They didn’t want to be involved in politics. It must be easy for them to say that given the fact that they are rich white men. Not a lot of the political climate touches them.
Though they were smart enough to realize the fact that they are a group of mostly white men. Supposedly the band was searching desperately for an artist of color to perform with them. Just like with the NFL, a lot of people said no. Variety reported that the band reached out to “more than half-dozen stars” to join them. Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000), Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lauryn Hill, and Nicki Minaj have been reported to have said no to the group.
It’s truly disappointing because Maroon 5 doesn’t need the platform that the Superbowl gives.
Just a reminder, performing at the halftime show is all about exposure because the NFL does not pay artists. That is a whole other problem that we won’t talk about right now.
Maroon 5 is plenty famous and they have a platform, though if you hear Adam Levine’s words towards the whole thing you would think he believes otherwise.
Before the show Levine has been quoted saying, “I don't want to spoil anything, but I've never been more excited in my life to present this to the people because I truly believe it's a representation of all of us. I'd like to think that people know where I stand as a human being after two decades doing this. We're going to keep doing what we're doing, hopefully without becoming politicians, to make people understand we got you. We got you.”
Essentially that long quote boils down to, “I’m not a politician, I’m just making music. Even though I’m doing this, I totally support everyone.”
The problem is you don’t have to be a politician to make a change. You need to have your voice be heard. You need a platform of, I don’t know, millions of people that will listen to every word you say.
Levine is trying to play both sides of this controversy. Props to him for trying, but it’s making him look really bad. It’s seems very similar to a white guy saying “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend.” Levine is saying that even though he is playing for an organization that clearly is taking away the first amendment rights of its players, he is still supporting Kaepernick.
You just can’t do both. Only a white guy would try.
Levine only dug his hole deeper with his response after the show. In an Instagram post he thanked his “critics” for pushing the band to be better. He then goes on to write a lot of cliché words like forgive, laugh, embrace.
What stands out though are words like endure, fight, and kneel. The guy that played for the organization that punishes knelling wrote kneel as a response to people who were upset with him for doing the show.
Only a white guy would have the confidence to do such a thing.
Let’s go back a little bit to the fact that Kaepernick is blacklisted from the NFL. You know who else is?
Janet. Freaking. Jackson.
Why? Because of a wardrobe malfunction she had no control over.
Way back in 2004, Jackson performed with Justin Timberlake at the NFL halftime show. Timberlake accidently ripped a piece of Jackson’s costume, exposing the pasty covering her nipple. She received so much criticism for the incident that people think it cause her career to take a huge hit.
Jackson even issued an apology for an accident that wasn’t her fault.
You know who else showed nipple at a halftime show? Adam Levine. He even did it on purpose. How scandalous! It’s seems the NFL is okay with his nipples though.
Like in 2004, the difference between how society treats men and women shines brightly. It’s okay for Levine to give a strip show, but Jackson had to deal with criticism and a fine for an accident.
Also, like Levine, her counterpart, Timberlake is a white guy. A white guy that got little to no backlash for what he did. Yes, it was an accident, but he technically ripped away Jackson’s breast plate. His career soared after the incident, while Jackson’s took a dive.
Plus, Timberlake appeared again at the halftime show in 2018.
The double standard is obvious when it comes to men’s and women’s nipples. Even though they look the same, women’s are more shameful. That few seconds of exposure caused Jackson to looked at like a heathen, while Levine’s nipples were out to play for longer and were perfectly fine.
Many people are calling out the NFL, CBS, and the FCC for the obvious double standard.
Women of color’s bodies are particularly always under a microscope. Their bodies are often sexualized from a young age, and girls are taught that their bodies are shameful. They are often demonized just for existing.
A wonderful article by Jonita Davis goes more into depth about how young Black girls are always guilty. You should read “A Study Found Adults See Black Girls as ‘Less Innocent,’ Shocking Everyone Black Moms.” It will break your heart and question if you have done the same thing.
So what does this all mean? It means that white male bodies are always acceptable. That women’s bodies, particularly those of color, are to be hidden, sexualized, and shamed. Women aren’t even allowed to breastfeed, which is what the nipples are for in the first place, in public without being slut shamed.
If men used half the effort they put into policing women’s bodies into literally anything else, we could have probably solved America’s hunger problem by now.
Maybe Levine didn’t remember Jackson’s performance. After all, he’s known to perform shirtless. Then again, white guys never have to think that far?
Do I want to see Levine fined? Not really. Did I want to see his nipples? Also not really. What I want is for men to get over themselves about women’s nipples and let us be.
I want Levine to see he made all the typical white guy mistakes with this performance and how it was an insult to the Black community. He supported an organization that punished a Black man for protesting police brutality against Black people.
He performed for that organization in Atlanta, a predominant spot of Black culture and history during a month that celebrates Black history.
He flaunted his ability to do whatever he wants, by traipsing around shirtless when one of the greatest singers, who is also Black, got severely punished for it.
Finally, he brushed off every concern, comment, and argument to say he’s just a musician, but totally wanted to play an ally by having artists of color come and join him. He also tried to play the good guy by donating $500,000 to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which is truly wonderful.
But actions speak louder than your pretty words, Levine. It’s disappointing you think throwing money at the problem will absolve you.
What a typical rich white guy move.