FILE- In this April 28 2018, file photo Jay-Z and Beyonce watch Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans in Oakland, Calif. Police say they are pursuing more charges against a fan who rushed the stage during a Beyonce and Jay Z concert in Atlanta. Atlanta Police officer Lisa Bender told The Associated Press that 26-year-old Anthony Charles Thomas Maxwell ran onto the stage, approached Jay-Z and made contact with him as the concert was ending Saturday night, Aug. 25, 2-18.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Well, we made it through another Super Bowl Sunday and it was pretty much just like every other recent Super Bowl – a lot of commercials and a little controversy.
We learned some things.
John Krasinski and Chris Evans can still pull out a wicked Boston accent when
paid enough called upon, Jason Momoa is a skinny nerd trapped in a hot guy’s body, and we’re all probably going to go see “Top Gun” whether we asked for the sequel or not.
We were also reminded of some things we love to hate at the Super Bowl.
We hate the halftime show. It’s never as good as *insert better performance here* (well, nothing will ever beat Prince playing “Purple Rain” in the rain…fight me). It’s always too risqué or too canned or too much or not enough. We hate commercials that lecture us. Just entertain us and keep it movin! We hate whoever sang the national anthem because they’re a garbage singer with a garbage rendition. The complaints never change, only the targets.
But this year we – particularly conservatives – decided to also hate Jay-Z and Beyonce for sitting down for the national anthem. Last year we were angry about players kneeling, if I recall. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the outrage timelines straight.
In case you missed it, Jay-Z and Beyonce were enjoying the game in a private box. Seated next to each other they looked every bit as fabulous and ridiculous as ridiculously rich people should look. They remained seated through the national anthem as sung by Demi Lovato. Outrage ensues today.
I’d like to make a couple of points here. As an immigrant, I do find it annoying at best and offensive at worst that people who have been the direct beneficiaries of the American Dream choose to pretend they are aren’t. I understand why people are upset. However, did we expect anything better from these two?
What do we want from them? They clearly do not see things from our vantage point. They clearly feel comfortable sitting in their wealth and affluence. They clearly don’t care if we find their (non)action offensive. In fact, I imagine they get a sense of superiority from all the pearl-clutching. I, for one, am not happy to accommodate them in that.
I’m a big fan of engaging the culture, as distasteful as that may be. Jay-Z and Beyonce are huge cultural influencers. For better or for worse. Sometimes I think the best thing we can do is to resist outrage and focus on the things that can create a little more productive conversation. If they had stood, would we have accepted that? Or would we be spending all day today calling them hypocrites? At some point, we must divorce ourselves from reflexive outrage and examine what we are really asking of our celebrities.
On my part, I want them to be exactly who they are. They don’t speak for me and these types of antics make that clear. Alternatively, I’m not giving them the power to speak against me by allowing their behavior to wind me up. We cannot dismiss pop culture as “garbage” unworthy of our time and attention while simultaneously being righteously indignant about every move they make that does not fit with our world view.
I recognize it’s a careful dance. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t care. I understand there’s a fine line to be walked here, but it can be navigated. The battle is larger than just one instance at one game. And to be fair, I’m not even sure if they were even making a statement. They might just be lazy. I noticed several others around them sitting. Sometimes people just feel like they don’t need to stand for the anthem when it plays, especially if they are in privileged or crowded seating. Good? Maybe not. Evil? Probably not.
Jay-Z and his wife can do or not do what they want. It doesn’t change what we know to be right and true. It certainly shouldn’t color your experience of one of the greatest unifying days of the year in this country – Super Bowl Sunday.