It was easy to overlook amidst the ecstatic bombast of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl Halftime Show on Sunday, but, as the performance inched towards to its close, a momentary lull gave way to a subtle flourish many are interpreting as a political statement: a handful of glowing “cages,” in which sat Latino children.
The imagery contains multitudes, especially during a time in which the U.S. government’s taken to separating immigrant families at the southern border and confining them in cages. From inside one of the cages, Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, begins singing a somber version of her mother’s “Let’s Get Loud.” Behind her, a chorus of girls wearing hoodies emblazoned with the American flag raise their voices. Lopez, meanwhile, dons a Versace feathered coat that features the Puerto Rican flag on one side and the U.S. flag on the other. Soon, they’re covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.”
(You can see it below at roughly 11:35.)
In a new interview with Buzzfeed, choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo offered some insight into the moment, but refused to say it had a political motivation. “I don’t think we were trying to be heavy handed with anything,” said Tabitha. “I think we were just celebrating all that is beautiful about this country—Puerto Rico being part of this country.”
She did, however, address the props as “cages” and acknowledged how the immigrant experience was on their minds when planning the show. “Let’s remember this country was built and founded off of multicultural people,” she said. “We’re all immigrants coming from somewhere that made this country. We show each other love and respect and we will come out on top. Really that’s the message.”
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