Like millions of families across the country, we tuned in to the Superbowl last night. We wanted to see the commercials and Beyonce and cheer on Bernard Pollard, one of our hometown high school football heroes who just won a Superbowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens. So my parents, my daughter and I grabbed some junk food and plopped down on the couch for a little of America’s favorite past time. Unfortunately, I spent as much time covering my five-year-old’s eyes from overly sexualized images as I did actually cheering on the teams.
Listen, I don’t want to be that mom scandalized by Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. I don’t want to be the parent who is perfectly okay with their children watching a violent sport but freaks out over the cheerleaders’ skimpy uniforms. I don’t want to be that person… yet there I was, literally holding a hand over my little girl’s face.
First, it was the Go Daddy commercials. They’re made to be raunchy. They’re supposed to push things too far. Still, when I have to watch close-ups or a supermodel making out with some poor nerdy kid, I couldn’t help but try to distract my daughter’s attention. Sure, she’s seen people kissing before, but the camera angle and soundtrack was made to make people uncomfortable. These weren’t the only over-the-top commercials, but they were the most memorably bad ones.
Then came the performance from Beyonce. Of course she was wonderful. The pyrotechnics, the reuniting of Destiny’s Child, it all came together to make a great show. And the lady who seems to rule the world lately did an amazing job. But let’s not act like the dancing and innuendo were exactly PG. Superbowl halftime shows are notoriously boring because they need to be family-friendly. Bey certainly didn’t seem to let that whole “family-friendly” nonsense tame her performance. Beyonce licked her finger and dragged it into her cleavage. There I was covering my kid’s eyes again.
My final session of, “Please don’t let my daughter see or comprehend this,” came when the funny ladies from Two Broke Girls started swinging around stripper poles. At that point, it was just time to put the little one to bed.
I’m not chronicling all of my cringe-worthy moments to suggest that we should censor these commercials or performances. I’m not saying that because I don’t want my daughter to see that much, “Sex! Sex! Sex!” all over the place, no one else should get to see it. I don’t think that everyone else should have to bow to my daughter or my guidelines on what is appropriate for her to view.
I’m just saying that this is the first year I realized exactly how sexualized the big game has become. Up until now, I was never trying to watch the show with my kid, so I never paid much attention. Suddenly, I feel like we’re going to have to sit the Superbowl out for the next couple of years, until she’s old enough that I can explain a few things to her. You can only cover a child’s eyes so many times during a single evening.
I’ve always been a football fan. Watching Sunday games is a family tradition in our house. But it is amazing how differently I see this past time now that I have a child of my own. And the ever present, “Sex Sells” advertising that dominates the game? Well, it’s just not appropriate for a young child. I’m not saying that the NFL or its advertisers and performers should change. I’m just saying that as a mom, I’m not sure we can tune in to the current fare.