We almost got through an entire season of NFL football without culturally relitigating the cultural legacy of one Colin Kaepernick. Almost.
When Redskins quarterback Alex Smith went down with a gruesome leg injury on Nov. 19, it didn’t take long for certain people in the media to demand Kaepernick get a chance in Washington despite the fact he’s been out of the game for a year and change and hasn’t exactly acquitted himself well when he’s been brought in by other franchises.
That seems to have died down now, but it could be just kindling for a bigger fire involving this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
As any football fan knows, the Super Bowl halftime show is always an assemblage of pop stars that were really famous five years ago but were famous enough that even your mom — your dear, sweet mom, who can’t figure out how to work “the iTelephone you got me last Christmas” and keeps threatening to go back to one of those Nokia models with the squishy buttons — vaguely knows who they are.
In other words, you have to find a bunch of artists who aren’t exactly on their way up but who climbed far enough that everyone could see them from the peak. This is seldom deviated from, and when it is things usually don’t go well (see also: M.I.A., Justin Timberlake’s first wardrobe malfunction-tastic appearance).
This year, the powers that be had originally wanted Rihanna to take center stage at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta. They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance,” a source close to the matter told Us Weekly. The unnamed source also said the refusal had to do with the fact she “supports Colin Kaepernick.”
The next choice was Maroon 5, who accepted. This seemed reasonable enough. After all, you can’t get much more middle-of-the-road than Adam Levine’s merry septet of mediocrity. And your mom definitely knows who they are; they make the kind of rock that can double as elevator music in a pinch, so she’s no doubt heard them at the mall or doctor’s office or wherever bland music is called for. She may not know their name, but a minute into their performance she’ll say, “Hey, these are those guys who did that ‘moves like Jagger’ song! What’s that called again?”
But getting Maroon 5 is just half the battle. After all, if there’s one inexorable law of Super Bowl halftime shows aside from mandated blandness, it’s that plenty of other famous stars — usually of a more recent provenance — should join the main performer in delivering a different flavor of audio pablum to everyone watching.
Maroon 5 approached Cardi B, who’s usually not boring and usually for all the wrong reasons. However, the rapper did cut a song with Maroon 5, “Girls Like You,” off of their new album. (Spoiler alert: also bland.) However, while the U.K.’s NME states that she’s “been going back and forth” over whether to appear at the halftime show, a source said “as of today she’s not.”
And there’s a good reason: Even Maroon 5 has received criticism from the industry and the music press, not to mention the left, for not standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
More than 70,000 others and I signed the petition asking Maroon 5 to do what @rihanna, Jay-Z and @amyschumer did, which is to not work with the NFL until they sign Colin Kaepernick. This means don’t perform during the Super Bowl halftime show.
— VIC OYEDEJI (@VicOyedeji) December 11, 2018
Vic says, “Hey @iamcardib: We know you support Kaepernick. Please say you won’t perform at the halftime show with Maroon 5 until the NFL does right by Kaepernick and all players who #TakeAKnee.” pic.twitter.com/KekwAVLWKj
— Change.org (@Change) December 10, 2018
Many people have signed for Maroon 5 not to play at the Superbowl half time show. Colin Kaepernick, former player for the 49ers, was kicked off the team for putting a knee down during the National Anthem to protest against social injustice & police brutality.
— Ann Gendy (@GendyAnn) December 11, 2018
As Variety reported, “more than a half-dozen stars” have turned Maroon 5 down. Andre Benjamin — better known as Andre 3000 of Atlanta-based legends Outkast — declined. Mary J. Blige said she had scheduling conflicts.
Other artists aren’t mentioned, but some presumably declined over the kneeling controversy and/or Kaepernick. While Variety has said Usher, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj remain possibilities, they went on to call the Super Bowl halftime show “music’s least wanted gig.”
So now it’s basically like the Oscars. It’s proof yet again of how the left seems to eat its own on a regular basis.
It’s also proof that politics is bad for business. With the exception of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, almost everyone being mentioned probably has their best years behind them. In the case of Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill, we’re talking way behind them; just two years ago, Blige contributed the theme song to ABC’s “The View,” a move that doesn’t exactly evince one at the top of their creative and commercial powers.
And here’s the thing — you don’t really make any difference regarding Colin Kaepernick or perceived injustice by bowing out of the Super Bowl halftime show. The kind of people who think — I believe quite reasonably — that Kaepernick’s support for communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur is rebarbative aren’t the type or are going to lose much sleep over not listening to musicians who support him or other anthem-kneelers. In fact, many would consider it preferable.
If they really wanted to make some sort of statement, it would probably have been wiser to come out with a Kaepernick jersey on. That’s a pretty easy way to support the Kaep and revitalize your career among members of #TheResistance, all with minimal effort. Apparently, nobody has the foresight to realize this.
It’s difficult to feel sorry for anyone in this situation, however. The NFL has placated anthem protesters about as much as they could and this is still the reception they get from the cultural left. (The right isn’t terribly enamored of them, either.) As for Kaepernick, perhaps someone should ask him about the multifarious times he’s self-sabotaged any comeback to the NFL in order to maintain his status as a martyr. I’m sure someone appropriately bland will take the stage with Maroon 5, even if they’re not famous enough for your mom to know them.
Maybe Kevin Hart will do it? I hear he’s free. Can he sing?
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