Rihanna performs during Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Rihanna's Super Bowl Performance Receives 103 FCC Complaints

  /  02.24.2023

Rihanna slayed the Super Bowl, but not everyone was loving her performance.

The Federal Communications Commission, the government agency that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable, received 103 formal complaints about Fox’s Super Bowl LVII broadcast, the majority of which were about Rihanna’s halftime show.

Most of the complaints deemed the performance to be overly sexual, with some even comparing it to pornography. Others cited “inappropriate touching and dance moves” that were “offensive and completely inappropriate” for what they saw as a “family-friendly” program.

A pregnant Rihanna performed a 14-minute medley of her biggest hits at State Farm Arena in Glendale, Ariz. including “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “We Found Love,” “Work,” and “Umbrella,” but left most of the choreography to her dancers.

“The performance was very over sexualized and there were many instances where Rihanna had her background dancers doing very explicit dances,” wrote a viewer from Lone Tree, Colo. “On top of all this 4 of the songs she chose to sing were about sex. This is supposed to be a family friendly show but we look at this and wish we were given a heads up for explicit content prior so we could get our child out of the room.”

One viewer from Janesville, Calif., added, “The sexualization, genital grabbing, sniffing of her fingers, man pulling off his jacket and then girating [sic] all while singing lyrics far too inappropriate for a family sport event. I will NOT watch this again next year if this is how you are going to disrespect our nation.”

Another viewer in California compared Rihanna’s set to Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ controversial performance of “Unholy” at the Grammys. “I don’t care what someone worships but children shouldn’t be exposed to pornography and as an adult I don’t wish to see it … Where has decency gone? How about respect for others and self?”

One comment said Rihanna was “glorifying being a stripper,” while a viewer in Utah was so appalled that they turned off the TV. “This year the halftime show was so indecent I had to turn off the TV because of the pornographic content.”

The 103 complaints paled in comparison to 2004’s “wardrobe malfunction” during Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s performance, which generated 540,000 complaints and resulted in a fine for CBS.

Despite the grievances, that didn’t deter 118.7 million viewers from tuning in to Rihanna’s performance, which was the second most-watched halftime show of all time.

Rihanna will return to television next month to perform her Oscar-nominated song “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at the 95th Academy Awards on March 12.

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