Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here Today to Get Through This Thing Called the Super Bowl Half Time Show

Super Bowl halftime shows are, of course, bland blimps of branding; processed cheese whiz for the widest possible audience, which no amount of excess, earnestness, or manufactured controversy can puncture. So I was surprised to feel a touch of sadness as I watched Prince roll out all the empty signifiers one would expect from a Pepsi commercial: the atonal call-and-response with “authentic” fans; the writhing Aussie twinbots, and the accessory du jour, the marching band. Prince was once so transgressive, so outsider, and so defiantly himself, and now here he was warbling feeble medley versions of 20-year-old songs. The only song that stood up to the ant-in-a-swimming-pool staging was “Purple Rain,” and that was only because it always was a lighters-aloft arena power ballad anyway.

The Purple One could not even shock sartorially: In his teal frock coat and orange shirt, he looked like Little Richard dressed as a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, and although I was glad to see him strap on the purple glyph guitar for “Purple Rain,” I half expected him to coax a fountain of Pepsi from it, in a nod to the fret board autoeroticism of his past live shows.

Or maybe it was just a sign of the times. Perhaps what I’m really offended by is the fact that my musical heroes are now officially irrelevant.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.