Rihanna's Super Bowl show clocks more FCC complaints than Sam Smith's 'Satanic Mass' at the Grammys
(The Hill) — Rihanna’s halftime show at Super Bowl LVII elicited more complaints from TV viewers than Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s controversial performance at the Grammy Awards.
The “Diamonds” singer’s halftime spectacle at State Farm Stadium in Arizona earlier this month drew 102 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to records obtained by The Hill as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.
Rihanna performed a medley of some of her biggest hits, with the 35-year-old star later revealing through a publicist that she took to the Super Bowl stage while pregnant with her second child.
“Inappropriate touching and dance moves, very raunchy for a family to watch,” one Illinois viewer wrote. “Little kids do not need to see this.”
Another complaint blasted the “sexualization” and “genital grabbing,” calling them “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,” the viewer said.
“Perpetual air humping and glorifying being a stripper isn’t child friendly for the Super Bowl,” another person lamented of the Fox broadcast. A handful of the complaints included racist and sexist attacks on Rihanna, who was born Robyn Fenty.
The Barbados native is also poised to appear next month at the Academy Awards, singing the Oscar-nominated song “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
A Plainwell, Michigan, viewer incorrectly named Shakira as the halftime show performer before ripping the songstress, “She is pregnant and was pumping her pelvis while holding her crotch.”
“I truly hope the NFL will rise above the current culture’s disastrous vision for the future and take a stand for more virtuous and family-friendly productions. And, if they don’t, the FCC will do something about it,” a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, viewer wrote. “Our young people get bombarded on all fronts with all kinds of negativity and vulgarity; they don’t need it from America’s most beloved sport as well.”
The number of FCC complaints against Rihanna is minuscule compared to one of the Super Bowl’s most infamous and controversy-igniting moments. More than 540,000 complaints poured into the FCC in 2004 when Janet Jackson suffered a wardrobe malfunction, leaving her breast exposed during her Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake.
Last year’s Super Bowl halftime show, which featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and other hip-hop stars, drew 33 complaints to the FCC.
While this year’s Super Bowl-related complaints topped 100, the Grammy Awards earlier this month also drew plenty of protests, with virtually all of its 87 FCC complaints focused on Smith and Petras’s “satanic” performance of their hit song, “Unholy.” Smith sported a red top hat with horns as Petras belted out the tune from inside a cage, as dancers grasped whips and fire erupted from the stage.
“I am filing this complaint because of the vile, despicable, and downright disgusting performance,” one Hartwell, Ga., viewer wrote.
Smith and Petras’s duet was “wrought with evil imagery, and depicted DEVIL WORSHIPING ACOLYTES writhing around on the floor virtually naked, and in CAGES,” the viewer said, calling it “borderline pornographic.”
“This was not an award show at all,” a Maryland viewer wrote to the FCC of the CBS broadcast. “More like a Satanic Mass.”
“The devil worship presentation is totally unacceptable,” a Fort Dodge, Iowa, viewer said.
Although Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance drew more complaints than the Grammys, the audience size for football’s biggest night is vastly greater than the annual music awards show. Rihanna’s act reportedly drew more than 118 million viewers, while about 12.5 million people tuned in for the Grammys.