The nation will be watching when the Super Bowl halftime show starts on Feb. 3 — and not just out of a desire to be entertained. This year's big game takes place in Atlanta, which is a predominantly black city known as a "Black Mecca" after being declared as such by Ebony Magazine in the '70s. Given that setting and the backing of the NFL, it's impossible not to think of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was seemingly blackballed in from the league after he started kneeling during the National Anthem during games as a means of peaceful protest against America's treatment of people of color. Because of these issues, a number of artists reportedly turned down the halftime show, and the 2019 Super Bowl halftime performers are in a vulnerable spot come Sunday. Here's everything you need to know about the show, before it airs.
What Time Will It Happen?
Now that the halftime show has found its line-up, the spectacle will proceed as usual in the mid-point part of the game. Per usual, the game is scheduled to last three hours, which would put the halftime performance around 8:00 p.m. ET on Feb. 3. Of course, games can be unpredictable and data from 2010-2016 compiled by The Verge indicates that most Super Bowl games last around three hours and 45 minutes, which would put the halftime show start time closer to 8:30 p.m. ET. So maybe don't run to the kitchen for any snacks from 8 p.m. on, just to be safe.
Who Is Performing?
It was unusual for this year's acts to be announced as late as they were, but Variety reported that the process took longer than usual because (you guessed it) of the artists who reportedly declined to perform. The halftime show finally got its headliners in Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi — though Scott almost didn't sign on (more on that later).
Why Was It Reportedly Hard To Book Artists?
For one, Kaepernick has been very clear about his motivation from Day One. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said at the time, according to The Independent. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way." Since 2016, when he began his protest, Kaepernick hasn't been able to find a football team that would take him on. So it makes sense that when it came time for find performers for the Super Bowl halftime show, many artists reportedly declined out of solidarity with Kaepernick.
Who Turned The Show Down?
According to Us Weekly, Rihanna reportedly declined the NFL's offer back in October; Cardi B told TMZ that she wouldn't consider performing until an NFL team re-hired Kaepernick; JAY-Z also reportedly turned down the 2018 halftime show in support of Kaepernick, per NME. And in December, Variety reported that JAY-Z went as far as attempting to convince 2019 performer Travis Scott not to take the gig.
Have The 2019 Performers Responded To The Controversy?
Scott decided to stay the course, but he asked that the NFL make a $500,000 donation to the social justice group Dream Corps, according to Billboard. "I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in," Scott said in a statement, per Billboard. "I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation."
Big Boi was added to the lineup very recently, and hasn't weighed in on the topic at this time.
On Maroon 5's end, there is an halftime show petition that originally called for Maroon 5 to drop out of the show. Since its creation, it has been amended to ask that the performers kneel like Kaepernick during the halftime performance as a show of support. The petition has over 100,000 signatures as of publication.
Naturally, lots of viewers will be waiting to see how the band handles this voracious request — or if they ignore it altogether.
Aside from the controversy surrounding the halftime show, there is a bit of happier news — potentially. Rumors that Scott will use his halftime show stage to publicly propose to girlfriend Kylie Jenner abound. While nothing is confirmed (naturally), the move would be one fit for a member of the Kardashian crew, for sure.