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The Schmooze

Rihanna Turned Down Super Bowl Halftime In Solidarity With Kaepernick

Maroon 5 must have been so high on the pride of being asked to perform the Super Bowl LIII halftime show, they didn’t recognize the fire burning in the eyes of pop superstar Rihanna.

Girls like her don’t run ‘round with guys like Adam Levine and co. If it means supporting an institution that sidelines free speech in favor of cash and free-flowing racism. ‘Cause you can drive for miles and miles, and you can spend every day on Rihanna’s corner in the pouring rain, but you can’t get her to compromise her values. We love our Adam and his band, but in the mensch department they just got owned.

Us Weekly reported on Thursday night that the NFL and CBS, the network that airs the Super Bowl, were desperate to have Rihanna as their halftime star, but that the singer turned down the offer because of the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Searching for a second-stringer, the football league and CBS landed on Maroon 5, who happily accepted.

Who can blame them for agreeing to perform, arguably, the most iconic musical moment of the year? Who can say they would have been able to turn it down? Well, Rihanna can.

For the blissfully uninitiated: Kaepernick is the football quarterback whose choice, beginning in 2016, to sit or kneel during the playing of the national anthem at football games ignited a national controversy. Though Kaepernick explained that his choice was a peaceful protest intended to call attention to racism and police shootings of black Americans, he was faced with vitriolic backlash, including from President Trump. Kaepernick, who said of his choice, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” has not been signed to a football team since the 2016 season.

It sort of makes you reconsider the idea that politics and pop culture must be at loggerheads — mainstream cultural drama is frequently at the heart of political movements. And even when that’s not the case, look at Colin Kaepernick, and look at Rihanna. They don’t make for bad heroes.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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