Will the Real Star of the Super Bowl Please Stand Up?

There was a distinctly weird moment during Sunday’s Super Bowl, and I’m not talking about Ahmad Bradshaw falling backward into the end-zone for that touchdown that Bill Belichick wanted the Giants to make.

No, it was the only other part of the three-hour spectacle that I actually watched: the half-time show. I live 364 days of the year in a football-free zone and confess that I didn’t know Madonna would be performing. But, as half-time approached, the friends and family I watched the game with began to buzz. There was genuine — albeit condescending — concern about whether the 50-something material girl still had it.

As if.

Who didn’t thrill to see our lady of the golden tresses, former wearer of black rubber bracelets and oversized hair bow, ride in on that Trojan parade? The gold-plated skirt, the regal Egyptian headdress, the thigh-high black boots. Granted, I don’t get out much, but I couldn’t help but be mesmerized.

Being of a certain age myself, I grew up with Madonna, from her first writhing-on-the-floor MTV video to her late-in-life acquisition of the faux British accent. As a teenager, “Lucky Star” blared from the boom box in my garage as I practiced a routine for my high school drill team. I snipped collars and sleeves from sweatshirts, wore fingerless lace gloves and chunky rhinestone necklaces for a brief, breathless time. For many teenage girls in the 1980s, Madonna’s blend of power, sexuality, and outrageous fashion was a tonic.

Which is why on Sunday night, the other forty-something moms and I, having barely watched any of the Super Bowl itself, gravitated to the widescreen TV for the half-time show and stood there transfixed. It wasn’t the usual sex-pot fare — some 20-something pop star showing off in hot pants. And it wasn’t — bless his heart, but please — Paul McCartney. It was Madonna, and she brought it as only she can.

Everyone in the room went a little slack-jawed. Here was this 53-year-old woman we’d all mocked — dancing among bare-chested gladiators and sprinting past cheerleaders half her age and then getting down in those deep, soulful knee bends. Who else, I ask you, can make a long, black choir robe look sexy?

She wasn’t us exactly. As we nursed our Amstel Lights and nagged our kids to keep their shoes off the couch, she wasn’t us by a long shot. But there will always be something of Madonna’s story that is part of our own, and seeing her on stage still singing (OK, lip-synching) and dancing (so she slipped that one time!) after all these years was weirdly uplifting. For one thing, it more than made up for the sad turn of events that recently befell Demi Moore. Our other 50-something celebrity mom’s split from Ashton Kutcher and subsequent whip-its fiasco wrecked the fairytale ending of marriage to a man more than 15 years her junior, a diet of only raw food, and the lead role in a Charlie’s Angels movie after multiple childbirths. Though we wanted to believe in all that Demi’s story promised, in the end, it’s Madonna who gives us hope.

None of us could take our eyes off her, and it wasn’t even in an ogling, beer-commercial kind of way. It was more — am I overstating it here? — in utter awe of her celebrity prowess, of her élan, of her superhuman ability to recreate herself time and again. For a moment I thought we women might be so moved as to turn off the TV, put on some music, and dance the night away. But there was another half of a football game to watch. And so we took Madonna’s disappearing through the stage floor in a puff of white smoke and the ensuing plea for World Peace as our cue to putter around the dining room table and tidy up the kitchen.

Over the next hour or so, Tom Brady would fail to lead his once-great team to victory, and a slew of new commercials would play out across television screens all over America. To us, none of it mattered. The real show was over the minute Madonna left the stage.

  • gary

    Really?! Really? Madonna looked like a 53 year old woman who didn’t belong in thigh high spikes, had no business moving around the stage and seemed to be on the verge of osteoarthritis. I thought she looked like a bit of cow trying to keep up with the calves. Sorry but the old girl is buzzworthy but kind of tired.

  • http://www.adesignsovast.com Lindsey

    I thought she was phenomenal! Love your description and I absolutely agree. xo

  • Katherine

    Thanks, Lindsey. And, sorry Gary, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one!

    • Tracy

      Gary, darling, perhaps you’re forgetting Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry from a few years ago, neither one of whom could even walk around the stage, let alone get it on with CeeLo Green. Or Tom Petty, who spent his 20 minutes of Super Bowl fame hiding behind a beard as long as Santa Claus’s. Madonna is 20 years younger than those guys and 2 zillion times more energetic, and she, unlike the guys, was smart enough to pull some youngsters up on stage with her (or didn’t you recognize Niki Minaj?) If we’re going to play by your “no business” rule, let’s apply it equally to the boys and girls, k? <3

      • http://www.babysquaredblog.com Jane

        I could not agree more, Tracy. Age doesn’t matter a whit when you can rock it like Madonna. I thought she looked awesome.

  • Serena

    Madonna was sensational. She looked stunning! I’m only 17 and wasn’t even born when she first came onto the scene but after watching her at the halftime show I now am a Madonna fan and am soooo excited to see her on tour! LUV Madonna

    • Katherine

      For me it wasn’t even about the physical prowess (osteoarthritis? please!). It was more about the spirit with which she took the stage, which Tracy documents so perfectly. This is one 50-something woman who will not go quietly into the night, and boy am I glad!

  • Michael

    Huh? Really? I must have been watching a different Super Bowl Half Time Show. It all just seemed overblown. I will say that the Mash-up with LMFAO’s song was clever.

    And Tracy, I absolutely did NOT forget Townsend & Daltrey. they were abysmal as well.

    You may disagree with me, but the one contemporary of these folks who “brought it” was Bruce Springsteen. He made the half time show seem like a ihgt at a sweaty bar listening to a great band cranking out the hits.

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