Rabat - The controversy over Jennifer Lopez’ concert at the opening of Mawazine Festival made headlines worldwide, with many international media mocking the backlash that her performance elicited from Moroccans on social media and from the Moroccan government. But amidst this debate, many overlook the fact that the Jennifer Lopez had also stirred an outrage in the UK 2 years because of the way she was dressed.
Rabat – The controversy over Jennifer Lopez’ concert at the opening of Mawazine Festival made headlines worldwide, with many international media mocking the backlash that her performance elicited from Moroccans on social media and from the Moroccan government. But amidst this debate, many overlook the fact that the Jennifer Lopez had also stirred an outrage in the UK 2 years because of the way she was dressed.
The Puerto-Rican American pop star Jennifer Lopez is no stranger to the spotlight. J-Lo is highly regarded as the most successful Hispanic entertainer in the United States and is credited with encouraging Latinos to pursue their dreams in the entertainment business. She has enjoyed successful world tours, number one albums and films, lucrative business deals, and a even her own nonprofit organization, the Lopez Family Foundation.
J-Lo is known internationally for her famous figure and impressive dance choreographies. At forty-five years old, Lopez moves with the same agility and confidence that she did back when she began her career as an entertainer, dancing backup for New Kids On The Block and Janet Jackson.
Her trademark curves and moves are what make her the incredible performer she is today, but they are not for everyone.
With J-Lo’s long history of successes comes an equally long history of cultural offenses. The most recent of these occurred at the 15th edition of the Mawazine World Rhythms International Music Festival in Rabat, Morocco, when J-Lo opened the festival in a white studded leotard and not much more.
In very little clothing, sky-high heeled boots, and her sparkling smile, J-Lo delivered exactly what one would expect from a J-Lo show: seductive dance moves, provocative lyrics, and loads of booty shaking.
Being an Islamic society that exists under Islamic rules and expectations, the Moroccan public and government was mostly horrified by the risqué performance. The days following the performance were filled with criticisms of Lopez’s wardrobe and dance moves by various media outlets.
In addition to disgust with Lopez’s performance from the general public, more serious accusations were made by Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, ordering “an investigation into the broadcast of a Lopez concert which he describes as ‘serious delinquency’,” reports the National Post.
In short, Moroccans did not appreciate Lopez’s disregard for their cultural values and laws.
But in the same way that Moroccan’s have criticized Lopez, the rest of the world has been less than understanding with the Islamic nation’s concerns, suggesting that they should have expected J-Lo to perform exactly as she always does. One Facebook commenter wrote, “If you invite a nun to a party she will pray, a clown will blow up balloons, a comic will tell jokes and a caterer will bring food – why would people expect performers to perform out of character?”
Although Morocco has received a hefty amount of backlash for its conservative expectations and cultural practices, it is not the only nation to criticize one of J-Lo’s performances.
In 2013, J-Lo performed her then new single on Britain’s Got Talent in the UK in traditional J-Lo attire and attitude. The performance in the UK was received with extremely negative comments from the Twittersphere, patronizing her for not covering up for a broadcast performance on a “family-friendly” TV show.
One tweet read, “#BGT does #jenniferlopez realise its a family show – only thing missing was the pole – cover up your cheeks please!” and another, “#JenniferLopez put some clothes on, #BGT is a family show, what sort of role model are you being for the young girls watching?”
The UK is not an Islamic nation, yet Jennifer Lopez was criticized in a similar fashion after her performance two years ago. Muslim or not, multiple nations have proven to disagree with J-Lo’s performance style and overall persona. Regardless of the negativity, J-Lo continues to perform in her trademark style. The proud mother of two is not shedding her identity any time soon.
All in all, the large spectrum of international praise and disapproval that has been unleashed on Jennifer Lopez over her long, successful career goes to show how diverse the cultures of the modern world are. These instances of conflict raise many questions in regards to performance art and what boundaries are allowed to be crossed by those with a certain public image to maintain, such as Lopez.
Finding a way for differing cultures, ideas, and religions to coexist is something that the global community strives toward everyday, although disagreements are inevitable. A few things, however, are for sure– in order to make any progress in the movement toward peace, we must first be respectful toward one another’s beliefs and have open, honest communication to find common ground.