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Eminem Causes Controversy by Kneeling at Super Bowl Halftime Show

Eminem performs at Super Bowl LVI halftime show
Eminem performs at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show on Feb. 13, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Video Screenshot/YouTube

Rapper Eminem delivered a memorable performance during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday by taking a knee at the end of it, reportedly in a protest tribute to former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

This year’s Super Bowl halftime show is already being regarded as one of the best performances ever with performances from iconic American hip hop artists of the 2000s, including Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige.

NFL faces continued criticism over Super Bowl halftime show censorship

But the moment of Eminem kneeling, with Dre playing the piano next to him, in a tribute to Tupac Shakur, towards the end of the halftime show, had people talking as earlier reports had said the NFL had banned the rapper from kneeling.

“The league nixed a plan by Eminem to kneel, Colin Kaepernick-style,” The Puck reported on Sunday.

Eminem has not yet commented on his intentions, including whether his actions were to kneel in solidarity with Kaepernick, who began protesting against police brutality and racial violence against African Americans by kneeling during the national anthem.

Kaepernick started his kneeling protest in 2016, with other athletes joining him over the years, although he was ostracized by the league.

Other moments during the halftime show were also reportedly changed to remove references to police violence against African Americans.

During Kendrick Lamar’s performance, lyrics in “Alright” referencing police brutality—”We had po-po/Wanna kill us dead in the street for sure”—were omitted during the performance.

The NFL reportedly asked Dr. Dre to remove the lyric “still not loving police” from “Still D.R.E,” the final performed in the show.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy suggested the NFL was aware that Eminem was going to kneel because he had made the gesture during rehearsals, The New York Times reported.

The visible action taken by Eminem caused viewers flock to Twitter to share their reactions, with some sharing support for the rapper.

Some emphasized that Eminem’s intentions need to be validated to confirm if it was in solidarity with the movement against systemic racism amidst the outpouring of support for him online and elsewhere.

When Beyonce performed in the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, with dancers dressed in tribute to the Black Panthers, conservatives were furious at her for politicizing her performance.

The NFL has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Kaepernick, despite other players kneeling during the national anthem, including statements that disciplined athletes for shows of public protest.

The Super Bowl halftime show, which took place in the Los Angeles area for the first time in 30 years, was a showdown between the LA Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

The LA Rams would go on to defeat Cincinnati 23-20.

Watch the full 2022 Super Bowl halftime show here.

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