‘Twerking Should Rank Up There With the F Bomb’: The Rihanna Super Bowl FCC Complaints Are Here

Video superbowl rihanna

Gather ‘round everyone! It’s that special time of year once again: The FCC complaints over the Super Bowl Halftime Show have arrived!

Rolling Stone obtained the complaints to the proverbial television manager via a Freedom of Information Act request, and you better believe people were mad about Rihanna’s performance. In total, the FOIA request returned 103 pages of complaints, and almost all of them were about Rihanna — her gyrating, her crotch-grabbing, her finger-sniffing, and crude lyrics. (There were a couple of exceptions, like the person who complained about broadcaster Terry Bradshaw “fat shaming” Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid by “calling him ‘Big Guy’ three times, then saying ‘waddle over here.’”)

As is almost always the case, the vast majority of the complaints about Rihanna’s performance had that indignant, won’t-somebody-please-think-of-the-children air, insisting that the Super Bowl is a “family-friendly” program and that the National Football League and its broadcast partners should be ashamed for showing such filth — as if football itself isn’t built around brain- and life-destroying violence. As if one month before Rihanna touched her own butt or whatever, one player didn’t nearly die on national television after going into cardiac arrest following an on-field hit.

But we digress. Below is a carefully curated selection of some of our favorite FCC complaints about Rihanna (or, as at least two people referred to her, “Rhiannon”). Some of these comments have been edited for length; absolutely none have been edited for spelling, punctuation, or clarity.


“The sexualization, genital grabbing, sniffing of her fingers, man pulling off his jacket and then girating all while singing lyrics far too inappropriate for a family sport event. I will NOT watch this again next year if this is how you are going to disrespect our nation.”

“Rhianna, The gyrating and rear end and crotch grabbing is too far for broadcast TV. It seems like almost every year performers want to do some version of this in their dancing. Please put an end to this.”

“On top of all this 4 of the songs she chose to sing were about sex. This is supposed to be a family friendly show…”

“Perpetual air humping and glorifying being a stripper isn’t child friendly for the Super Bowl.”

“Very disappointed that you would allow this to be shown a this big stage. America is better than this.”

“She spread her ass cheek at the crack. She rubbed her pants where her labia were three times.”

“I was shocked by the halftime show by Shakira. She is pregnant and was pumping her pelvis while holding her crotch and another time she and her backup dancers were holding their hands up the cracks of their butts and pumping … I would have rather Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction which was an accident to this crap.”

  Cheers (Drink to That)

“Can we please have a half time show where the artist doesn’t grab their crotch or try to dry hump the lead singer. I really don’t want to see 30 back up dancers doing pelvic thrusts. Ew. Also, twerking should rank up there with the F bomb.”

“I only tuned in for that piece because my wife wanted to see what the half-time show was like (I DVR’d the game). And I did not watch any more. That was more than enough for me in just the 20 seconds I watched it… I truly hope the NFL will rise above the current culture’s disastrous vision for the future and take a stand for more virtuous and family-friendly productions. And, if they don’t, the FCC will do something about it. Our young people get bombarded on all fronts with all kinds of negativity and vulgarity; they don’t need it from America’s most beloved sport as well.”

“In 1972 Woody Allen directed a film, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask). Around 1975 or so this comedy sex film was shown at the drive-in, then located in Russell Co., KY. I never forgot it, specially the white uniforms worn by the sperm characters. Rihanna’s halftime show took me by surprise, to say the least… however, the obvious Woody Allen factor was NOT lost on me.”

“If I were to go to a place where children were present and did these same motions, I would probably be arrested.”

“Halftime performance https://genius.com/Rihanna-super-bowl-lvii-halftime-show-lyrics”

“Why am I having to explain to my KIDS why Rihanna is rubbing her crouch and smelling her hand afterwards during a Super Bowl halftime show?”

“For the most part it was a laid back pretty ok halftime show and i do not listen to ree ree BUT my 15 year okd daughter does and i was sitting there with her enjoying the show as many of her many fans and families of all ages were as well and literally she grabbed her vagina and smelled her fingers and made a face gesture to someone. I am not sure why this has not been mentioned except for a couple memes and larry elder pointed this out as well.”

“If a 100 people gyrating and grabbing their butts and crotches on live TV at the NFL Superbowl (Fox) halftime show is not indecent, then I don’t know what it.”

  What is Rihanna's real name?

“Scratching your crotch and anus and the sniffing your fingers makes me puke. The devil sequence was blatantly anti Christian and so inappropriate.”

“I am not a prude or a karen but this to me is up there, if not past what janet and justin did!!! Is it because she said she was pregnant now? … And fyi- i do live in pa but i do NOT have a favorite team i was simply watching the game to enjoy time with my family.”

“The show should have had an R/X rating and was NOT appropriate for children. How awful that we have gotten to the point where grabbing your genitals and imitating masturbation is run during prime time. The group I was with were completely offended.”

“Have you no morals or decency ? Same with the Grammys every year. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“The pornographic display by Rihanna and company at the Super Bowl and the pornography devil worship at the Grammy’s. I don’t care what someone worships but children shouldn’t be exposed to pornography and as an adult I don’t wish to see it.”

“Very close to pornography. Not just the star gyrating, … These comments can also be applied to Sam Smith’s Satanic Ritual performance as well as others on The Grammy Awards show one week ago.”

“There is no credible artistic expression associated with performer Rihanna’s simulated genitalia swipe and then smelling her hand during her halftime show at Superbowl 57… The lewd act appealed only to prurient interests.”

“I do not want to see a woman groping herself (more than once) and then licking her fingers. I do not want to see men (or women) simulating the sexual act (especially thrusting at a female). It was disgusting and terrible for any families to have to be subjected to without warning.”

“Super Bowl is for all people including children!!!! She needs to be fined as well as whoever approved that vulgar show!!!!!!”

“I would like a response on how your agency will protect me in my family from seeing such a vulgar things on broadcast television again.”

“That was disgusting and my 7 year old will never unsee a grownup performer repeatedly grabbing her crotch and behind. Shame on the nfl.”

“Rihanna proceeded to mimic acts of maturation, followed by an exaggerated act of sniffing her fingers. This is inappropriate for a live nationally televised sporting broadcast.”

“I presume that even YOU are totally aware of the INdecency that was yet AGAIN foisted upon the families who trusted you to once AGAIN protect us from the prevalent INDECENCY that inexplicably and GRATUITOUSLY finds its way into the Superbowl halftime ‘show… ‘ As it’s almost impossible to accidentally make this same ‘mistake,’ EVERY single year as you appear to Enjoy doing, I am simply assuming that the demeaning of human dignity that you continue to “allow” is intentional and needs to be addressed in court. Therefore, on behalf of ALL the innocent children and their now-mortified mothers, if not parents as a whole, I will be seeking a public apology and reparations in court and am simply writing to inform you of this intent.”

  Super Bowl 2023 halftime show prop bets: Rihanna’s first song, outfit color and guest appearances

“Pornography on the most watched “Family Friendly” show of the year. This makes Janet Jackson’s nipple slip look schoolmarmish.”

“It’s not provocative nor artistic. It’s all been done before and leaves no profound statement other than the sorry degradation of the humans doing it. It’s insulting and demeaning to an audience to see strip club dancing.”

“We did not need to see a pregnant lady touching her self in the groin area repeatedly during the performance.”

“The singer, Rihanna, who led the half-time performance, should never have been allowed to perform on the American People’s airwaves… This is scandalous to the thousands of families and children watching the Super Bowl. Above all, it is an affront against God’s Law.”

“The song was obscene as well as the way she and her dancer touched themselves. Each of them should have gone to the restroom before the program started instead of holding themselves.”

“Her ‘costume’ featured what appeared as painted breasts. From all angles it was made to look like bare naked breasts of the red color. Yes that color isn’t her natural skin tone, but the sexuality of the design can not be denied. … I request a full investigation be performed and when both are found guilty, they should be fined a dollar amount that exceeds the largest fine ever levied by the FCC.”

“The last four years have included indecent (un)beeped words, gestures, and outfits. The halftime shows occur in prime-time viewing hours. This year, 2023, children were exposed to a repeated crotch-rubbing then finger sniffing/licking of the hand that had rubbed the crutch if a pregnant woman. How do you explain that to children?”

“The Super Bowl is an American tradition and it’s basically another family holiday. I shouldn’t have to watch someone rub their vagina and smell it during the broadcast. What’s next?”