Back in 2016, the Federal Communications Commission received around 47 pages of angry complaints against Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance, which featured the pop star and her dancers marching onstage while dressed in outfits reminiscent of the Black Panthers. But that’s nothing compared to the 1,000-plus emails that the FCC was bombarded with after the night of March 14th, 2021, following Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s raunchy performance of “WAP” at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Given that “WAP” is all about embracing female sexuality to the fullest — and that both rappers and their backup crew masqueraded as strippers under a giant stiletto heel during the performance — there are some familiar patterns with the FCC complaints. “Filth,” “disgusting,” and general slut-shaming abound. Take this person from “None of Your Business, California,” who tuned into the Grammys to check if there were any “off-colored and/or political jokes” being made (sounds like a fun hobby) and got way more than they bargained for:
“I wish to file a formal complaint against the televised grammy awards 2021. Although I did not watch the entire event, I just happened to tune in just to see if the mc’s, performers, etc. are still spewing any off colored and/or political jokes and I just happened switch my channel and was stunned to see the Cardi B/Megan, etc. etc. etc. display. This is really something for women (note: This is Women in History Month) and girls to aspire to. You have got to be kidding me. This was a disgusting display of nothing more than sluts being sluts. Is this going to continue? If so, I certainly want to know who to contact to file a lawsuit against the performers, the network, and any and all persons, corporations, etc who either directly or indirectly participated in this display of pornography. If you do not do anything about this, I will need to seek legal advice regarding any action I may take against you.” [SIC]
There are also plenty of accusations of the Grammys objectifying the female body. Take this email:
“I felt violated with Meghan Stallion & Cardi B’s performance. I am pro sex-positivity abnd body positivity but this performance crossed the line into pornography. Many kids still awake at that time, and even non-consenting adults were unexpectedly staring at pure objectification of women at its finest. Not to mention Trevor Noah’s drooling, sweating, screaming wrap up like he was at a strip club. I am a massage therapist with deep respect for the human body who found myself crying myself to sleep wondering how this could be allowed on television. And how far this will go next year and the years after that. Art and objectification are opposite sides of the coin. Objectification perpetuates violence against women, maintaining the ripple effect that causes domestic violence, human trafficking, encouraging the consumption of women and then the disposal of them. I’ve watched the Grammys every year since I was 5 years old. It gave me something to strive for as a musician. As a female, I will never again view this program due to the allowance of this performance. since 1980″ [SIC]
Never mind that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion had agency over their own performance. (Also, yes, you’ll find Megan spelled as “Meghan” all over these complaints.)
Do you know what’s hypocritical, according to viewers? Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head getting “canceled,” but the Grammys being let off the hook for “WAP.” At least, that’s according to this resident of Richmond, Virginia, and many others in the FCC file:
“I have hesitated to file this complaint, but in an environment where Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss, Peter Pan, etc. are being removed from public viewing, it is hard to tolerate much less stomach the performance of Cardi B at the Grammys. It was disgusting and thought of young children possibly viewing it horrifies me.” [SIC]
This complaint from Dundee, Michigan was oddly specific:
“I would like to formally complain about the pornographic content of the 2021 Grammy’s 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards® live on Sunday, March 14 at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT on CBS & Paramount”
With the ® and everything! Love a good copy-paste. And finally, a complaint that suggests a possible rebranding for the Grammys and CBS:
“Your brief bio implies (at least to me)family values. So that said I hope you in some way will attempt to end the vulgar, deplorable trash that was presented on national TV called the Grammy’s. If you’re not able then just rename it to something more in line and appropriate to what it actually was…LivePorn.” [SIC]
There’s no real point in appeasing the “think of the children” crowd, but do these people not realize that there was no actual nudity during “WAP,” or that all the obscene lyrics in the song were censored? Cardi B did not rap “wet wet wet” repeatedly for this nonsense to still happen.
Additional reporting by Kory Grow
From Rolling Stone US