While almost 119 million viewers tuned into Rihanna's Super Bowl LVII halftime show, not everyone enjoyed it. TMZ obtained 103 complaints made to the Federal Communications Commission about the Super Bowl broadcast and reported that nearly all of them were about Rihanna's performance.
The complaints compared Rihanna's set to pornography with "overtly sexual dancing" and movements that "were patently offensive and completely inappropriate for children." A viewer in Utah reportedly wrote that "this year the halftime show was so indecent I had to turn off the TV because of the pornographic content" while someone in Florida wrote, "She spread her a—cheek at the crack. She rubbed her pants where her labia were three times."
Rihanna drew a lot of positive reactions as well, though. Her show was the second-most watched halftime show behind Katy Perry’s 2015 performance and Rihanna's viewership outgained the actual game by almost five million. Sports celebrities like Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, U.S. women's national team star Alex Morgan and former NFL defensive end J.J. Watt also applauded Rihanna's performance.
Rih got so many killer tracks!!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾♦️
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 13, 2023
This was Rihanna's first live performance since the 2018 Grammys and the first since she gave birth to her son this past May. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published after the show, Rihanna revealed she was actually pregnant with her second child while on stage during the halftime show. Rihanna initially turned down the opportunity in 2019 in solidarity with former San Franciso 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick but explained this year that motherhood played a role in her decision to perform.
“When you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you could take on the world — you can do anything,” Rihanna told the Hollywoo Reporter. “And the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world, so as scary as that was ... there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all. It’s important for my son to see that.”
"It’s this knowing that you can do anything,” she also told British Vogue, “even things that seem the craziest, like, ‘I’m going to say yes to the Super Bowl in the middle of postpartum?’ What the heck am I thinking? But you’re geeked on a challenge like that because you know what your body just did. You feel this sense of ‘Nothing is impossible.’”