The sexually-charged performance brought both applause and harsh criticism, with conservative commentator Candace Owens accusing the two women of “weakening” American society. Of course, Owens wasn’t alone in her opinion — the Federal Commission of Communication (FCC) received dozens of complaints regarding the event.
WFAA Dallas obtained a record of those complaints, which ranged from rage-filled to downright comedic. As one Colorado viewer wrote, it was obscene, pornographic and “as if they were dancing in a strip club” (considering there was a stripper pole in place, yes, that was presumably the point). Another viewer from Idaho wrote, “The outfits they were wearing and the movements they did were absolutely disgusting. This network should face very stiff penalties,” while a Richmond, Texas resident was aghast Megan was “barely dressed in a thong and showed naked look alike legs,” whatever that means.
That was just the beginning of the roughly 80 complaints the FCC received in the wake of their performance. An Oakland viewer likened it to Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show in 2004, writing, “This display made the Janet Jackson Super Bowl Halftime faux pas seem like children’s television! The FCC has failed at their job!”
A Frisco, Texas native brought up the recent Dr. Seuss controversy with, “The media has a problem with Dr. Seuss, yet allows Cardi B to sing about her [WAP] on national television.” But at least one viewer from San Antonio, Texas had a reasonable suggestion, saying, “It was incredibly erotic, sexual and perhaps better suited for a later time slot. Please consider.”
But the number of complaints pales in comparison to the 1,300 that flowed in following Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl LIV halftime show last year or the 540,000 that resulted from Jackson’s Super Bowl faux pas.
The FCC didn’t comment on whether there will be an investigation into the “WAP,” but if the National Center of Sexual Exploitation has anything to say about it, they’ll face some kind of consequence. The organization accused Megan, Cardi and CBS of “glamorizing prostitution and stripping” and shamed the network for allowing it to happen simply because they wanted “ratings.”
Despite the allegation, even “WAP” couldn’t save the the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. Nielsen reports the ceremony pulled in an average of 8.8 million viewers compared to 2020’s 18.7 million, a record low.