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The Overdue Halftime Show / Pride & Infrastructure

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events on the American calendar every year, and this year’s version, which took place in Los Angeles on Sunday, saw more viewers than ever before (117 million). People watch for different reasons. Some watch for the football, others come for the comedic, expensive commercials, and others come just for the halftime show. This year’s halftime show featured Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, and Eminem; some of the biggest stars of rap, hip-hop, and R&B over the last three decades. What made this concert special was not just the elaborate performances, dancers, and modular stages, but the fact that this year’s Super Bowl was the first time that hip-hop was the dominant and only genre on the stage. In previous years, hip-hop artists had been featured as special guests, but never before have they been headliners. Classic rock acts like Paul McCartney, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen have long been the go-to artists for halftime shows. The safe picks, if you will. But the show, which is the most-watched concert in America every single year, has finally caught up to society at large, where hip-hop has been the dominant form of pop music for well over a decade.

Because of hip-hop’s origins, there is still a tendency to think of its most heralded artists as outsiders. But the fact of the matter is that they have become business moguls. Dr Dre, who rose to fame as a member of the much-maligned NWA, is estimated to be worth well over half a billion USD (his headphone company, Beats by Dre, is estimated to be worth over 3 billion). Snoop Dogg, who has been the brunt of many jokes about his penchant for marijuana, is worth over 150 million due in part to his ventures in the now-legal cannabis industry. Eminem, who famously grew up in trailer parks, is now worth over 230 million. These artists have long been some of the most influential and successful artists in the world; it’s about time that they had their spot on the world’s biggest stage in music.

Pride & Infrastructure

The secret has been out for years: hosting the Olympics can be disastrous economically. That is because the International Olympic Committee (the IOC) requires countries to submit bids to invest so much money into the event, and cities and countries are left paying the bills for decades after. One famous case is 2004 host Greece, which built a new airport, stadiums, subway systems, and a tram service for the Games. While the subway and tram services still see extensive use, many stadiums are literally falling apart, as the country has had neither the need nor the finances to maintain them. Greece is not the only example, which has made hosting the Olympics far less appealing to most cities and countries.

Why, then, has China been so gung-ho about hosting the Games? Mainly because they see the games as an opportunity to invest heavily in infrastructure. If China is to build railways, highways, and stadiums, they are employing millions of their citizens to do so. Moreover, they are forever reducing transportation costs throughout their regions, paving the way for more development later on. This calculus is completely different from most host cities, which see infrastructure spending as a necessary evil. But China has been relying on its public works programmes to employ its citizenry for decades; the Olympics is only part of a long-term trend, one that brings its people together and instils more national pride. For a country like China, national pride can be invaluable.