Shakira’s performance turned out to be the Super Bowl’s most meme-able moment after her on-stage tongue-wagging took Twitter by storm on Sunday night. But while people continue to compare the clip from the halftime show to a classic goat meme and even some clips from SpongeBob, others have taken to social media to clarify the cultural significance behind the gesture.
The 43-year-old singer and dancer gave the performance of a lifetime, alongside fellow Latina artist Jennifer Lopez, as she famously shook her hips. Still, it was when Shakira shook her tongue into the camera during her performance that received the most attention as audiences immediately took to social media to call attention to the unexpected moment.
Apart from the animal comparisons, many others also noted an uncanny resemblance to SpongeBob SquarePants characters SpongeBob and Patrick Star calling upon the magic conch shell during an episode of the cartoon.
shakira when she stuck her tongue out pic.twitter.com/KyN7h6EjCB— David ☔️ (@davidfcknbanner) February 3, 2020
Despite the funny memes, however, others were able to answer the questions that many had asked about what exactly had taken place, and why.
Hey folks: this tongue gesture has nothing sexual or outrageous per se ('calling-attention-diva' as I already read) but a wink to our African ancestors in Colombia, specially in the Colombian caribbean folklore and Carnaval de Barranquilla (Shakira's hometown). She SLAYED! 🔥🇨🇴 pic.twitter.com/TUM4ni5gf3— Athënea Caída (@FallenMaisa) February 3, 2020
Shakira paid tribute to the afro Colombian roots, highlighting the carnaval, the mapale dance, champeta, and honoring her father who is Lebanese.— Mayreni (@mayreni27) February 3, 2020
When she put her tongue out, that is Zaghrouta ( in English Ululation). The Arab way to express happy emotions.
Educating uncultured ppl on what a zaghrouta is, it’s not some tongue flicking thing.— Bush (@Bushumaa) February 3, 2020
CC- every radio station this morning, Twitter, ppl that don’t have Arab or African friends.
That’s @shakira reppin her Arab heritage. She’s half Arab. Her name is Arab! She’s an Arab-Latina! pic.twitter.com/l78OnbeCOW
The gesture, which is called “zaghrouta,” is typically used by women in the Middle East and North Africa during times of celebration. Twitter users went on to point out that Shakira is half Lebanese from her father’s side. In fact, her name means “grateful” in Arabic.
People have since praised her for including it in her performance and inciting the cultural lesson.
shakira’s lebanese side snapped today— fati🇱🇧 (@fatijnoubeye) February 3, 2020
Chiming in because I know everyone will be making jokes about this for days — this is a popular Arab tradition, called zaghrouta, used to express joy at celebrations. In the melting pot that is Miami, you could not have picked a better Super Bowl act and this was a lovely touch. https://t.co/q1H9l8UpQ5— Lulu Ramadan (@luluramadan) February 3, 2020
Shakira being acclaimed for being herself, for doing her bellydance, for rocking, for doing that tongue thing, for being unapologetically her. I love her so much— willy | fan account (@shakiraslay) February 3, 2020
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