During Sunday’s Super Bowl festivities, the world prepared for what was sure to be an epic halftime show. Picture this: not one, but three powerhouse acts performing on the same stage, two of whom having already performed in years prior.
In weeks leading up to the game, news began to leak of a possible Beyoncé and Bruno Mars collaboration with Coldplay headlining. When Beyoncé dropped a new single and music video the day before the show, the public took that as a clear confirmation of her return to the halftime stage.
The show started with a psychedelic performance of Coldplay’s most notable songs. It was great, it was colorful but it was unimportant. Cue the main event: Beyoncé. Her and her girl army appeared on the side of the field to perform her latest hit, “Formation.”
Here is where things get sticky. Beyoncé’s music video for the song is in some ways an anthem of black empowerment — there is no denying it. Her video depicts a wall with “stop shooting us”
written on it, a young African- American boy wearing a black hoodie dancing in front of a line of police officers and, most notably, Beyoncé drowning in Hurricane Katrina flood waters on top of a New Orleans Police Department cruiser. There is a lot said without being said in her video, and the same thing goes for her halftime performance.
Let’s break it down. The dancers wore black leather costumes with black barrettes — a clear nod to the Black Panther civil rights movement (scandalous). Beyoncé donned two metal straps across her costume as an ode to the late Michael Jackson, who wore straps during his halftime performance.
During Jackson’s performance, he too made a political statement by displaying flags on the field with a white and black hands holding each other. So far, not enough about this performance seems like enough to anger people. Let’s continue with the song. “Formation” is basically a rally anthem with lyrics like “OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation / Prove to me you got some coordination.” Right? Well, not quite. The song also includes lyrics about keeping hot sauce in your bag and wearing Givenchy dresses. I’d say the lyrics and the song should both be taken with a grain of salt.
That doesn’t leave much for fans to be angry about, which probably only angered fans even more. The truth is people on the Internet get angry over almost everything. When Beyoncé released a video celebrating her black culture with two seconds of footage expressing to the police to stop killing people, the Internet lost its mind.
No, I cannot say Beyoncé is anti-police. She has an entire team of police officers who protect her all the time, so the idea that she hates them seems almost ludicrous. However, I can say Beyoncé is echoing a dialogue that has been going on for a long time in this country. Choosing to bring that discussion to the most watched show on television is a big deal. You can choose to call Beyoncé petty or progressive for what she did, but the truth is people are talking. Regardless of her intentions, a conversation about the racial divide and police brutality is being held. I call that a success in itself.