The Superbowl halftime show attracts upwards of 100 million viewers.
Hell of a time to unleash a defiant political song about being black in America.
A day before Beyoncé was scheduled to perform at Superbowl 50, she released “Formation”.
The video and song has been described as “unapologetically black“. Its release coming at a time of exploding racial tension. After a summer of police shootings, protests, and riots.
The video features powerful imagery:
- a flooded New Orleans
- a sinking New Orleans police car
- a child in a hoodie dancing in front of a row of police
- a wall painted with the words “Stop shooting us”
Some people condemned the video as anti-police. Beyoncé had none of it.
“Anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
And, of course, Beyoncé stole the show at the Superbowl. She entered in a Michael Jackson-esque jacket with a line of black female dancers with Afros and Black Panther-style uniforms. She transformed an event that blends sports and commerce into a radical political act. Beyoncé brought black power to the Superbowl.
It forced white America to have a conversation about race. Much like Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” line did in 2005.