Formation: Controversy Blown Out of Proportion

Glenn Rohrbacker

Beyoncé stole the Super Bowl stage Sunday, Feb.7 with the performance of her new single, “Formation,” which overshadowed both Coldplay and a fresh-looking Bruno Mars. This song was released just a day before the big game, along with a provocative music video.

Beyonce during her Super Bowl 50 performance (AP photo)
Beyonce during her Super Bowl 50 performance
(AP photo)

The video, first abstractly, then more literally, preaches awareness of poverty, equality, police brutality and injustice; basically, all the ideals that the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting for are present in her video.

But it wasn’t the music video that had people talking. Beyoncé’s performance at the Super Bowl 50 half-time show had many people (mostly right-wing conservatives) arguing that she made a mistake performing “that way” in front of tens of millions of people during such a high-profile event. This is especially because they believe that this performance was an avocation against police officers. Beyoncé and her dance crew’s outfits seemed to symbolize the Black Panther movement, which was a group back during the civil rights era that campaigned for equal rights, and sometimes not so peacefully. That, combined with the message in the video and some of the song lyrics, along with the unstable state of the United States justice system today, created this controversy.

Many people have gotten onto the bandwagon, giving their opinion on the situation. Rapper and political activist Killer Mike made statements regarding that this was not a message to “white people.” He said, “White people: it’s not always about you.” He made the point that the message of Beyoncé’s song was to empower other black people to stand up for their rights and be proud of who they are. Comedian and host of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill Maher, along with several people who agreed, said that it wasn’t this obvious message that people were complaining about. The political statement that she made was more abstract to people who aren’t trained to decipher them.

Some comments from Republican radio host Rush Limbaugh and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani expressed their unhappiness with the performance, mainly on the grounds that it promotes a hatred and disrespectful attitude towards cops. This is a total overreaction because, although we are in a time when police and community relations are sensitive, Beyoncé used her influence to make the issue of black oppression and police brutality known. Obviously, not all police officers are abusive of their power, but Beyoncé was bringing to light the select few that are creating a violent and racist atmosphere in this country. Her performance took a necessary stand in a movement that is still just getting started.