Beyoncé strikes again. Everyone is talking about her new single, “Formation,” her upcoming world tour and the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The world nearly lost its mind with the Queen Bey overload. With a recent 33 percent increase in sales, Red Lobster is also happy about her mention of the seafood chain in Formation’s lyrics. There’s no doubt that this well-organized chain of events has both Beyoncé and her PR team patting themselves on the back.
Beyoncé’s music video directly addresses the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the Hurricane Katrina aftermath and her own racial identity. She proudly embraces her southern background while recognizing her Creole roots. One lyric reads, “I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.” The video features flooded, abandoned houses in New Orleans. Bey stands on top of a police car submerged in water, symbolizing a lack of help from authorities within the community. An African American boy boldly dances in front of armed policeman. She references police brutality with the graffiti written on the wall: “Stop shooting us.”
Sadly, some people couldn’t wrap their heads around all of the references. (Surprise, Beyoncé is black), and Saturday Night Live beautifully articulated this initial shock with a satirical skit. As expected, many conservatives weren’t crazy about Beyoncé’s gesture toward the Black Panther Party in the Super Bowl show. She wore a vest nearly identical to Michael Jackson’s during his 1993 Super Bowl performance, and her dancers were dressed in similar BPP attire. This is a nudge to the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s and the ongoing racial tensions between white and black Americans. Some labeled the performance government propaganda, or “unfair to little white girls,” as one news anchor expressed.
However, the post-performance response was largely positive. Beyoncé strategically used her status and recognition to present extremely relevant cultural topics. Twitter and Instagram were immediately buzzing with non-stop praise for the artist. She expected her song and show to spark controversy, which is exactly what happened. Nonetheless, her fan base and overall presence in the world trumped the negativity. The Beygency always wins.