It is Super Bowl Sunday afternoon and my stomach is fluttering with nervous excitement. As I sit with my roommate huddled around a laptop streaming CBS Sports, we clap and cheer, but not for the Broncos or that other team. And as much as I like Coldplay and Bruno Mars, I cannot fully admit that I was cheering for them either.
The fire flashes, the drumline marches to the side and there she is. I watched in amazement as Beyonce, adorned in Michael Jackson-esque attire and flanked by 30 dancers, turns the football field into her stage. She struts down the field, dance-battles Bruno Mars and nearly brings me to tears singing with the rest of the trio as the crowd spells out “Believe in Love.” I think it’s safe to say Beyonce slayed. No, Mom — that’s a compliment.
After watching halftime a second and third time, I turned to social media to document my thoughts on the performance. There were many people who, like me, were blown away and trying frantically to check their bank accounts in preparation for her world tour ticket sale, which was announced in a commercial following halftime.
On the other hand, I encountered a lot of negative criticism for the entertainer. These critics were also upset by her “Formation” single and music video that she surprise-dropped a day before performing it at Super Bowl 50.
Filmed in Los Angeles, the video contains themes like Hurricane Katrina, black culture, Creole life and police-related violence. One scene in particular, in which a young African-American boy is dancing in front of a line of police dressed in riot gear, received harsh backlash. In the scene, the camera pans past a wall that reads, “Stop Shooting Us.”
Many are angry with Beyonce for aligning herself with the “Black Lives Matter” movement, saying that even her backup dancers’ costumes were a tribute to the Black Panthers. Apparently the National Sheriff’s Association turned off the game during halftime to “boycott Beyonce.”
A faithful fan of the queen herself, I was not personally offended in the least by the video or the performance. I’ve been following Bey from the Destiny’s Child days to “Dream Girls” to learning the “Single Ladies” dance to now trying to afford to see her next tour, and I can honestly admit that I only received a positive message.
I feel Beyonce used “Formation” and her Super Bowl performance as platforms to celebrate female empowerment and black culture — an appropriate move with it being Black History Month. With police and security keeping her safe everywhere she goes, clearly Beyonce is not anti-police.
However, like much of the American population including myself, she recognizes a definite problem with police brutality, particularly against African-Americans. In the video the police aren’t showing violence, but rather raising their hands to the young boy dancing, a statement I believe is far from hateful.
“I wanted people to feel proud and have love for themselves,” Beyonce said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Feb. 7.
That is what I believe this video is about: love and celebration of a culture that we normally try to avoid talking about. And I loved it. Yes, Bey, you slay.