Beyonce during Super Bowl 50, at Levi’s Stadium. (Matthew Emmons / USA Today)
A controversial issue in the media right now is that of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Sunday performance this past weekend. The superstar performed her brand new song “Formation,” which references the “Black Lives Matter” campaign as well as gives a tribute to the Black Panthers with similar looking costumes. She received major backlash from many media outlets, a major one being FOX News, in these past couple of days. One of the most noted adverse reactions was from former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani criticized Beyoncé for calling out the very cops who protect her everyday. He said because she is someone of such stature and fame, she is heavily reliant on outside forces such as the police to keep her safe and therefore should not be turning her back on them. The “Black Lives Matter” campaign rides heavily on the issues of police brutality and the shooting of harmless African American people just because of the color of their skin. Much of their crusade is to defeat racist ideals within law enforcement and politics. I commend Beyoncé for using her immense power across the nation to highlight a real world issue of today. She will not be the one to stand back, she feels the need to advocate for what is right because of the immense fame and platform that she possesses. “The media often disregards women as leaders and are more likely to portray them as individuals rather than groups, victims instead of heroines, and sexual figures as opposed to thinkers” (Wilson, Gutierrez, Chao, pg. 145). After her performance, Beyoncé was seen as an individual standing out for a certain cause, while she is not the only one speaking on this matter. What made her performance so controversial was that she is not usually one of such fame to take major stands on controversial issues. Because she is such a megastar, someone that virtually people of all cultures like and listen to, her stance on the topic made her different to other superstars. Also, because of Beyoncé’s immense beauty and physique, she is not often seen as a political activist and thinker of today, she is seen as a hyper sexualized woman, not capable of any real and deep thought. Society thinks that someone with that mount of beauty cannot be capable of critical thought and activism.
While many did not feel it was her place to advocate her stance on such a controversial matter, I think that her usage of the Super Bowl halftime show stage was an ideal place for her message to be seen across not only the nation, but all around the world. With more than one million viewers, Beyoncé’s timing was perfect. As she released the very powerful music video the day before the Super Bowl it set the stage for what she would be doing next. The timing of her performance and videos were remarkable, because she had surprise released the music video the day before it was something that was already influencing the media heavily.
Although she is using her extremely powerful image and persona to stand up for a good cause, many people are not happy with they way things went about. The performance was viewed to more than one million people in the world, and many do not agree that what she did was all right. One woman who is married to a police officer posted on Facebook that she felt that Beyoncé’s call to action was unnecessary and that she was offended by her actions of calling the police force out on such a large scale. There has even been a hashtag going around the Internet calling for a Beyoncé boycott. But I think the real problems of their argument are that Beyoncé is not calling out the policemen in a militant way. She is stating that they are held to a higher standard of protecting people and the peace. She is pointing out that there is corruption that needs to be fixed within the problem. All Beyoncé is doing is asking the police force to do their job of protecting people. Just because she is telling them to do their job does not mean that she hates all police force and wants them gone forever, it means that she wants them to do their job just as she does on a daily basis. But where people do not understand is that she is not attacking the police force. They are making her out to be a violent extremist ready for war. But that is simply not the case, the Black Panthers, which she paid homage to were not bellicose either. The Black Panthers were there to protect their own selves from the harm of others. I believe the real reason that many media outlets portray Beyoncé and the Black Panthers in this derogatory way is just simply because they feel threatened by a force unknown to them. By militarizing both the Black Panthers and Beyoncé in the media, certain media outlets like FOX news are trying to cast a certain negative light on the two. Mayor Rudy Giuliani said “I think it was outrageous … The halftime show I thought was ridiculous anyway. I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible.” But while Giuliani claimed to not know what was happening during the performance, why is he alleging that she was trying to tell cops to stop shooting blacks. If he could not understand the performance, how does he know that that is what Beyoncé was expressing through her production.
Kerr-Dineen, Luke. “Fox News Slams Beyoncé’s ‘outrageous’ Super Bowl Performance.” For The Win Culture. USA Today, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
Wilson, C. C., Gutiérrez, F., & Chao, L. M. (2013). Racism, sexism, and the media: Multicultural issues into the new communications age (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.