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Get (in)Formation

Here at HCX, we love Queen B, now perhaps more so than ever. She’s powerful and empowering, sexy yet sophisticated, pretty much a goddess, and she can sing AND dance at the same time!

So naturally, everyone was waiting with baited breath for her Super Bowl performance. Beyoncé was widely tipped to be preparing to make a deeply political statement with her Super Bowl show after releasing a surprise single and video, Formation, on Saturday, which referenced both Hurricane Katrina and the recent mass protests across the US over police killings of unarmed young black men. And when her and her entourage of dancers stepped on stage, we were not disappointed. Dressed in black panthers uniforms and singing about black oppression is something we do not expect from Bey, and clearly many others did not expect (or enjoy) it either.


Since the performance, there has been uproar over both the Super Bowl show and the meaning behind ‘Formation’. New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, called her performance an “attack” on the police, while many people took to Facebook and Twitter to claim that the Super Bowl is merely a sporting event, and politics should not rear its ugly head.

For me, Beyoncé’s performance is not this mind-blowing, out of the blue, shocking incident. It is simply an artist’s response to recent events. People write music all the time about politics, about minority oppression, so why should Beyoncé be condemned for doing the same?

Here are my problems with people having a problem with Beyoncé:

1.      Claiming that sport and politics are separate is ludicrous. Throughout history, politics (particularly racial issues) has permeated sporting events, making the event iconic in global terms. 1936, 1968, 1976 all have seen stances against racial oppression, ones that have gone down in history. It is a televised platform for conveying a message, always has been, always will be.

2.      Many people are calling Beyoncé ‘anti-police’ for saying ‘stop shooting us’. This is just not correct. When over 100 unarmed black people were shot and killed by police in 2015, I think that is the perfect time to say ‘stop shooting us’. She is not saying that all police are shooting black people, nor is she saying that all police are corrupt or racist. She just does not want any more black people shot.

3.      Wearing Black Panthers uniforms has been deemed as extremist. Yes, in 1964, the FBI said they were the ‘biggest threat to internal security in the US’. But, remember guys, it’s not 1964. The Black Panthers fought for equality, and (I’ve done my research here), were linked to very little violent activity.  In fact, they experienced more violence from the police than they demonstrated themselves. Powerful, not extremist.

4.      Why so much hype over Beyoncé? Yes, she’s fab, but so many other black artists have demonstrated similar feelings, yet their performances have not been publicly condemned. Take Kendrick Lamar, for example. His performance at the Grammy’s received praise from the White House, and public recognition as ‘revolutionary’. Is it because a black woman is daring to speak out against inequality? Or is it that American Football fans don’t want their beloved game sullied by politics?

 

Beyoncé’s performance and new single are different to her previous work, yet should fans be shocked and taken aback by the change in tone? Obviously, only time will tell how the public will respond to it, but for me, Beyoncé is simply saying what she feels needs to be said. 

Watch the video here.

References:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/feb/08/beyonce-black-panthers-homa…

http://theodysseyonline.com/nyu/boycotting-beyonce/311037

I'm Lucy Tillott, a 19 year old Liberal Arts student at the University of Exeter, but am originally from Birmingham. I am studying English and Politics and love getting into debates, which is probably why I am the Current Affairs editor of the Exeter chapter of HerCampus. I was a writer for the current affairs section of HerCampus last year, and loved the opportunity to write every week, make friends, and involve myself in the comradery of HerCampus. I hope to be heavily involved with the thriving community of Exeter HerCampus while sparking an interest in current affairs in our readers.
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