Beyonce preformed at the 2016 SuperBowl Halftime show and it was a perfectly executed call to action. She used her public identity as a powerful African American woman who is the leader of her own BeyHive to bring public focus back to the issue of police brutality in America. Her new song ‘Formation’ that she released Saturday approximately 24 hours before she was to preform is the first part of her political statement about the plight of the African Americans, citing Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans as the jumping off point for this political movement. The second part of the call to action was her iconic Superbowl performance during which she presented a symbolic call to action using Black Panther imagery.
“Okay, Ladies now lets get in FORMATION”
This song is not only iconic because its a new Beyonce song, but it is a powerful political statement. The line that she repeats over and over again is ,”Okay, Ladies now lets get in formation” signaling that her desired message from this song is a call to action and not just another chart topping hit. People responded as they often do when a new Beyonce video drops, and it was all about black power and how Beyonce has made certain features mainstream again. She uses the south as the setting for her video. New Orleans is one of the most historically neglected cities in the country and she used imagery from Hurricane Katrina to highlight that. The video showed flooding, graffiti, and New Orleans residents to put a face to the issue that nothing had been done to protect the African American during the disaster. She made a previously invisible group completely reborn in a 5 minute video. All her dancers were powerful looking African American women with natural hair styles showing off their beautiful selves.
Beyonce preformed at the Superbowl on Sunday and she killed it. She used her clothes, her song choice, and her dance moves to further her call to action message. First, her performance started with a drum line beat that only enhanced her militant presence and showed that she was there to deliver a strong message. The second thing I noticed was that all her dancers were, just like in the video, powerful, talented black women. She used this to prove that her call was being answered already. Her next rhetorical choice was her clothing. She and all her backup dancers were dressed in militant clothing and the dancers were all wearing black berets with their Afros. This has been a point of discussion all week with various media outlets and that is exactly how she intended this statement to work. Many people are claiming that this clothing choice was in direct homage to Malcolm X and the Black Panther movement. I think this was confirmed when she and her dancers took the formation of an X and she was right in the front.
Beyonce has been known to present herself at the forefront of incredibly important issues like education, feminism, and now, she is breathing life back into the Black Lives Matter movement. She could not have chosen a better rhetorical situation to release this song/video. She used Black History Month and the magnitude of the Superbowl to propel her powerful message to a multi-million member audience. Her video shows cops with their hands up, she calls to mind Malcolm X and she shows that black is beautiful and no one will tell her otherwise. This video and performance will shake up the discussion about race and maybe people will fall into the formation by taking Beyonce’s example.