By: Zenab Saeed ~Staff Writer~
Following the release of Beyoncé’s newest single and its music video on Feb. 6, “Formation” became the subject of controversy.
Initially, the controversy surrounding the music video stemmed from accusations that the video borrowed footage from a 2013 short documentary titled “That B.E.A.T” about New Orleans and the city’s culture without permission.
Filmmakers Abteen Bagheri and Chris Black took to Twitter to accuse “Formation” director Melina Matsoukas of using footage from their film despite the fact that they did not grant permission. In response to these accusations, a representative for Beyoncé stated that the consent was granted to use the documentary footage. Director Matsoukas also took to Twitter to express admiration and gratitude for the filmmaker’s artistic perspective.
Once this controversy finally fizzled, Beyoncé and her video became the subject of even more controversy, this time for the content and message of her song and video.
The lyrics of “Formation” alone, which fit the genre of the New Orleans style hip-hop called “bounce music,” discuss important and relevant topics like taking pride in her racial heritage, the Black Lives Matter movement and the status and struggles of black people in America.
The day after releasing her single, the Grammy Award-winning artist then performed it during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Her performance was an instant target of criticism. Critics argued that Beyoncé’s performance was inappropriate for the event, saying that she used it as an opportunity to push a political agenda. Critics were especially upset that the singer’s backup dancers were dressed in costumes reminiscent of the Black Panther movement.
These critics failed to realize that we do not get to decide when it is appropriate to talk about the reality that our country is facing. Why is the Super Bowl halftime show an inappropriate venue for this sort of artistic expression? Why should an artist have to apologize for the message of her song or its music video, especially when they show a reality that is important for everyone to recognize?
In response to the absurdity of the controversy, comedy show “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch on its Feb. 13 episode mocking the uproar surrounding the video.
Though “SNL” poked fun at the criticism Beyoncé is facing for her song and video, it is important to understand the reality of the situation.
Beyoncé may be a pop star and many of her songs may not feature politically driven undertones, but it does not mean that she does not have the power or right to continue to make music that makes a difference.
By using her platform to bring attention to important issues and realities surrounding race in America, Beyoncé is using her talent and artistic perspective to promote greater understanding and open-mindedness.
She should not be the subject of criticism for making such a brave and meaningful decision.