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10 Provocative and Insightful Responses to Beyoncé's "Formation"

Posted February 10, 2016

On Saturday, February 6 Beyoncé released a music video for her new single, "Formation," a song she also performed during the Super Bowl halftime the next day. With images of flooded New Orleans and a child dancing in front of heavily armed policemen along with lyrics about empowerment, this song signals a more overt political message for the pop star. Especially since the Super Bowl performance, where Beyoncé's backup singers wore berets reminiscent of the Black Panthers, the new song and video have been a ubiquitous topic of conversation and debate. Today on The Feed, we're giving you a list of responses to the song, and it can give an idea of the variety of responses to "Formation."
 

 

  1. Writer and filmmaker dream hampton talks with NPR about how the music video is a "visual anthem." She says in the interview: "I think that the image with the boy who's basically conducting a police lineup is magic. [...] I think it was incredibly powerful. I think it was also a nod to Tamir Rice, you know. It's about a black visionary, a black future [where] we are imagining ourselves having power, and magic. And I think it's beautiful.”

     
  2. In "On 'Jackson Five Nostrils,' Creole v. 'Negro,' and Beefing over Beyonce's 'Formation'"Dr. Yaba Blay asks us to respond with care and caution because the song evokes something very personal: "But we have got to be honest enough to react to 'Formation' from a personal place. We need to say, 'You know what? This argument ain't about Bey. It's about me.'"

     
  3. A group of people who were offended by Beyoncé's song and performance at the Super Bowl has called for protest against the singer. The first invitation sounds something like this: "Are you offended as an American that Beyoncé pulled her race-baiting stunt at the Superbowl?" #BoycottBeyonce.  That invitation sparked a counter protest and then invitation sounded like this: "When Black women affirm Blackness/Black womanhood, they are attacked and silenced. #BlackGirlMagic"​ Read more here.

     
  4. Analysis of Beyoncé's "Formation" video: "We Slay, Part I". According to the author, "To slay the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy, we must start, Beyoncé argues, with the proper formation.” 

     
  5. "White People: Shut Up About Beyonce": "If you don't like the way Black artist portray white people, work on changing the impact of white people in Black lives, not on telling Black people they're wrong about their own lives."

     
  6. In an article for NPR, writer and National Book Award Winner Jesmyn Ward discusses how "Formation" is more than just about blackness. It is about Southern blackness.

     
  7. "Beyoncé's Capitalism, Masquerading as Radical Change": This writer questions how "Formation" connects power with monetary prowess and challenges Beyoncé's depiction of black femininity.

     
  8. To show the influence Beyoncé has in American culture, one mention of Red Lobster in "Formation" has spiked Red Lobster's sales by 33%.  

     
  9. According to this article, Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, have been involved with social activism before the release of "Formation." They donated $1.5 million to the #blacklivesmatter movement.  They also quietly gave money to bail protestors out of jail in Baltimore and Ferguson.
     

  10. The Daily Show's Jessica Williams offers a humorous, but piercing commentary on the outrage that Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance sparked. 


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