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A day after the Super Bowl, people are still parsing over each frame from Beyonce’s halftime performance, trying to glean the messages, both subtle and overt, that made for a stunning display of unapologetic blackness and political activism during one of the most-watched events of the year.

The halftime show — seen by an estimated 112 million people — is drawing praise from her fans and consternation from critics.

While Beyonce hasn’t commented on the specifics of the show, and her rep declined comment, the imagery speaks for itself. Beyonce’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party, founded 50 years ago by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in the Bay area — the location of this year’s Super Bowl. At one point during their routine, the dancers formed an “X” on the field, which some people are taking as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X.

In addition, Beyoncé and her dancers raised a fist to the sky, reminiscent of the black power salutes of the 1960-70s, made popular internationally by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists to the sky after winning gold and bronze at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Several people applauded her embracing the history of black activism and of her own identity. Her new song “Formation,” which she sang during her performance, includes the lyrics “I like my baby hair, with baby hair and Afros. I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

“I think that you’re hard-pressed to find that demonstrative an example of performative blackness on stage, on such a high-profile stage,” said Damon Young, editor in chief of the website VerySmartBrothas  on Monday. “Between the dancers coming out dressed as Black Panthers to the lyrics to the song, again … I can’t recall another time you saw that unambiguousness with a performance on a large scale.”

Melina Abdullah, a Black Lives Matter activist and leader in California, said it’s wonderful that artists like Beyonce “are willing to raise social consciousness and use their artistry to advance social justice.”

But not everyone appreciated Beyoncé’s performance. Republican Congressman Peter King of New York immediately condemned Beyoncé for her performance, saying on Facebook “her pro-Black Panther and anti-cop video ‘Formation’ and her Super Bowl appearance is just one more example of how acceptable it has become to be anti-police.”

(While there were no direct references to police on the Super Bowl field, the video, released Saturday, features a young black child in a hoodie dancing in front of a line of police officers, and graffiti that reads “Stop Shooting Us.”)

And all of this comes during heightened racial tensions across the country, particularly in regards to allegations of police brutality. Hollywood is grappling with issues of race as well, with Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith planning to skip the Academy Awards after no actors of color received Oscar nominations for a second year in a row.

Lakeyta Bonnette, a Georgia State University political science professor, said more and more celebrities like Beyonce are moving toward public activism. In 2014, basketball superstar LeBron James and other NBA players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts to their basketball games: “I can’t breathe” were the last words of Eric Garner, a black man who died after a physical altercation with police in New York City.

But some people have complained that Beyonce injected politics into a sports event. On Monday’s Fox & Friends, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slammed her tributes to black activism during the halftime show when performers are “talking to Middle America.”

“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive,” said Giuliani, who said he would have preferred “decent wholesome entertainment.”

To be fair, it wasn’t just Beyoncé that the 71-year old Giuliani didn’t like. He called the whole halftime show “ridiculous.”

“I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible,” he said. “Actually don’t even know why we have this. I mean, this is football.”

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41 thoughts on “Beyoncè’s Super Bowl 50 Performance Generates Raves, Criticism

  1. Beyonce, you and your dancer’s did a wonderful job. Forget the Na Sayers, Haters, Negative Wannabe ‘ers . Keep Black hope alive. Besides, it’s more than I can say for that Dash chick!

  2. Beyonce got 99 problems but Giuliani ain’t one. As the elders in my family say ” a hit dog gonna always holler”.
    Sound like she struck a nerve. “The future is going to tell the truth about the past.” ( I know…; its patented)

  3. James R on said:

    What you expect its Black History Month she can dance on stage if she wants to, I don’t criticize St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish or Scottish Rights to celebrate in the fashion they want to celebrate, no counting Mardi-Gras, Fat Tuesday etc. The play Romano and Juliet is more violent, then Bey, and her dancers dancing on stage, why do everything have to be racial.

  4. Beyonce and Bruno Mars brought the house down. That was pure entertainment. Who cares what Giuliani thinks. He loves Foxnews and anything he can find to degrade blacks, Giuliani will do it on Foxnews. Beyonce is good and we all know what happens when you start getting big. Haters and detractor start coming.

  5. David Davis on said:

    I don’t really care that much for Beyonce, but I hate Guiliani’s guts and everything he stands for. I don’t know if Beyonce was trying to make a statement or not, but if she were, the super bowl may not have been the right forum. But on the other hand, since the majority of the NFL is African American, and these same guys that are suited up in football gear, could easily become victims of police when out in public in civilian gear, I don’t really fault her. We should all be against the kind of police violence that’s being perpetrated against men of color. I certainly don’t excuse Black on Black violence, but I will tell you that no thug on the street has taken an oath to protect and serve.

  6. Lady GaGa, as usual, sang a flawlessly. I really appreciated the tribute to past masters. Everything else, including the fishnet/bodysuit booty shaking, I fast forwarded through. We have got to do better.

  7. “Unapologetic blackness”. Are we talking about the same woman who will only wear fake blond weave? The only part of the half time show worth watching was the tribute to past masters and of course Lady Ga Ga singing the national anthem. Fast forward through the fishnet bodysuit crap. The rest was just more of the same old same old.

    • So what if she wears a weave. MOST women of today of ALL RACES are wearing some kind of weave, hair piece, pony tail, etc. I see nothing wrong with that (and the blonde color compliment Beyonce skin tone which is a WARM tone color). The girl was great. As for her outfits, that is her stage image. Funny we praised Tina Turner for doing the same thing with short skirts YET some folks want to trash Beyonce.

      • Well Amber, we have to agree to disagree. I respect your opinion, I just don’t happen to share it. I guess we probably just have different tastes in style and entertainment.

    • pointblank43 on said:

      uhmmmm a couple of those “past masters” one was an alleged child molester and the other a drug addict before their death…..ijs

      • There is absolutely no telling what any of them did before their deaths. There is no telling what Bouncy has done up to this point. What does that have to do with the price of apples in Washington? Who said anything about what anyone has done in their past? Are you sure you’re posting to the right site?

  8. Really… acording to the history books… Police were used to capture run away slaves… 12 years a slave show they were corrupt since then… nothing has changed… guiliani should be ashamed of himself… but they keep telling on themselves so go figure

  9. specialt757 on said:

    I thought the half-time show was nice. I didn’t have any complaints. I do think without a doubt Beyoncé is good at what she does (although I don’t like her latest music) and is a true professional and I don’t have to be a fan to recognize and give credit where credit is due. I was crazy about Bruno Mars and his guys’ performance, I think they did a great job, as for cold-play’s guy, I wasn’t impressed.
    Lady GaGa looked a complete mess, she sounded fine, but she looked horrible, but then again, that’s nothing new.

  10. reflections on said:

    I salute Beyonce for her courage. Most privileged african american have ignored the murders of unarmed african american at the hands of white violent extremist police. Because they believe there families are above it. Think of the athletes and entertainers that have remained quiet while watching this injustice believing they are safe. Edward Snowden said “If you want to protect your rights you have to protect the rights of others”.

  11. As always Beyoncé was AWESOME!!!!!

    However, those HATERS at FOX NEWS always have something negative/ugly to say where African American’s are concerned!!!!!!!!

  12. I was going to watch till I heard Beyonce was performing. She is so disguisting with her attention tactics and not to mention half nakedness. Its so time for her to sit down anywhere.

    • Say What on said:

      Let me guess. YOu wanted to be a singer and did not make it or you man is lusting over Ms. B and yo do not like her. There is nothing nasty about Beyonce. If you do not like her, that is fine but do not sound like a jealous no talent.

    • Exactly. And we all know that the more fame you get, the more people will come at you. Michael was as humble as they come and look what people did to him in trying to tear him down even when “Off the wall” and “Thriller” blew him up. That is typical of some people to do. I will give this girl, Bruno Mars, (Coldplay did well for the type of music they do) did GREAT.

  13. Jacqueline on said:

    I didn’t like the halftime show either.I liked lady gaga.I think we need to have had some positive music at the show.why not some gospel acts.I’m tired of pop stars and half dressed women.Shirley Cesar or yolonda Adams or some Reba mcentire or dolly parton.we’ve gotta get some positive vibes going on in america.all the negativity is ruining our country

    • your daddy on said:

      how is showing support to the black panthers negative? and who said the cops were on black folks side? to Black People, cops are our biggest concern they’re aren’t out to help us.. and Lady Gaga looked and sound awful, mismatch shoes and she’s a known for worshiping the devil so why is she positive? you white folks and brain washed sell outs hate to see true black pride.. I don’t even like Beyonce’s music but the halt-time show was awesome and it brought together , cold-play and bruno mars with her so how’s that not positive? You know black is the best because it gets hated on the most

      • Beyoncé killed it! Not a huge fan of her, but she made a statement and it was awesome.

        But I have to laugh at “Lady Gaga known for worshipping the devil.” Honey, what are you talking about? You sound so crazy right now. Like paranoid and delusional. Even if she did worship the devil, who cares? How does that affect your sad life?

      • your daddy on said:

        Leila if you wanna suck gaga tit go ahead but because I state facts don’t get it twisted ain’t nothing sad over here, what’s sad is out of my comment the only thing that got your attention was lady gaga and not the fact that Beyonce’s performance was outstanding.. so if you can’t be an intellectual and get your point across without insults don’t get mad at the one’s who can..I rock with Beyonce’s performance because she finally showed some true black pride and she did it in a great and classy way

    • Jacqueline I agree NEGATIVITY is out of control. It appears that so many people are unhappy/mad at the world. I get negativity (everyday) from people that work in stores, restaurants, etc., and what I say to them is just because you are unhappy with your life doesn’t mean that you are allowed to be rude to customers. As for “gospel” music at half-time NOT…..for many reasons that I won’t go into.

      • specialt757 on said:

        I agree Joy, I’m all for a change up for the superbowl half-time show, but gospel would not be what I expect, and I love gospel. I am also tired of the half-dressed performers, it’s as if they need this to compensate for lack of talent. And I got it, sex sales, but you can be sexy with clothes on, I do it every day LOL.
        I’ve never seen Anita, Natalie, Aretha, Patti or even Chaka perform practically nude. Their talent was their biggest assets and really no one cared how fat their behinds were or big their breast were (okay maybe some men did lol).

      • You are 100% correct Special. One of the best examples of what you say would be Whitney Houston, standing stock still, wearing a long, white gown, under a single spotlight singing I Will Always Love You. No booty shaking. No ass out. No thigh gapping and no air humping, and no way could you take your eyes off her. But the minute fishnets and bodysuits hit my screen, I hit fast forward. Just tired of the same old same old. And trust me. It has definitely gotten old.

      • Well what Beyone wears is not too different than what TIna Turner wore in her day with the short skirt almost about to show her butt and heels. And most women think Tina was the bomb.

      • Most women may have thought that, but I once heard a man, while watching Tina perform remark “she act like a wild whore”. Contrary to popular belief, this type of entertainment does not appeal to everyone. I could sit a watch Aretha all day, but Madonna’s half naked bucking makes me want to wash my eyes with bleach.

      • specialt757 on said:

        Exactly Kate1221, I forgot about Whitney, don’t ask me how (hands down better than any singer out here today). And even when she sang the National Anthem in her headband and jogging suit, she looked good, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I’m really disappointed in today’s music and styles. For example (and I won’t name names) but one top female artist only refers to people wanting to f—k her in every song she performs and no doubt she has on the minimum amount of clothes allowed. Is that all she’s got going for herself? SMH, what a shame.

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