Let’s get our facts in “Formation”

Kiran Singh, Beyond Liberty Editor

The Superbowl is an American tradition, with the halftime show being one of the main attractions. This year’s Superbowl included a triad of fan-favorite performers: Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars. The crowd expected music, dancing, and colors, which they got. A sociopolitical statement was an unexpected, even unwelcome, surprise for many.
Beyoncé performed her new hit single, “Formation” at the 2016 Superbowl, and it reflected the Black Lives Matter movement and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Augmenting the performance were the dancers’ uniforms: hair styled into afros, black leather outfits, black berets, and bullet bandoliers – reminiscent for many of the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X.
From common viewers to former mayors, many people expressed that Beyoncé’s use of a football game to make such a “radical” statement was rather inappropriate. People felt that it was unnecessary for her to turn a fun sports event into a political platform. However, one cannot simply argue that athletic events should be exempt from sociopolitical movements, given that those movements affect the daily lives of many voiceless Americans. Should we screen the nation’s artists’ political views so event coordinators can pick which one seems the most “harmless”? Should we protect innocent Americans that go to concerts and sporting events by banning music and artwork from public places? Even better, should we honor Orwell and go full-on 1984 by simply painting everything gray, playing static noises, and banning advertisements? Dystopian blueprints aside, voicing political opinion in both conventional and unconventional situations is the most American thing possible, given that it’s chiefly how our great nation was formed. One could argue that Beyoncé could have sang “Single Ladies” again, but it’s not her job to coddle the American nation. As an artist, it was Beyoncé’s decision to utilize her social influence to gain attention for the Black Lives Matter movement, whether or not people appreciate it.
As a unified nation, we cannot limit artistic freedom and overall freedom of speech in order to feel comfortable in our bubble that protects us from the issues that are affecting people in our country. Some felt that Beyoncé ripped open a wound that America was trying to heal from with such a controversial performance after a series of national protests over the movement against police brutality, but how do you reopen a wound if it never even healed?
Dear America: put down the bubble wrap and stop blaming the nation’s artists for showing you something you don’t want to see.