After the February 2016 Super Bowl game you may have noticed conversation about Beyonce’s half time performance of her new song “Formation”. One hashtag that trended after the game was #BeyonceBoycott.
Some people were upset with Beyonce’s performance because they interpreted it as anti-law enforcement. Many observed that Beyonce and her dancers were dressed like Black Panther members and formed a large “X” on the field, interpreted to represent Malcom X. Black Panthers are a controversial group in U.S. history because they are associated with law enforcement resistance. In addition, 2016 not only marked Super Bowl 50, but also marked the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party founding in 1966 and also falls in the month of February, black history month. As you can see below, #beyonceboycott spiked in activity on Twitter right after the Superbowl.
After the show, Beyonce’s back-up dances posed for picture with a sign that read “Black lives matter.” However, Beyonce’s performance is not the only factor that sparked #beyonceboycott. Beyonce released “Formation” the day before the Super Bowl, her first new song in over a year. It was released with a music video. The video includes scenes of a hooded African American boy dancing in front of a line of men portrayed as police officers in riot gear and a scene of a wall with graffitied words that read “Stop shooting us.” The video also shows Beyonce sitting and laying on a police car that continues to sink in a flooded neighborhood, representing hurricane Katrina, until it is completely submerged by the end of the video. Thus, Beyonce’s video and live performance became, to some, a message against law enforcement. Many began using the hashtag #bluelivesmatter referring to police men.
— Keefer (@ChippyCham) February 20, 2016
In fact, after the performance, a police group on Miami, Florida announced that it would boycott and not provide security for Beyonce’s upcoming concert in April and called on other police to do the same. Other police groups also spoke out against Beyonce’s performance and video including groups in Nashville and New York City. However, to others, Beyonce’s performance stood as a message of support to the black community, thus the association of hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
But, as the most retweeted tweet suggests, tickets to Beyonce’s Formation Tour were still in extremely high demand after her performance.