Beyonce's 2016 Super Bowl performance was more significant than you thought

Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
Beyonce's '16 Super Bowl performance was more significant than you thought

A fan or not, Beyonce's 2016 Super Bowl performance (and what followed after) was unforgettable.

Coldplay might have headlined Super Bowl 50, but Beyonce ended up stealing the show. Though no one would ever question her prowess on the stage, it was Beyonce's political statement that caught everyone's eye. Some were in support, and some against.


Buzz was already picking up, with everyone focused on her 2016 single 'Formation', released a day before the event. It was a bold choice for the singer, and a clear departure from her usual style.

What irked a few and fueled her fans, however, was the celebration of black culture and its clear political message. Beyonce (literally) sinks a New Orleans cop car as she celebrates her black heritage and feminity.

Literally everyone forgot Coldplay was the headliner…

As the music video progresses, we see a kid dancing in front of cops and the car completely submerged, while the lyrics perfectly complement the images. The Super Bowl performance followed right after.

Beyonce's Super Bowl show was a nod to Michael Jackson, and the Black Panther Party

With a scene no one expected, Beyonce walked onto the stage in a Michael Jackson-inspired outfit with black female backup dancers sporting berets for the Black Panther Party.

To those unaware, the party is an organization "with an ideology of black nationalism, socialism, and armed self-defense, particularly against police brutality."

The group was formed in Oakland, around 40 miles from the venue. The game (Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos) was played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

If the dress wasn't enough, they raised their fists in the air, a nod to the Black Panthers' statue. Fans remained emotional after the show, emphasizing the gravity of her move.

Beyonce's dancers paid tribute to #MarioWoods, black man killed by San Francisco police. #SB50 #BlackLives

Furthermore, they even paid a tribute to Malcolm X, a black civil rights leader who had been shot dead. The dancers were also seen speaking up for Woods, a 26-year-old killed by San Francisco police.

Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

Her iconic costume, of course, was clearly a homage to Jackson's 1993 Super Bowl show.

Not everyone was happy with Beyonce

There was instant criticism that came along with the massive wave of support.

Former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, was enraged, referring to her performance as 'anti-police':

"This is football, not Hollywood, and 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," Giuliani told Fox News.
I'm a star, cause I slay Beyonce Formation Super Bowl 2016 performance dance powerful black power iconic reaction videos/memes

He called the show 'ridiculous', adding:

"You're talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl. So if you're going to have entertainment, have decent, wholesome entertainment and not use it as a platform to attack people".

Others, like Black Lives Matter activist Melina Abdullah, praised the artist. After all, someone like Beyonce might not use their reach to spread much-needed awareness.

People launched a '#BoycottBeyonce' hashtag on Twitter, even organizing an anti-Beyonce rally. Ultimately, no one showed up for the same.

Some even pointed fingers at the style of her outfit, convinced that the low-cut dress and leather was not well-suited for family-friendly viewings.

Beyonce clarified and stood by her Super Bowl act in a later statement

During an interview with Elle, Beyonce spoke about the 'anti-police' claims made. As per the Texas native, people who are using the term are 'completely mistaken'.

“I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things,” she said.
Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

Beyonce continued:

“If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me".

In the end, Beyonce remained proud of their song and the conversation it gave rise to.

If you look at her work the same year, including her album 'Lemonade', the Super Bowl performance only helped kick-start a new chapter in her life as an artist and as a performer.

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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