09 February 2016 - Beyonce's political statement in 'Formation'
Beyoncé's Formation reclaims black America's narrative from the margins
On Saturday night, I sent a group text to several friends as we were on our way to meet for drinks. It consisted solely of a screen capture from Beyoncé’s new video for Formation and the words: “We must discuss this shit.”
Everyone knew exactly what I was talking about.
My best friend’s answer: “Did Beyoncé just make a statement about the black feminine body defeating the police state?”
Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley and Caitlin O’Neill (Time, 08/02/2016)
Beyonce’s glittering black girl magic—no, her black grown woman magic—has always been a political statement: an act of black feminist world-making that imagines how black women can survive and create their own, unmatchable value.
The music video to Beyonce’s new single “Formation,” which she performed during the Super Bowl Sunday, is being quickly labeled as political because of its references to Hurricane Katrina and Black Lives Matter protests. But “Formation” differs radically from other post-Ferguson protests songs like Trip Lee’s “Coulda Been Me” or Rihanna’s “American Oxygen” video, which focus on black men’s deaths.
Jon Caramanica, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham (CNN, 06/02/2016)
On Saturday afternoon, Beyoncé released “Formation,” her first new song since 2014, on Tidal and YouTube in advance of her Sunday appearance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The song’s subject is familiar Beyoncé self-affirmation, and the video is among the most politically direct work she’s done in her career, with implicit commentary on police brutality, Hurricane Katrina and black financial power. Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times, Wesley Morris, The Times’s critic at large, and Jenna Wortham, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, discussed the song’s sound, the video’s look and the way that Beyoncé increasingly blends the aesthetic and the political. Here are excerpts from their conversation.
Super Bowl performance
Zandria F. Robinson (Rolling Stone, 08/02/2016)
Announced by a small all-women drum line contingent, 30 black women, led by Beyoncé, appeared in formation at the halftime of the 50th Superbowl. Their style marked a different 50th anniversary, with the afros, black berets and leather commonly associated with the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, founded in Oakland in October 1966. For their 90 seconds on the field before joining Bruno Mars and Coldplay on stage, Beyoncé and her complement of dancers used widely recognizable imagery of black empowerment, even raising clenched fists in unison, to reinforce the messages of black pride in "Formation" – the surprise single and video Beyoncé released on Saturday afternoon, which has us still sweeping pieces of a broken Internet into our collective dustpans.
Yet along with this easily discernible symbol of a national black justice movement, one like today's movement, Beyoncé nodded in particular towards the South and her southern heritage. It was the Black Panther Party in Lowndes County, Alabama, also known as the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, that inspired the founding of the Oakland-based group with which we are now familiar. As Beyoncé reminds us in the lead-up to one of the hooks on "Formation," her father and mother's respective Alabama and Louisiana backgrounds begot her – a "Texas Bama" who likes her daughter's "baby hair" to be in an afro, who prefers her partner's nose with "Jackson Five nostrils," and who keeps hot sauce in her bag in case of criminal under-seasoning or an unexpected fish fry. Even on a national stage, Beyoncé brought the black South, and its formation, into the conversation.
Pour citer cette ressource :
"09 February 2016 - Beyonce's political statement in 'Formation'", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), septembre 2016. Consulté le 08/12/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2016/09-february-2016-beyonce-s-political-statement-in-formation-