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Beyoncé's Formation video slayed, but her message falls flat

Crystal Lewis Brown


Causes & Culture

Crystal Lewis Brown is a parent of two boys, a wife and lifelong writer. She is also SheKnows' director of editorial operations. You can also follow her on twitter at @c_lewisbrown

Beyoncé has millions hanging on her every move, but are they really hearing her?

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that Beyoncé surprise-dropped her new single, Formation over the weekend. The imagery is striking: an underwater New Orleans, her standing atop a sinking police car, a boy in a hoodie dancing in front of a row of police officers in riot gear, graffiti reading  "Stop shooting us." 

It's just too bad that the song itself relies on her usual "I-have-sex-with-my-man-stop-talking-about-us-we-rich-fall-back-haters" message. Don’t get me wrong; the chick is bad. I can't find a single thing wrong with the video (except maybe the part where they are dancing in the denim outfits, but I think that’s just a difference in style choices). I even like the nod to her parents' heritage that produced a "Texasbama."

And I nodded in agreement with her clapping back at those who question why Blue Ivy wears her hair the way she does ("I like my baby hair with baby hair and afro.") And yes, the dance sequences made me wish for the umpteenth time that I could dance (or at least had an El Camino so I could rock my braids out the window like she did).

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But while some groups suggested a boycott of the Super Bowl halftime show because they deemed the video too political and anti-police, I don't think she took it far enough.

We get it, you're rich. Instead of touting that you take your man to Red Lobster after good sex, how about a line about how the black community has united in activism in the wake of multiple police brutality cases? How a disenfranchised people have constantly and consistently persevered and will continue to do so. Instead of the constant refrain of "I slay", how about a call for all communities to unite?

I love the call for women to "get in formation." But instead of getting in formation to "slay" how about calling for us to get in formation for a cause?

Beyoncé has millions hanging on her every move, but are they really hearing her?
Image: YouTube

I appreciate the direction she's going, and it's clear that she and Jay-Z are putting their money where their mouths are and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Even that news is huge for a typically apolitical Bey. But for someone who sent the Internet in a frenzy over the surprise track and then performed it with dancers dressed like Black Panthers (albeit ones in hot pants) in front of millions of people, it was a chance to take a real stance for something.

The entire vibe of the halftime show changed when Bey's all-girl crew hit the field — and I mean that in a good way. I think asking for a little more of the video's strong messaging may be asking a bit too much from a unifying performance that was also a nod to the Super Bowl's 50 years (and Michael Jackson's iconic performance). But the brief fist in the air was a good start. I just wish that it was the start of a dialogue on race in our country instead of one on who would be up bright and early to buy tickets to her concert.

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In all the frenzy, did anyone even notice that she has partnered with the United Way to help children affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan? So many good things in one single, one video, one Super Bowl performance, one tour. I'm just afraid that the buzz of the Beyhive is so loud that we may be missing something really big here.

She said it herself: "You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation."

True. I just wish she’d said something a little more substantial.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Beyoncé has millions hanging on her every move, but are they really hearing her?
Image: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
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