I KNOW that social media feeds will be flooded with talk around Beyoncé’s new “Formation” video. (http://youtu.be/LrCHz1gwzTo) There are some serious points made in this music video that are valid, but honestly I was working hard not to be distracted by the bootyshaking. (Before y’all go BeyHive crazy on me, hear me out.)
The issues I saw in a this video that deserved to be highlighted:
1. New Orleans-Katrina Aftermath
*2. Wrongful killing of young black boys by police
3. Female empowerment
4. Black southern/creole pride
5. Perception of black female beauty across history and now (various body types, hairstyles, skin tones, etc.)
6. The importance of dreaming and working hard until you reach success
Seriously, I watched it several times trying to understand the complexities of what was presented. I think there were important things to take from this from an artistic and activist standpoint and I want to like it more, but there are parts of it (mainly the jiggly parts) that just won’t let me jump all the way onboard.
I confess that I also struggle with “trap music” as a genre because guess what, not all black people can relate to that style of music. But I try to support support music and the arts in general so I’m hanging in there.
The way that the video is shot is creative and interesting but the “sexy delivery” was distracting from the “social messages” and I wonder how many people will miss the deeper meaning altogether because they can’t get past all the “other”.
There is way too much in this video to unpack at one time so I’ll just focus on the one that hit me hardest. The nod to Trayvon Martin is the part that I felt was the most impactful of the video. I’m still raw over that killing and the fact that any black parent who is “woke” lives with the daily fear that someone will take their child from them at any moment for any reason or no reason at all. That part of slavery is very much alive. So yes, thank you, Beyoncé for including that bit because we still haven’t dealt with that truth as a nation and we need to because we are bleeding out.
I applaud the overall effort of this video though I can’t stand all the way up for it because of some elements that for me, weakened the overall message. (Oh my God, this must be what my grandparents felt like when they first heard real rap music!) What do you do as an artist when you have talent like this and a desire to use your platform, but you feel that you have to deliver it in such a way that you possibly weaken your message and intent? My guess is you make the video and get paid so you can put that money towards what matters to you.
This is my standard bearer for message music videos that get the point across clearly and artistically without unnecessary distraction.
Arrested Development “Tennessee” http://youtu.be/6VCdJyOAQYM
Here is another well written perspective on “Formation” I encourage you to read. We don’t all have to agree but we should be thoughtful about these things and engage in meaning conversation. http://newsouthnegress.com/southernslayings/
Overall, I am thankful for this video. I hope it will continue to spark lively, intelligent conversations for weeks to come.
~Marta C. Youngblood