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  • Beyoncé Performs At The Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show 2/3/13
Tags: , / Credit: Getty

Last night, the Baltimore Ravens won the motherfucking Super Bowl. Really, for those of us who come from Baltimore, everything else that happened is a footnote: The bizarre half-hour power outage that threatened to send the game into chaos, the Budweiser commercial with the horse that made everyone cry, the presence of porcupine cheerleaders at the Puppy Bowl. But we’re also lucky that last night had arguably the best halftime show since Prince tore it down a few years ago. Beyoncé, still apparently furious about all the talk of lip-syncing at the Inauguration, ripped through a strenuously choreographed, hit-jammed 14-minute show that took pains to highlight her absolutely-real vocal chops. Beyond a quick (and expected) Destiny’s Child reunion, the show had no celebrity guests, though it did have a female guitarist whose instrument shot sparks from both ends and a multiple-screen installation thing that made it look like Beyoncé was cloning herself in front of us. Watch the performance below before the NFL inevitably rains fiery hell down on all the YouTube posts.

And after that, this happened:

And then this. So yeah, good night. There’s a very real chance that I’m just giving Album Of The Week to the Baltimore Ravens.

Comments (54)
  1. Congrats, Tom. :-)

  2. B’s on top of the world.

  3. I thought Alicia Key’s National Anthem performance was better.

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  5. Beyonce needs to stop putting the mic in the crowd. No one wants to hear those people sing

  6. “and a multiple-screen installation thing that made it look like Beyoncé was cloning herself in front of us”

    you mean hologram! come on! you guys practically coined it after tupac last year!

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  8. I can totally appreciate Beyonce’s singing/dancing talent, but I have a problem with the people who are holding up this halftime performance as some sort of paragon of female achievement and empowerment. I saw too many disturbing status updates like this one after halftime:

    “Beyonce is living proof that a woman can be sexy, strong, talented, intelligent, and classy all at once. A shoutout to Sasha Fierce for inspiring grown women and little girls everywhere. I will now make watching YouTube videos of that performance my full-time ambition in order to gain some of those #skillz, #dancemoves, #curves.”

    Which was affirmed by other girls with lines such as: “The day I confidently shake my booty on national television in a bangin’ black leather bodysuit…”

    I don’t doubt that Beyonce is in many ways a great role model. But I will say that her performance was, from a feminist standpoint, pandering and regressive. Observing the reactions and praise it garnered from “progressive” women made me feel like I had been watching the wrong channel.

    If Beyonce gyrating in her underwear about wanting a man to put a ring on her finger is the gold standard for young girls to aspire to then feminism has been completely swallowed up, subverted by the system, and turned into a gimmick that exists to maintain the status quo, championing what is utterly nonsense and believing that it’s a victory. And don’t give me the “But she had all female musicians!” argument. That is neither noteworthy nor impressive and serves only to trick you into thinking her performance was pseudo-progressive.

    I don’t mean to sound like a total grouch and say that there is anything inherently wrong with looking great, dancing suggestively, or flaunting it if you got it. There isn’t. It’s just that so-called feminists need to stop rationalizing how progressive it is. It’s not, it’s the status quo.

    • I have heard/read a lot of pseudo feminists make a similar argument, taking issue with Beyoncé’s lack of clothes and/or sexually suggestive dance moves. I am not going to make the case that Beyoncé is outstandingly progressive or feminist. However, I just want to point out that finding her dancing and wardrobe problematic only reflects a pretty outdated understanding of feminism. A female performance artist exuding her sexuality is not, by definition, anti-feminist, “regressive”, or “pandering”; to argue this would be holding her to a pretty conservative and repressive standard. I determining whether her image is regressive has a lot to do with what she communicates to and with the audience, which is somewhat of a complicated discourse given the amount of women who arguably find more enjoyment in Beyoncé than men. I don’t think booty shaking always sends the message “do this because men like it”. I think it’s possible for a pop culture entertainer to express sexuality without demeaning herself. But who knows. Studying this might lead us to the same conclusion about Beyoncé that you’re making, but it’s not as simple as scantily clad=bad.

      And for the record, “Single Ladies”, which you referred to, is more of an “in your face, you missed your chance” song than “waaah marry me” like you suggested.

      Again, I’m not directly contradicting you; I’m just pointing out that it’s more complicated. I understand what you’re saying. There are some mixed messages– perhaps too many for someone who is increasingly becoming a symbol in pop culture for progressive ideas about gender, femininity, women’s liberation, etc..

      • Beyonce became the symbol of feminist apathy when she allowed Jay-Z to get away with “I got that hot bitch in my home”.

        • …or sang the incredibly slut-shaming “Nasty Girl” or the submissive “Cater to U” or the horrible “Upgrade U”, which is basically about hoa a woman is a perfect accessory for a man next to “purple label” neckties.That song actually contains the unbelievable line: “It’s very seldom that ur blessed to find ur equal / Still play my part and let u take the lead role, believe me” Which basically says: I am happy to be your subordinate because you’re a man. And now her tour is named the “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour”… I think you can say that Beyonce (or at least her writers and producers) are
          anti-feminists… which is quite a shame.

          Beyonce is an incredible musician… “B-Day” is such a great Album, musically… but when it comes to progressive stances on being a woman, you shouldn’t turn to Beyonce.

      • Thanks for the insightful response, Nathan. Yours are great points. I totally agree that there is nothing wrong with a female entertainer flaunting her sexuality or having a sexualized image, and agree accordingly that scantily-clad definitely does not equal bad. And you certainly don’t have to be a man to appreciate her beauty and fitness. I didn’t mean to criticize her clothing choice.

        I meant to criticize the people proclaiming her a role model for young girls based on the following: her thighs, dance moves, and wealth/fame (aka the entire halftime show). Those are all great individual accomplishments Beyonce should be proud of, and if you want to record pop songs or are doing lots of squats at the gym then you should go buy her poster. But it should not be mistaken for something more. She should not be deemed the height of female achievement because she gave a song and dance performance in front of a Pepsi-Cola backdrop and looked good doing it (nobody should).

        The NFL/CBS/Pepsi gave Beyonce the gig because they knew she would perform well, attract viewers, and ultimately increase profit. That is why we just saw her on TV. It does not make her someone to look up to – she may have other qualities that do, but this halftime performance is not some great win for women. It was a business move and should not be misunderstood as any sort of feminist progress.

        Fixating on her all-female band only shows that people are happy to take what is fed to them and justify it under the guise of feminism rather than wanting something more. It’s akin to being in an abusive relationship and being OK with getting beat up as long as there are flowers every once in a while. (An ugly metaphor and I don’t mean to make light of domestic abuse.) Beyonce just supported and perpetuated the system that feminists purport to change but nobody noticed because she had a couple women playing the instruments.

    • I’m no expert, but isn’t progressive feminism being able to do what you want to do? Whether it means wearing ankle skirts and turtlenecks or gyrating in a leather leotard?

    • At the very least, it’s refreshing to see a conversation about feminism with so many female voices present.

      • I would just like to note that having an all female band is actually very noteworthy and impressive. And Kayla is absolutely right.

        • How so? No snark meant, I’m curious. Most of the music I listen to and read about features female musicians and pop culture is littered with massively popular women. I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist, just that I find it hard to believe that someone as established and wealthy as Beyonce can’t play with women if she wants to. It’s hard for me to think that all this time she’s been forced against her will to play with men.

          • I think their reasoning behind the “all-female band” breaking boundaries is just that: it’s something that hasn’t been done before. Except it totally had been done before in the mid 80s and 90s and with actual feminist intent in the Riot Grrrl movement. And even today, you have artists like Merrill Garbus who makes music from a sturdy standpoint of female empowerment, on top of being philanthropic as hell. I kind of feel like exactly what women are fighting when I try to say which women are the right women to look up to, but I can’t help but feel completely confused when women say Beyonce is a beacon of feminist vim and vigor.

          • “I kind of feel like exactly what women are fighting when I try to say which women are the right women to look up to”

            I really like that.
            I hope I’m not coming off as what you’re describing. I probably am. I just like to talk about this shit.

          • in the words of actual riot grrrl kathleen hanna.:

            “Beyoncé isn’t Beyoncé because she reads comments on the Internet. Beyoncé is in Ibiza, wearing a stomach necklace, walking hand in hand with her hot boyfriend. She’s going on the yacht and having a mimosa. She’s not reading shitty comments about herself on the Internet, and we shouldn’t either. I just think, Would Beyoncé be reading this? No, she would just delete it or somebody would delete it for her. What I really need to do is close the computer and then talk back to that voice and say, Fuck you. I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m Beyoncé. I’m going to Ibiza with Jay-Z now, fuck off. Being criticized is part of the job, but seeking it out isn’t. That’s our piece to let go.”

    • I understand what you’re saying better now; I might have been oversimplifying your original argument for the sake of putting forth my own.

      I don’t know if anyone worth noting considers her the height of female achievement. Perhaps those who do consider this are better for it, because it could likely mean Beyonce is the woman in their sheltered periphery putting forth a message that at least resembles some shred of feminism or female empowerment.

      I’m not quick to dismiss the significance of the all-female band. It’s a little disturbing about how some of the praise surrounding it can verge on condescending– as if it’s impressive that a group of women can actually play music. Nevertheless, I think the choice to make the band completely female is an interesting one, given the machismo, borderline-mysoginistic nature of football– as a sport, as a fan culture, and as commercial entertainment. The halftime show was a burst of distinctly feminine energy, accentuated by an all-female band, that did not exist to exclusively please men, nor invite comparisons to men. It was an expression of power. Even if placing her in the halftime show, was purely for commercial and entertainment purposes (let’s face it; it was), I can’t help but come away optimistic about the fact that putting a performance like this in the middle of a hypermasculine sporting event is considered a low-risk, highly marketable business move.

      You find the methods of this particular notion of empowerment to be troubling for reasons I completely agree with. Beyoncé’s brand of female empowerment exists wholly within the universe of our consumer culture, and her songs reflect and reproduce a lot of that culture’s bad habits, heavily linking social/cultural/self worth to material wealth and status. I believe that you are expressing unease with the idea that Beyoncé tends to reinforce these notions that are widely agreed to be corrosive, and further, presents them as a vehicle for female empowerment. I agree that it’s troubling. I don’t really feel the need to expand on this because I think we’re in agreement.

      Still, I can’t help but be swayed by the positives. On the subject of representing femininity, I find her to be a favorable alternative to many of the other female performance artists/musicians who have achieved a similar magnitude of fame. Rihanna is a really obvious example, in how she has been way too publicly forgiving of Chris Brown, even romanticizing a relationship with an (emotionally, if not physically) abusive partner in that song she did with Eminem. A less obvious one, Taylor Swift, strikes me as somewhat dangerous in how she’s this symbol of feminine innocence and purity– some kind of all-American virgin or something– with songs that obsess over competing over boys with other girls. She resorts to slut shaming in many instances, and there’s an overarching message that you’re no one unless a boy likes you. She’s certainly not alone in reinforcing these sorts of gender stereotypes, as they have been prevalent in pop music since its inception, but it’s a little creepy to me that the fact that she does not challenge a single 1950s social/cultural norm is the exact reason she’s supposed to be so likable.

      Sorry about how longwinded my responses have been. I just enjoy discussing dimensions of gender, race, class, etc. manifest in music and pop culture, even though I lack the credentials, being a white middle-class male. Anyway, not a lot of people on here indulge these interests of mine (maybe they’re more honest with themselves about their lack of credentials), so it’s cool you did.

  9. “But we’re also lucky that last night had arguably the best halftime show since Prince tore it down a few years ago”

    thats funny because right after the halftime show was over my dad’s exact words were “that was the worst shit i’ve seen since prince!”

  10. I think her performance only looks great in comparison to the last two halftime shows (geezer-dance Madonna, and atrocious Black Eyed Peas). She danced/whipped her hair more than she sang. She kept asking the crowd “how y’all feelin?” and other such applause-baiting nonsense as if to say “see! i’m not lip-synching!”. I’m not saying it was a bad show, it was pretty cool looking. I just got kind of upset when The Who got badly panned a while back for singing a bit off-key. They played like The Who, what more do you want? It goes to show that if there’s choreographed dancing and flashing lights, America approves.

  11. OK, I’m going for it: Foo Fighters probably could and definitely should play the Super Bowl in the near future – Grohl’s still got name recognition from his Nirvana days to those trapped in the Top 40 black-hole, they have an amazing live show, are still relevant/still putting out music, and the network wouldn’t have to worry about anything Janet Jackson-esque happening with them, which is why I think artists like The Who and Bruce Springsteen were picked recently, to play it safe.

  12. I hope Burial plays the Super Bowl next year. Thom Yorke and Four Tet could come on stage for “Ego” and “Mirror.”

  13. Lets be really honest here, if The 20/20 Experience ends up being as good as we hope and sells as much as we think it will, Justin Timberlake is doing the Super Bowl next year.

  14. The halftime show made my peepee feel funny…

  15. NICE!
    She is very sexy


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