Super Bowl 50: The Hate Speech Halftime Show

The first Super Bowl took place following the 1966 season; of course, back then it was not the Super Bowl but the AFL-NFL Championship Game. It gained the name it’s so well known for thanks to Lamar Hunt, then-owner of what was then the AFL Kansas City Chiefs. The annual game was first created as a way for the AFL and NFL to meet on the playing field in the years leading up to a merger of the rival leagues. When it proved popular – and the name of “Super Bowl” stuck – the championship game continued. It’s traditionally played on the first Sunday in February and is, of course, perhaps the most-watched televised sporting event of each year. We know the Super Bowl for its commercials, its competition, and camaraderie. It’s a time for friendly rivalries and big parties, parties revolving around some rather spectacular food. It’s a good time for many Americans, even those who do not otherwise follow football. It’s a day based on the enjoyment of one another’s company, regardless of which team you’re cheering on.

There’s something else the Super Bowl is known for, and that is the half-time show. Over the years, a number of major celebrities have done their thing halfway through the game, but that isn’t how things started. The early games featured marching bands from various high schools and universities with themes such as 1969’s “America Thanks” and 1974’s “A Musical America.” In 1972, the theme was actually a tribute to Louis Armstrong; in 1976, a tribute to America’s bicentennial. Yes there were some performers alongside those marching bands, including Carol Channing and Ella Fitzgerald, but it was a far cry from the productions of today. In the 1980s, the move away from marching bands began and it did not take long for the focus to become the celebrity performers, and their accompanying show. Because that is what it became, a show. Not an interlude of music celebrating the times, but a show.

Those themes changed from celebrations of country to celebrations of genres of music. And then, in 2004, the themes began to take on a far more controlled, specific tone with Rock the Vote. In 2004 the performers were Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, and it was during this particular half-time show yet another change took place: nudity. Justin Timberlake uttered the words of his song “Rock Your Body” – “I’m going to have you naked by the end of this song” – and ripped off the tear-away material over Janet Jackson’s breast, revealing a decorative nipple shield and everything one would expect to go with it. After the nudity resulted in a fine and nationwide outrage, the performers backpedaled by claiming it had been a wardrobe malfunction rather than intentional exposure, but the die had been cast. Although the coordinators attempted their own backtrack into wholesomeness – Paul McCartney took center stage, fully clothed, the following year – it was too late. Because, you see, Nipplegate may have involved a fine and outrage but it also drove up viewer numbers incredibly. The network and the show on it made money, they did not lose it.

It’s no secret that creating controversy draws attention and therefore drives up numbers. Whether it’s a website, a television show, or an article in a magazine, numbers are everything. As the saying goes “there is no such thing as bad publicity”…or is there?

BeyonceSuper Bowl 50 began with much fanfare. Advertisements made much adieu of every tiny detail and the cost of a prized commercial slot was higher than ever. (For the very first Super Bowl that price was $37,500 for 30 seconds of airtime. In 2000, those same seconds cost $2 million. By 2016 the price of half a minute’s time during the most-watched sporting event of the year was $5 million, up $500,000 from the year before.) This was, after all, a real party: 50 years of Super Bowl games, and the celebration would be done right (and at great expense). For Super Bowl 50, the performer of choice was Coldplay with Bruno Mars and Beyonce as supporting acts. In the end, it wasn’t Coldplay everyone was talking about. It wasn’t Bruno Mars either, although he certainly played his so-called supporting role. It was Beyonce, who was there for her second Super Bowl act. This time the self-proclaimed Queen and King B did not come to sing. She came to send a message.

If you did not see the performance either in real-time or after the fact, here’s a summary: racist hate speech, dance-style. This might seem harsh but it is, sadly, reality. Beyonce chose to release the video for her new song “Formation” just prior to the game and it was proclaimed an immediate hit by many of her followers. When she performed the song at the Super Bowl, certain aspects that were blatant in the music video were missing, but the message remained the same. Her half-time show was an ode to Black Lives Matter, a call to the (Muslim) hate roots of Malcolm X, and her dancers were dressed like Black Panthers.

The Formation

During the song, Beyonce frequently calls for her ladies to get in formation, and that formation is simple: it’s an X, an X to symbolize Malcolm X. If you doubt the reason for the X, take a look at the music video. It’s not much of a leap to make even on the football field, though, not when taken as a whole. Here’s why Malcolm X is a problem.

Malcolm X has been lifted up for years as a symbol of fighting for one’s rights – if you’re black, that is. He has disturbingly been made equal, if not better than, Martin Luther King, Jr., by far too many people. Not all those people can claim to be uninformed, either. No, those who continue to speak his words and idolize his name and image cannot claim ignorance. That Malcolm X was anything but a man of peace is well-known, it’s simply swept under the carpet on a regular basis. Can’t have the kiddies figure out their hero is actually a Muslim racist with murderous intentions.

X FormationMalcolm Little – who the nation knows better as Malcolm X – did not mince words when it came to his preferred methods to fighting racism. He told his followers to do so “by any means necessary” and what many fail to admit is the fact that his ideas of what racism was to him varied rather wildly from what the average person understands to be racist. He wasn’t role model material by any means, either; when Little was young, he began his life as a robber before moving on to gambling and prostitution rings. After several arrests, he found himself in jail in 1946, picking up the nickname of “Satan” from inmates due to his habit of cursing God and the Bible. It was during his stint in jail he began to read and learned about the Nation of Islam. He took to the groups teachings immediately. Those beliefs included pushing black self-reliance and empowerment based on the idea that white people were and are nothing but “blue-eyed devils” created many years ago by evil scientists.

With the help of a fresh-from-prison Malcolm Little/X, the Nation of Islam gained popularity fast. The group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, saw the opportunity and made Little/X a minister. Little’s assignment? Establishing new mosques and bringing in new converts.

When Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech promoting not just equal rights but unity, Malcom Little/X labeled it the “Farce on Washington.” According to historians, Malcom X even spoke to members of the KKK at one point in an attempt to encourage segregation. And when he discovered Elijah Muhammad had done things he felt violated the Nation of Islam’s teachings, he began to pull away from the group. In 1963, he referred to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as the “chickens coming home to roost.” At that point, it was Muhammad who cut their ties, suspending Malcolm X from the group. By 1964, Malcolm X announced he was splitting away from the group entirely. Instead he converted to traditional Islam, taking on the name of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He did not bother to hide his distaste for Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, and it didn’t take long for the group to retaliate against his public criticisms. It was a case of two extremist Muslim viewpoints clashing not because they disagreed but because one man was being publicly open about their message of hate. It ended in bloodshed; in February of 1965, members of the Nation of Islam shot Malcolm X to death in front of a crowd which had gathered to hear him speak.

Fifty years later, Beyonce is apparently working to promote his message. But does she understand just how hateful and violent Malcom X’s message was and is? It seems she does, yes.

The Black Panthers

“Electoral politics was always an objective of the Black Panther Party, so Barack Obama is a part of what we dreamed and struggled and died for.” (Bobby Seale, Black Panther)

The Black Panthers and the Super Bowl do have something in common: an anniversary. The socialist organization – that would be the Black Panthers, not the football game – got its start in October of 1966. That puts the organization’s inception almost precisely at that of the Super Bowl, which makes 2016 the 50th anniversary for both. It even got its start in Oakland, California which is quite close to the spot where Super Bowl 50 took place.

Black PanthersThere tend to be two sides to the story of the Black Panthers’ history. Proponents of the group choose to highlight its community service. It is absolutely true the organization helped with community clinics and helped start the Free Breakfast for Children program, and it’s true they carried out armed patrols to keep locals safer. Of course, those armed patrols were actually carried out to fight back against law enforcement and what they felt was police brutality. As for the clinics, one of their focal points was actually a door-to-door blood testing service to test for sickle cell anemia. While sickle cell can occur in anyone, it is a condition occurring predominantly in those of African American descent; 75% of cases on a global level are found in Africa. The devil really is in the details. To say these were self-serving programs would be an understatement. It wasn’t and isn’t about bettering the community, it was all about black power. Violent black power.

“I think most people, when they think about the Black Panther Party, they think in very abstract, caricatured terms. They think about black fists in the air, but they don’t think about the actual people, and the families, and the relationships.” (Kerry Washington, actress)

In 1967 they published their Ten Point Program in the second issue of their magazine, The Black Panther:  Black Community News Service:

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the Capitalists of our Black Community.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
  5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

The above points should give you an idea what the group is all about, but it’s far more than these 10 items.

“We were like heroes, to stand there and observe the police, and the police were scared to move upon us.” (Bobby Seale, Black Panther)

In 1967, one of the Black Panther’s founding members, “Defense Minister” Huey Newton, was pulled over in a traffic stop by Oakland police officer John Frey. Frey requested backup and followed procedure by waiting for his backup to arrive before asking the two men to get out of their car. One of those men was Newton and he was accompanied by another member of the Black Panthers. The officers began talking to the two men at which point Newton drew a weapon and opened fire. Newton shot Frey in the chest, stomach, and leg and also shot the other officer in the chest. 23-year-old Officer Frey was killed. He was survived by a wife and daughter.

Huey Newton (right)
Huey Newton (right)

Huey Newton was portrayed by the Black Panthers and their supporters as an innocent victim, a victim of racial profiling and police brutality. Newton ended up getting off light with just three years in prison. He later got drunk and admitted he’d purposefully murdered Frey, an admission that does nothing to bring the officer back.

The Black Panthers have a long history of assaulting and murdering police officers. There are many examples, but for the sake of brevity we’ll stick to one. In 1968, a few of the organization’s members were involved in a shootout with police. During said shootout, a 17-year-old member, Bobby Hutton, was killed and another older member, Eldridge Cleaver, was wounded. The Black Panthers involved claimed to have been ambushed and Hutton’s death quickly became a rallying cry for their supporters. The fact that the organization ended up admitting Cleaver had actually led a group of members in an ambush on those police officers was largely ignored and Hutton continued and, in fact, continues to be seen as an innocent victim of police brutality.

They also hated – hate – anyone they suspected to be a police informant. In 1969, 19-year-old Black Panther Alex Rackley was suspected of being a police informant. Other Black Panthers tortured and murdered him. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover once called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” Hoover felt the radical organization had surpassed the Communist Party as a grave threat to our nation, and he was right.

Many today think of the Black Panthers as a dated issue from the 1960s, but it’s actually a current danger. They are still around today and are, in fact, quite active. They have not strayed from their violent roots, either. Following the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the New Black Panther Party offered a $1,000,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman – dead or alive, it did not matter to them. There was no denying the bounty, not considering it was videotaped and posted online.

“We’re saying to President Obama, you’ve gotta do your job on this one, buddy… So, white America, we have given you 400 years to get it right and you still have failed black people… And so today as black men, we must stand up. We must say to white America, time is up for you.” (Mikhail Muhammad, New Black Panther Party member)

During the 2008 presidential election, members of the New Black Panther Party participated in voter intimidation. The goal? Getting Barack Obama in office one more time. One member of the organization was a registered, credentialed poll watcher in Philadelphia and was caught shouting racial slurs and threatening voters. He was being helped by another Black Panther, and wielding a night stick. Complaints of intimidation were made across the country during the election. So what does Barack Obama have to do with the Black Panthers aside from being half black? Among other things, in 2007 in Selma, Alabama, Obama met with and marched with New Black Panther Party members.

The Black Panthers and New Black Panthers are easily identified by more than just their hate speech and desire for segregation. They have an easily-identified uniform of all black topped with black berets, berets worn at what they apparently believe to be a jaunty angle. Then there’s the motion they use to represent black power: right fist clenched and raised in the air, straight up, above their heads. Where have we seen these uniforms and those raised fists lately? That’s right, during the Super Bowl 50 half-time show, courtesy of Beyonce Knowles.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives MatterThis a movement most of you are already aware of thanks to its more recent inception. Black Lives Matter is an activist movement founded in 2013. Its goals are to fight back against violence carried out against black people (by white people). They specifically rally against police brutality against black people but also fight against racial inequality and racial profiling. While this may sound okay on the surface, it goes much deeper just as the Black Panthers’ violent roots always end up showing themselves.

Black Lives Matters is a fantastic example of the power of the internet. It actually got its start thanks to a hashtag: #blacklivesmatter. And in 2014, when Michael Brown was shot and killed, the movement exploded in violence with the results splashed across national television (Ferguson). While many would accurately state the movement has no official hierarchy or specific organization, it does not need one. Social media provides the perfect platform for advertising protests and riots. All it takes it one post to start a wildfire, one post to bring in angry, violent masses set on wreaking havoc – all in the name of #blacklivesmatter, of course.

The Song

“Beyoncé just dropped “Formation,” the most perfect song since the Paleozoic Era with an absolutely gorgeous, brilliant video to match. (Who is the director of this masterpiece and where is all their Oscars?!) (Update: The director is Melina Matsoukas! I repeat: Cancel the Oscars and just give them all to her.) Of course, since it’s Bey and she continues to evolve into an ~omnipresent, ethereal being~, the lyrics are next level in every sense of those two words. I gathered the best of the best into a tidy new doc because you’ll want to use these on all your social media profiles and T-shirts ASAP. *Refreshes Internet until I can buy an “I slay, OK” sweatshirt.*” (Laura Beck, Cosmopolitan.com, the magazine’s website)

Another poignant reference, which you’d miss if you didn’t truly pay attention, is the reference to slavery and oppression. If you take a look at the scenes with Beyonce and several men behind her standing on the porch in their suits, in connection with the scene of Beyonce in a corset holding the sun protecting umbrella, and sitting with the other women fanning themselves you’d understand the past reference.”

“And of course the huge reference of #BLACKLIVESMATTER using an innocent little boy in a hoodie, dancing, looking as adorable and unthreatening as most kids do, and with the lift of his hands commands the “cops” to do the same, with a quick glimpse of a marked wall that reads “STOP SHOOTING US”. Powerful!”

(theblackmedia.org on Beyonce’s new song “Formation”)

Back Up DancersBeyonce’s Super Bowl 50 half-time show was carried out to showcase her new song “Formation.” As mentioned before, her backup dancers were all dressed in “sexy” Black Panthers uniforms, jauntily tilted berets and all. They are also all black, something some may see as appropriate and others would see as a not-subtle stand against white Americans. But more on that later.

The lyrics to “Formation” make it clear Beyonce is proud of her African American heritage which is, in itself, admirable. There is, however, a difference between pride in one’s heritage and hatred of any race other than your own. What is that called, again? Oh, yes. Racism.

“Formation” gets the message across that police must stop victimizing black people, Malcolm X was a hero, the Black Lives Matter movement should be widely and staunchly supported, and that black heritage is above all others. The video itself clears up any confusion someone might have from hearing the lyrics alone. And, of course, the entire cast of the music video is black with one glaring exception: near the end a child is shown wearing a hoodie, dancing in front of a line of riot-gear clad police officers. The child is black. The police officers? They’re white. They’re the only white people in the entire thing. You can read the lyrics here and watch the video here although I hate to give this garbage more views.

The Performance

So how was this an appropriate performance for Super Bowl 50’s half-time show? It wasn’t. But Beyonce wanted to do it, so she did. She took what has historically been a celebration of this once-great nation and turned it into a platform for pro-black empowerment, anti-everyone else hate speech. She used half-time at the most-viewed sports event of the year to express her apparent distaste and disrespect for law enforcement officers. She did that despite having wanted and had a police escort to and from the Super Bowl. She is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Beyonce has become a symptom of what is wrong with the United States. Far too many Americans have become spoiled brats, whining and throwing temper tantrums when they feel they are not getting their way. Or when they simply want what they want, regardless of logic or reality. America has become a racially divided nation, and someone in particular has encouraged that divide: Barack Obama. Can Obama be held personally responsible for Beyonce’s performance? Of course not. It would be utterly preposterous to think people who are close friends and politically motivated for the same causes might discuss such things together…oh. Wait. Are the Obamas good friends with Beyonce and her husband? Yes, they are. It’s been made clear and just in case we had any doubts it was reaffirmed during the pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS This Morning with Gayle King.

Obama InterviewMichelle Obama appeared on the interview with King for the first time this year and her comments left no doubt as to her awareness of Beyonce’s planned performance. She admitted she’d carefully coordinated her outfit with the show: “I got dressed for the halftime show. I hope Beyonce likes what I’ve got on,” Michelle told King. Her outfit? An all-black ensemble.

In addition, Michelle Obama relayed her feelings regarding the upcoming performance by her friend Beyonce – or, as she calls the singer, Bey. She let King know in no uncertain terms: “I care deeply about the halftime show.” Then she paused for effect before repeating herself, putting serious emphasis on her next word: “Deeply.”

Unfortunately there is a segment of society who simply saw Beyonce’s performance as “cool” and see “Formation” as her next big hit. Sadly, it probably will be.

This is what we have come to. The biggest football game of the year is hijacked at half-time by a singer singing a song she wrote about how police are victimizing blacks and black people should fight back, and nothing happens. Sure, there’s some outrage here and there on social media, but let’s be honest. It won’t go beyond that. The damage has only begun and nothing will be done to halt its toxic progress.

If a white singer took to the football field and proclaimed white supremacy, what would happen? A national incident. The outrage would be swift, loud, and violent. Barack Obama would undoubtedly make a public statement with impressive speed. The very groups Beyonce is endorsing – Black Lives Matter, the Black Panthers – would march against whites and attack police officers (if the inclusion of attacks against law enforcement seems random, it isn’t; that is what these groups do). Of course, those groups are already doing that, and all with minimal – if any – repercussions.

This is not a matter of whites finally getting what they deserve or reaping what some ancestors sowed generations ago (even if it was, it would still be flat-out wrong). This is a matter of hate speech being not only endorsed but furthered by those in power. The current administration is encouraging a rift between races and celebrities do not hesitate to ram their beliefs down the public’s throat with hate-coated hands. In some ways it’s sad. In others it’s disappointing. In all ways it is disgusting and wrong.

Some on social media have attempted to battle the #blacklivesmatter movement with their own #alllivesmatter campaign. While their hearts are in the right place and their stance is just, their methods are doomed to failure. We are in crisis, and we are faced with a conundrum. How does one best combat hatred when hate is all the other side seems to understand? How does one fight back against racism when all your words and actions will be labeled racist despite reality?

This time there is no pat answer, no simple (or complex) solution.

We are a nation adrift. We are a nation at…

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
0 Shares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *