It’s bad enough to have Quentin Tarantino throwing shade at you when you’re a cop, but now the ultimate influencer, Beyoncé, is adding to the steady backlash against America’s number one oppressor, the po-lice. Her latest video for a single called “Formation”–the release of which was timed perfectly for her cameo at the Super Bowl halftime show on February 7th–brings some powerful visual imagery to the racially-driven problems surrounding our law enforcement.
Getting straight to the point, the video opens on Beyoncé sitting atop a sinking New Orleans police car amid an overflooded neighborhood (loosely making reference to Hurricane Katrina, one supposes). And yes, it is possible, apparently, to make a political statement while still singing lyrics like, “I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress.” Regardless of how little the actual content of the song pertains to anything of substance, the video more than makes up for it with disturbing images of Beyoncé channeling her version of American Horror Story: Coven in costumes that might even impress the likes of Marie Antoinette. And though she’s already been accused of ripping off footage from filmmakers Abteen Bagheri and Chris Black from their 2013 documentary, That B.E.A.T., at least she’s doing her best to raise awareness about rampant police brutality, not to mention further placing Blue Ivy in the limelight.
Directed by Melina Matsoukas, whose best music video is still arguably “We Found Love,” one scene in particular shows a young boy dancing in front of a line of shielded police, finally causing them to throw up their own hands in surrender as Matsoukas cuts to the graffito “stop shooting us.” To cinch the effect of what she’s saying, Bey allows herself to sink into the water while on the cop car (a scene one imagines she tried her best to do in one take) during the dramatic conclusion.
Apart from the near legislation-inducing nature of the video, Bey is liable to bring many fresh pairs of eyes to the grit and cultural specificity of New Orleans, which means the town ought to look out for further rent hikes à la Brooklyn.