Beyoncé beyonce’d all of us again Saturday by releasing Formation, a new single and music video that is reported to be part of her Super Bowl half-time appearance.
In short, Formation is a powerful black pride anthem. The song advocates for pride in black beauty standards and the clip features Blue Ivy (Beyoncé’s daughter) rocking an afro. The video condemns police brutality towards African-Americans with powerful imagery and also takes on the unfair handling of the victims of Katrina.
As it turns out, some of the footage from the video is not original.
Beyoncé has sent a powerful message that relate very much to blackness as an identity and she has received massive amount of praise on social networks for it. But there is one thing about her clip that’s disappointing.
As it turns out, some of the footage from the video is not original. It belongs to a documentary called That B.E.A.T., directed by Abteen Beghari and Christopher Black. The documentary showcases the bounce music culture of the city of New Orleans and highlights how this culture has connected hip hop and gay identities.
Creativity has always been a powerful tool against oppression.
Beghari, an Iranian-born director is not unfamiliar with the hip-hop industry: he was the director to ASAP Rocky’s Peso video. The documentary was part of the South By South West film festival collection in 2014.
As things heat up on Twitter, the director of Formation took to her own account to give a special mention to the two directors. But it isn’t enough. Creativity has always been a powerful tool against oppression, not only as a way to liberate expression but also as a way to gain economic freedom.
By making someone else’s work pass as her own, she contradicts her own lyrics: ‘I dream it, I work hard’.
As a business woman, as an entertainment moghul, Beyoncé is and will always remain an icon, but what message does she and her team send by appropriating the content of others without sharing the profit?
Beyoncé has worked hard for what she has done and everyone who has followed her career knows that she doesn’t merely drop hits out of the blue: she is, as she states a ‘Black Bill Gates’ in the making. For her to embrace her black identity so publicly and be so unapologetic about it is also very significant. By making someone else’s work pass as her own, she contradicts her own lyrics: ‘I dream it, I work hard’.
The rights did not belong to the directors who have claimed the video as their own, so Parkwood Entertainment (Beyoncé’s company) is in the clear, legally speaking. The video features original content which constitute in most of the message that Beyoncé is sending out to America (‘Stop shooting us’). But Bey seems to be passing as someone who reaps the benefits from speaking out about blackness. This could have been avoided by acknowledging the original content creators.