Just in time to add fuel to the Ferguson fire, superstar singer Beyoncé has re-released a video for her dirge-like, 2013 single “Superpower,” in which she makes rioting against law enforcement look hip and romantic.
The overlong video opens with an image of the Black Power fist – a hint of things to come. Then the camera finds Beyoncé striding in super slo-mo down a stretch of urban Los Angeles devastation in a flesh-baring outfit that is difficult to describe; suffice it to say that, like too much fashion today, it is runway-fabulous but no one would wear it outside of a Beyoncé video. The salient point is that her getup inexplicably pairs this semi-nudity with a niqab, which she draws up over her face, exposing only her eyes.
This apparently displeased some Muslims. Twitter lit up with complaints such as, “Dear Beyoncé: Do you think you’re going to get away with wearing a version of Islamic head-dress, niqab, while promoting your Demonic music?” Another tweet: “Quoting our holy Quran and dressing in a niqab isn’t a fashion statement you dumb beyonce.” In the video’s context, it’s possible that Beyoncé intended for the look to be more Occupy Wall Street than Islamic. Or perhaps she was wearing a niqab to make Muslim head coverings sexier and more culturally acceptable. If so, it failed to convince at least one feminist, who lashed out on Twitter: “Sorry, Beyonce. Probably not in the best interest for women’s rights to make the niqab fashionable. Just sayin’.”
Back to the video. Beyoncé is gradually joined by a growing crowd of chic, wannabe revolutionaries sporting edgy hairstyles and clothing that looks like a privileged designer’s ridiculous fantasy of how urban youth dress. Some of them conceal their identities with gas masks and scarves, Occupy-style, because they know they’re about to commit crimes.
The dirge drags on as Beyoncé pouts, scowls, and growls. Her mob smashes car windows with baseball bats, hurls Molotov cocktails, and burns cop cars while Beyoncé sings: “The laws of the world never stopped us once/’Cause together we got plenty super power.” Except for the music and the ultrachic posturing, it suggests the real-life “sensitive urban zones” of Paris, where immigrant “youth” go on nightly, car-immolating rampages and challenge the police in territorial skirmishes.
As the song draws mercifully to a close, the privileged Beyoncé – having peeled off the niqab and donned a camouflage jacket that costs probably $3000 – faces off with her defiant, multicultural mob of chiseled cheekbones against a line of cops in riot gear. She stands next to a man in a balaclava reminiscent of her niqab. The two of them clasp hands Thelma and Louise-style in anticipation of the confrontation to come. The message: rioting, property destruction, anarchy, and attacking cops are cool – and nothing influences youth more than the aura of cool.
Who cares, you ask? She’s just another left-leaning celebrity exposing her own political ignorance. Why is her video important? It’s important because Beyoncé is arguably the biggest entertainer in the world now. With over 118 million albums sold, she is the top artist of the 2000s, with 17 Grammy awards, a Golden Globe nomination, and untold millions of fans worldwide. Her pop culture influence is incalculable, and pop culture – not politics – is where the progressive control takes root. When Beyoncé weighs in on an issue like the Ferguson tinderbox, her fans absorb the message and pump their fists along with her.
The video was actually first released last December, long before the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Why would Beyoncé believe that this is an appropriate time to put it back in the public eye?
Keep in mind that she is married to rapper Jay-Z, who has none of Beyoncé’s talent but all of her racial supremacism and political radicalism.* His song lyrics are replete with profanity, racial slurs, misogyny, glorification of violence, and expressions of racial grievance – not to mention anti-police hatred. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” boasts of giving “a middle finger to the law.” A music video titled “No Church in the Wild,” which “Superpower” resembles, celebrates anarchy and depicts police trying to quell a violent riot. And “99 Problems” features a verse about blacks being racially profiled by the “motherfu**ing law.” In 2009 he released a song in honor of the newly-elected Obama entitled “My President is Black” (imagine if a country singer back in 2005 had performed a song called “My President is White”). The massively wealthy Jay-Z (he and his wife have a net worth of $1 billion) has also been a supporter, or at least an exploiter, of the Occupy movement.
The two are arguably Obama’s closest, and certainly most famous, friends in the entertainment industry. MTV even described their relationship with the President as “a mutual affection society” and Jay-Z’s friendship with him a “bromance.” In September 2012, Jay-Z and Beyoncé hosted a $40,000-per-person fundraisingreception which took in more than $4 million for Obama’s re-election campaign. Subsequently the dynamic duo were given State Department permission for a grand, whitewashed tour of the Communist utopia in Cuba, where Jay-Z appeared wearing a Ché T-shirt (in solidarity with a murdering coward who held musicians and blacks in contempt).
Music entertainers have a long tradition of anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian lyrics aimed at a rebellious youth audience. I don’t expect Beyoncé to come out with a pro-police anthem or an ode to Darren Wilson. But to re-release a video that openly advocates violent conflict with the police at this time of heightened tension between blacks and law enforcement is irresponsible at best, and incitement to violence at worst. The fact that Beyoncé is so closely linked to the President of the United States makes it all the more unconscionable, albeit unsurprising, since the “post-racial” Obama, who urged protesters to “stay the course,” hasn’t lifted a finger to quell the violent animus over Ferguson.
* Some of what followed was excerpted and paraphrased from the Horowitz Freedom Center’s Discover the Networks resource site about Jay-Z.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 12/4/14)