For all those who've called for a widespread Beyoncé boycott, someone very important has heard your call: Beyoncé, herself. If you didn't think the Lemonade singer had a sense of humor about her persona, think again, because she was selling "Boycott Beyoncé" merch at the Formation Tour kick-off in Miami, Florida. Yass, Queen. Beyoncé knows not everyone wants to bow down, and she's calling them out for it — on her own tour. Some haters may buy themselves one of these $45 T-shirts and ultimately go against all that they believe. But, from the looks of Twitter last night, the Beyhive is going to snatch up most of these and ironically wear them until the threading starts to give and the shirt literally falls apart. But, as funny as this shirt may be, the joke is really on Beyoncé's haters. This merch is more than a catchy slogan; it's her calling these critics' bluffs.
After Beyoncé performed "Formation" during the Super Bowl halftime show this year — as a special guest of Coldplay's, none the less — the backlash came quick, with The Daily Beast writing that her performance caused Fox News and the conservative media to "lose their minds." A host on Fox & Friends said he couldn't tell what she was saying throughout the song, but "at the end, we find out Beyoncé dressed up in a tribute to the Black Panthers, went to a Malcolm X formation. And the song, the lyrics, which I couldn’t make out a syllable, were basically telling cops to stop shooting blacks!”
On the same show, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani would complain that Beyoncé's performance wasn't right for the biggest football game of the year and called for "decent, wholesome entertainment" during the halftime show. "I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive," Giuliani said. "And what we should be doing in the African-American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers.”
While football fans were swearing that they would protest in front of the NFL's headquarters in New York City after saying her Super Bowl performance was her "pulling a race-baiting stunt," police unions were calling for a boycott of her world tour after they claimed her "Formation" video was anti-cop. The Miami Fraternal Order Of Police released a statement urging police officers to refuse to work when she came to town because she wanted to "divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers.”
But it's Beyoncé who has gotten the last laugh through it all. As New York Magazine reported, all two of those angry football fans who showed up at NFL headquarters were greeted by the Beygency, who were happy to spread the Gospel of Bey. Her concert in Miami last night was fully staffed by security. See, those boycott t-shirts are funny, because the boycotts against her never seem to work. They just become pro-Beyoncé rallies. It's also why those "Boycott Beyoncé" shirts seem like a clever way to get everyone asking, "Why do you want to boycott Beyoncé anyway?"
Is it because you believe she is anti-cop, even though Beyoncé refuted this in a rare interview with Elle, "I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe?" Or is it underlying racism that causes these boycotters — most of whom are white males — to get angry over a black women speaking her mind so publicly and knowing people agree with her liberal views of the world? In that same Elle interview, Beyoncé did imply there was a reason why people were coming after her. "But let's be clear," she said. "I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me." Drop the mic, Beyoncé is getting real.
In this interview, it was clear that "Formation" was just hint of what was to come, that she understood that Lemonade was likely going to irk these same critics who had accused her of being anti-cop or using a popular political and social movement as a way to sell albums so she was putting a stop to it real quick. But, "Formation" was a song about slaying her haters, and those haters don't seem to understand that about the song. As if she didn't do that on purpose to get a rise out of them. For those who have taken her songs and tried to spin them into something evil, she's done them one better by taking their boycott cries and using them to poke fun and make a little money. No surprise really, being that, on "Formation," Beyoncé makes it clear, "Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper."
If "Formation" wasn't already a middle finger to anyone who criticizes her for speaking her mind, this merch is definitely a two middle finger salute to let you know she's listening, but she's got more important things to do than quell your fears. Basically, stop interrupting her grinding, she's got a tour to put on. But, you know, buy a shirt if you want.