“This is the question of the night. I love it,” Melissa Harris-Perry told Vulture when we asked her what she thought of the cultural event of the weekend — Beyoncé’s surprise-drop of “Formation.” We spoke with the MSNBC host at the ImageNation Cinema Foundation’s Revolution Awards, where she was being fêted. “It was a really useful intervention in that she draws a link between this moment’s Black Lives Matter movement and a decade ago with Hurricane Katrina.” She added, “This is like my Hamilton!”
“The lyrics are about black-girl bravado over and against black loss and agony,” said Harris-Perry. “When I think about the front lines of Ferguson, here are young, women activists who are out there facing tear gas but who are also wearing lashes and are fierce as hell — all of that at the same time. I’ve watched it 35 times, and I keep finding something new in it every time.”
Of course, there has been an inevitable conservative backlash to the video, but Harris-Perry thinks that’s empowering, too. “She’s got her own line on it, right — You know you’re that [bitch] when you cause all this conversation,’” she quoted. “And the idea that there’s a backlash against it is quite fascinating and really empowering, [because] she feels like she is significantly empowered that she can absorb backlash. I mean, she stands there for an uncomfortable long period of time with both middle fingers up. So she’s thinking back to the backlash before it even happens.”
That’s right, haters — Beyoncé saw you coming, and she responded before you even got to the end of the video.