This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

From Bandannas to Berets: A Critical Analysis of Beyoncé’s “Formation” Music Video




James, Kesha

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


The release of Beyoncé’s “Formation” music video as well as her debut performance of the song at the 2016 Super Bowl has incited debate and controversy across the United States. While some feel empowered and prideful, others are angered and outraged by the lyrical and visual messages Beyoncé communicates in this mediated text. Applying a critical/cultural studies perspective lens, this study explains how Beyoncé challenges the sexist and racist dominant ideology in the United States. Critically analyzing the visual and lyrical composition of “Formation,” this analysis interrogates the messages of both race and gender as well as the representation of Black Women. The findings indicate a direct challenge to white androcentric power as the visuals and lyrics re-appropriate stereotypical images of Black Women, thus demonstrating Black Women’s power and dominance in society. The implications of explaining the ways in which Beyoncé communicates what and how it means to be a Black Woman in “Formation” inform and explain the social, political, and economic reality of Black Women in the United States today, as mediated texts re-present everyday reality.