A particularly philosophical commenter said, “One must imagine the Weeknd happy.”
Photo by Jack Yang
Grammy award-winning Canadian singer The Weeknd has been praised recently for his thought-provoking performance at the 2021 Super Bowl on February 7. Commended by critics for “voicing the narrative that society needs to hear,” The Weeknd presented an insightful take on the struggles and tribulations facing people around the world.
The Weeknd’s jaw-dropping production kicked off with a slow pan of a Vegas-inspired cardboard-cutout cityscape, featuring himself seated in a moody black convertible. “This scene unquestionably symbolized how things that happen in Vegas are almost supernaturally contained to the so-called ‘Sin City,’” said one reviewer. The Weeknd remarked in an exclusive interview: “The neon signs and flashing billboards in that city are just so damn bright. I went there once and I said, ‘Ooh, I’m blinded by the lights.’”
Similarly, viewers of the performance were dazed by the dizzyingly profound hall-of-mirrors scene. Regarding this segment, The Weeknd stated, “I really like how sometimes when you look up at a disco ball, you can see your face in all those little mirrors. Isn’t music just a hundred little reflections of your inner being?” Super Bowl spectator Mila Everetts commented, “Yeah, watching him spin in circles like that in a super claustrophobic room made me want to puke, but kind of in a poetic way, you know? With all the spinning we’re doing between the money-grabbing tactics of capitalist institutions and a rapidly decaying governmental structure, society also makes me want to puke.”
Everetts also appreciated the robot-choir-turned-human-chorale-turned-string-orchestra during the second segment of The Weeknd’s performance. “Aren’t we all just robots harmonizing to the slow drone of a meaningless existence?” Everetts asked. “To see myself on that stage transformed into an actual human being — and one that could play violin — it gave me hope that we could humanize our monotonous existence and transcend the expectations that anchor us down.” In response to this scene, The Weeknd commented that “There’s a difference between living and experiencing, you know? And society wants us to just live these moments, not experience them. So I’m supposed to drone about how I love it when you touch me, not feel me, but feeling is what I need to do. That’s the real me.”
The most applauded moment of the twelve minute performance was when hundreds of men in red coats flooded the field wearing face-masks reminiscent of a bandage/jock-strap combination. Critics were astonished by the “intensely philosophical” dance, as these men meandered around the field, “clearly representing the struggles of the common folk, muzzled by society’s expectations of them but clearly wishing to break free.” Everetts commented, “It felt so appropriate to watch hundreds of masked figures collapse, as if dead, at the end of the performance. It’s just such an appropriate way to honor the pandemic that’s been challenging us all. I especially appreciated how there didn’t seem to be any women in the entire performance. Isn’t that just another metaphor about how women aren’t allowed to do anything? Speak their minds, dance with The Weeknd — even metaphorically die at the hands of COVID? I commend the daring creative choices made by the show, for sure.” The Weeknd had a secondary explanation for the masked dancers as well. “They symbolize how I can’t feel my face when I’m with you,” he said, clearly enthused, “but I love it.”
“All considered, the performance will certainly go down in history for it’s roof-shattering message,” said Everetts. “While some Super Bowl performances have had shallow messages such as empowerment, hope, or remembrance of those who have passed, The Weeknd’s central message for the show was, ‘Have fun.’” Spectators around the world will surely take that to heart as they consider how to address personal safety while restrictions are lifted in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. “The Weeknd put on a critically important performance that subverted expectations, aweing viewers and critics alike with its profound intensity and idealism,” claimed Everetts.
When Gage is not pondering time and relativity, she is busy spreading kindness and laughter, not only through sharing sushi with her friends, but also by making fun of the human condition and our shared experiences. In an ideal world, Gage and her cat would be battling mean people and making the world a brighter place.