A whole bunch of Twitter eggs took offense with Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance of “Formation,” which used imagery inspired by the Black Panthers. It made excellent copy for the insatiable content mill which we all must feed—it’s good and healthy to make fun of stupid people—but it didn’t have staying power. If only there was a way to drag the controversy out for another week? Enter today’s non-existent protest, which for the purposes of metaoutrage, is every bit as good as a real protest.
A few days after the game, an event popped up on Eventbrite, scheduled for 8 a.m. today outside NFL headquarters in New York.
Are you offended as an American that Beyoncé pulled her race-baiting stunt at the Superbowl?
Do you agree that it was a slap in the face to law enforcement?
Do you agree that the Black Panthers was/is a hate group which should not be glorified?
Come and let’s stand together. Let’s tell the NFL we don’t want hate speech & racism at the Superbowl ever again!
Manna from heaven. Just about every blog and newspaper you can think of covered the impending rally. Eyes were rolled. Affronts were taken. A counter-rally was organized. Thinkpieces were thoughtpieced. And just about no one stopped to consider that there was no reason to believe there was an actual anti-Beyoncé rally planned.
It is an incredible leap from “Eventbrite page created” to “rally planned.” Eventbrite requires only a free, anonymous form sign-up, giving it all the legitimacy of a prank Wikipedia edit. Even a Change.org petition carries more heft, because people have to actually sign it.
The original rally announcement was totally unsourced—only a few days ago was it retroactively credited to “Proud of the Blues,” a pro-police group with exactly zero web presence. The group now has a ramshackle website, a Twitter page, and a Facebook page, all created within the last couple of days. There’s no reason to think this group existed before last week, and there’s no reason to think it exists now.
I saw only one article expressing skepticism about the group and the rally, a Daily Beast piece in which the authors tried and failed to get comment from the organizers, and noted that the whole thing could have been arranged without so much as a credit card or working email address.
Every other outlet was more than happy, for business reasons, to announce that the anti-Beyoncé rally was real, and happening, and preposterous. Any more preposterous than the hordes of reporters standing out in the rain right now waiting for phantom reactionaries?