the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Lucy Jones ’21
On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7, Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as “The Weeknd” performed during the halftime show. The performance gained more attention than usual due to its criticism by a lot of viewers. Although there was no political commentary included in the show, many took to social media to look for a general opinion. Using Instagram story polls, TikTok videos, and Twitter, many social media users saw that no one could come up with a collective consensus of how the performance was. Many (like myself), however, really enjoyed the show and found that it was not only entertaining and creative but a good distraction from the world’s issues that surround us every day.
For many who are confused about The Weeknd’s performance at the halftime show, a lot can be explained with his work in the past year. Back in August, Tesfaye performed at the MTV Music Awards with special effects makeup that made him look beat up, and then in November, he attended the American Music Awards with a cast on his face, similar to the ones worn by the backup performers at the halftime show. Last month in his music video for his song Save Your Tears, he again wore special effects makeup to make it seem as though he had gotten plastic surgery. In all three of these performances, he wore the same red bedazzled suit that he also wore at the halftime show. The performance itself is supposed to represent the life of a young star, much like his own life, and the pain and torture that happens through the attainment of stardom. At the beginning of the show, he presents himself as an innocent singer chasing his dreams, then the audience sees him in a hall of mirrors while he sings about being blinded by the lights. During that same song, we see the introduction of the masked backup dancers who are supposed to represent different versions of himself with plastic surgery trying to conform to the “look” of Hollywood. During the middle of the show, he appears to be at the top of the world, overlooking the Tampa stadium, but he quickly is moved to the field where he is surrounded by a large crowd of the same masked dancers. By the end of the performance, he and the dancers begin to dance in a chaotic fashion until they all collapse at the end. Given the context of his performances over these past several months in addition to his halftime show performance, it is clear that The Weeknd’s show is better understood if the audience understands the true message that he is trying to portray.
On social media, Tesfaye’s message was explained, yet a large number of people still disapproved of the show. Whether it was because of the concern of the COVID-19 pandemic or the fact that viewers generally disliked the show, it is still a noteworthy performance that has an important message of stardom behind it.