The Weeknd’s Sunday Performance

By: Lyle Alenstein and Talia Fante

Super Bowl halftime performer The Weeknd decided to undergo a facial transformation to get reactions from his fans and convey a message. This message started months ago, actually, when the music video for the song “Save Your Tears,”  showed him with the bloody bandages on his face. The mummy-style bandages seemingly told a story of what the face of his character looked like post-surgery. The Super Bowl performer aimed to create a cinematic, ominous and strange new world through his new facial get-up. The Weeknd’s inspiration for the stunt came from the film Fear and Loathing in Vegas, in which the main character often hallucinates and spirals out of control. He seemed to be comparing fandom to an unsettling loss of privacy and how celebrities change their features for the fans, and it makes them vulnerable. He acknowledges the pressure that celebrities face trying to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. This was a way for the Weeknd to enable his fans to reflect on the relevance of the appearance of their idols. 

Despite the Weeknd’s recent facial changes, his halftime show at the Super Bowl this February  delivered a different take from the typical halftime performance. This, in turn, led to the game’s millions of viewers talking about the show rather than the game, also due to the fact that  there was not much to talk about as the Buccaneers wiped the floor with the Chiefs. The Weeknd hit the 2021 Pepsi Halftime Show with a 44-pound, sparkly red Givenchy jacket embroidered by Matthew Williams. Williams said, “We wanted the look to feature the boldness of his character and reflect his great stage presence, as well as convey how skilled the Givenchy ateliers are for tailoring.” The Weeknd opened with “Call Out My Name,” which was followed by “Starboy,” “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face, “I Feel it Coming,” “Save Your Tears,” “Earned it,” and “House of Balloons.” He ended the performance with everybody’’s favorite banger of “Blinding Lights.” The Weeknd’s amazing vocals were put on display, but the internet still managed to troll him once he was shown in a dimly lit room with his army of red-suited and faced bandaged doppelgängers. The joke of “Can’t Feel my Face” was duly noted as the blinding lights (no pun intended) and crazy zoom effects took the internet meme lords by storm. With all that said, the Weekend’s performance was certainly more entertaining than the game. 

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