May 17, 2022


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Super Bowl 2021: Thanks for the funny memes, the Weeknd

The bulk of the Weeknd’s halftime performance at Super Bowl LV took place beneath a giant screen at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., complete with strobe lights, fog machines, fireworks and rows and rows of backup dancers clad in sparkly red suit jackets.

But about four minutes into the show, the stage split in two, beckoning the Canadian artist into a light-filled labyrinth beneath the stadium’s bleachers. Looking lost, the Weeknd made his way through, singing “Can’t Feel My Face” as men with bandaged heads stumbled over one another, blocking his way.

Amid the delirium, the camera zoomed toward and away from the Weeknd. Ultimately, he made it out in just over a minute. But, by then, the world was already full of memes using the set he reportedly spent $7 million of his own money on.

Like the Rorschach test, the Weeknd’s performance sparked a wide array of memories. Some social media users recalled fumbling with technology or very particular moments from their youth. Others thought about office politics in academia or reminisced on their pre-pandemic lives. And some just felt that the Weeknd paid homage to the wonderful minutiae of everyday life, without which we won’t survive the ongoing quarantine.

Here are the best tweets reacting to his performance: