While watching The Weeknd’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, viewers may have wondered why the artist’s backup dancers sported white bandaged faces.
In addition to bandages, if you look at close-ups of their faces, you’ll also see high-grade medical masks, likely added as a COVID-19 precaution. Those masks added to the jockstrap and horror-movie mask comparisons by social media users in the wake of the performance.
But the bandaged dancers, who first popped out at the chorus of “Can’t Feel My Face,” were actually meant to continue a dark storyline from the Weeknd’s “After Hours” album.
“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, told Variety ahead of his halftime show.
The Weeknd previously raised eyebrows when he accepted the award for favorite soul R&B song for “Heartless” at the American Music Awards on Nov. 22, 2020. He appeared on stage looking like he’d come from plastic surgery, with a face bandage get-up similar to the ones his dancers would wear at the Super Bowl. His suit and gloves were also a match for the dancers’ apparel.
The Weeknd himself ditched the bandages and his prosthetic-enhanced face from his music video for “Save Your Tears” in favor of his real appearance during his Super Bowl show, which received mixed reviews overall.
Deep song themes and bandaged faces aside, Super Bowl watchers had fun with other memes about The Weeknd’s performance. Like his dizzying spin through a hall of mirrors, which Twitter user Ashley White tweeted reminded her of “my camera roll when I take my iPad back from a toddler.”
my camera roll when I take my iPad back from a toddler pic.twitter.com/g0OqJLFpPH
— 𝑨𝒔𝒉𝒍𝒆𝒚 𝑾𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒆 | 𝑬𝒔𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒏 (@skinclasshero) February 8, 2021
You can watch the whole performance again on the NFL’s YouTube channel.
Did you know about The Weeknd’s “After Hours” storyline connection to his masked dancers?