The Weeknd’s Halftime Show Explained: Theories and Decoding the Bandages, Mirrors

by Katie Maloney

So, what’s the deal with all the bandaged faces in The Weeknd’s Super Bowl Halftime Show?

For football fans who don’t really know The Weeknd, there may have been confusion as to why all his back-up dancers were wearing full-face bandaged masks. Dedicated The Weeknd fans had the same question but for different reasons. Fans have gotten used to seeing full-face bandages when The Weeknd appears on the scene. However, he is usually the one wearing the masks, not his dancers. It was an interesting (and intentional) decision to have his back-up dancers wear the masks instead of himself during his Super Bowl performance. Here’s everything you need to know about The Weeknd and his full-face bandages.

The Weeknd at the 2020 American Music Awards. (ABC via Getty Images)

What to Know About The Weeknd’s Face Bandages

For the past year, following the release of his album After Hours, The Weeknd has worn bandages over his face for every appearance and performance he’s made. He started with a bandaged nose in January 2020 on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The bandages progressed for his appearance on Saturday Night Live in March. By the time he got to the American Music Awards in November, his entire face was bandaged to look as if he just got out of plastic surgery. But why? He recently revealed that he’s been playing a character. Fans can follow the character in every music video he releases for his After Hours album. Since the release of the album, he’s stayed in character for every appearance he’s made. During his songs and music videos, the character goes through a never-ending cycle of high-speed car chases, anonymous hook-ups, and violence. So, the bandages make sense.

However, there’s also a deeper meaning behind the bandages. During an interview before his Super Bowl performance, The Weeknd revealed that the get-up is a metaphor.

“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,” he said. “It’s all a progression. And we watch the character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on.”

Why Didn’t He Wear Bandages On His Face During The Super Bowl Performance?

The Weeknd didn’t elaborate on why his dancers wore the masks instead of him for the Super Bowl Halftime performance. However, some believe that it was his way of helping his dancers follow coronavirus safety protocols. He could still stick to the theme of the performance while helping his dancers wear protective face coverings. He also said that he cares more about the story behind a person than their looks.

“I suppose you could take that being attractive isn’t important to me but a compelling narrative is,” he said.

Certainly, a compelling story is important to The Weeknd. He proved this when he contributed $7 million of his own money for the Super Bowl Halftime show. The Super Bowl usually pays for the costs of the performance. However, he said that he wanted the performance to be a “cinematic experience.”

“We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience. And we want to do that with the Super Bowl,” said The Weeknd.

The Weeknd performs the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

More Symbolism From His Super Bowl Performance

If you still haven’t had enough metaphors yet, we’ve got more!

According to fan theories, The Weeknd even structured his halftime performance to match the story he weaves through his album and music videos. He starts the show in front of a choir representing his character as an innocent, star-struck new performer. We then see him enter a room of mirrors and bright lights during which he begins spinning around. This represents the way his character becomes blinded by the lights of fame. Soon, the masked backup dances run into the room and begin pushing The Weeknd around. This signifies the ways his character has changed himself both physically (plastic surgery) and in personality in order to fit Hollywood standards. The Weeknd escapes the room and is shown on top of the world. Despite sacrificing his own identity, his character is happy with the fame he achieves as a result. That is, until the different versions of himself that he’s manifested get out of control and begin surrounding him. In the end, he is swallowed up by the different versions he’s created and then spit out while his past identities lie dead around him.

If that’s not an epic Super Bowl performance, we don’t know what is. What’s even more impressive is that this isn’t a one-off performance. The Weeknd has been building this story for months and the Super Bowl Halftime performance was the grand finale. It kinda puts Tom Brady’s gameday prep to shame.

Watch the full performance now and follow along with The Weeknd’s storyline.

The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show.