I love Beyoncé. I will illustrate this by relating the following anecdote: about a year ago I had the pleasure of attending the official premiere of Beyoncé’s Live At Roseland DVD in New York City, and when a very pregnant Bey stepped out onto the red carpet I immediately burst into tears. I continued to cry the entire way through the screening, and then a little bit when I got home.
I am a little bit ashamed of myself (as a grown woman crying over a pop star), but also and more importantly I saw pregnant Beyoncé in the flesh and I don’t care what you think because it was the best and she is the best and shut up.
Beyoncé is a lot of wonderful things. She’s a mother (hopefully a good one), a humanitarian, and a strong, powerful woman in charge of a rapidly expanding empire. She’s a role model and an activist, and seems like a kind hearted character. She’s an amazing dancer, a tireless worker, and a perfectionist. She’s responsible for some of the best pop music of this generation, and I believe that music will stand up over time so that one day my kids will be dancing to “Crazy In Love” the way I dance to Bowie. She’s pretty damn inspiring.
But is she fake?
Beyoncé’s led a notoriously candid life, managing to keep her profile largely free of any personal drama. From her famously furtive wedding to Jay-Z to her squeaky clean public image, Beyoncé’s had nary a drunken photo snapped by lecherous paparazzi. But here’s the thing; with her pop star peers like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Lady Gaga opening up their lives on a sincerely personal level to their fans through social media, the demand for transparency and accessibility to idolised celebrities is growing.
Whether Lady Gaga is publicly blogging about her struggle with eating disorder, or Miley Cyrus is posting “selfies” of her latest hair-do on Twitter, there’s a very clear shift happening in the way that we, the public, are able to interact with our favorite stars; they are essentially giving us enough of their “every day” personality that we’re able to feel like we’re collectively getting to know them. Because Beyoncé isn’t an idiot, she recogonised this, and has jumped on the bare-all bandwagon. Except that I think Beyoncé missed the point of share time.
In an attempt to “connect” with fans, by opening up a part of her life previously kept tightly under wraps, Beyoncé started a Tumblr which is regularly updated with tour photos, travel pictures and images of Beyoncé enjoying her “down time.” Well, I’m calling shenanigans on the whole thing.
I do not believe that celebrities have any duty to share anything they don’t want to share with the public. They’re just people (pardon the cliche), and are entitled to whatever level of privacy they believe is right for them. What bothers me about Beyoncé’s “real” world is that it’s nothing more than a perfectly curated editorial. It’s one thing to be private; it’s another thing entirely to try and pass off a gorgeously stylised fantasy as reality.
Every single one of Beyoncé’s “natural” photos is completely un-natural. Obviously shot by someone with impeccable photography skills, many of the images seem like they may have met the heavy hand of post production, at the very least for some obvious color correction. Beyoncé never shows a bad angle, is constantly in picturesque locations, wearing glamorous outfits and surrounded by beautiful people. Does the woman never wear stained tracksuit pants, get baby spit up on her, walk down an ordinary sidewalk or look tired or apathetic (her exclusive expression seems to be “delighted”)?
I understand that Beyoncé’s life is probably a fantasy for the post part, and that most of this imagery we see is just what she experiences through her career, but I’m not convinced that the bubble she lets us peer into is an entirely accurate reflection of something organic or true. Again, Beyoncé can post whatever she wants online; just don’t try and tell me that it’s “real”.
The key word with Beyoncé is “control”. Beyoncé is in complete control of the most seemingly inconsequential minutia of her life, which in this case, translates to an impeccably romantic vision of her day-to-day. Part of me admires her so much for this, because Beyoncé is a woman who tells you what to think of her. You don’t get to decide how you see her; she’s writing the story of your perception and you probably don’t even know it. If you want to get really psychoanalytical about it, Beyoncé is reversing the gaze. But it’s even more than that; Beyoncé is redefining the gaze. On some levels, what she’s doing is the boldest, most exciting thing a woman can do: she’s defining herself. And she’s not compromising for anyone, or allowing anyone to compromise her.
But Beyoncé’s persona grapples with a glaring contradiction; she’s defiantly serving what she wants you to eat and telling you it’s something she just knocked up herself in the kitchen just a minute ago, but in reality there’s an army of chefs behind the scenes, making sure every single ingredient is inserted at just the right time to ensure that your visceral experience is truly breathtaking.
But who knows? Maybe this is the real Beyoncé. Maybe the real Beyoncé is just a cheesy as fuck asshole.
[images via i am beyonce]