QUESTION OF THE CENTURY: Does Beyoncé matter?
MY IMMEDIATE ANSWER: Of course she does. She’s Beyoncé after all.
Call me biased (because I am) but I have a strong belief that Beyoncé is the embodiment of a strong-willed, strong-minded female, and not just because she is a celebrity with a massive social reach and influence. She is a symbol of hope for many women (especially those of colour), who still feel that their rights and voices are being mistreated or ignored in various areas of their lives.
Not being taken seriously is still an issue for many women who feel that they are being squashed by the (still) prevalent population of misogynistic men.
Needless to say, there are still many social and economic differences between men and women.
Take the wage gap between genders for example. It is a can of worms which has been opened several times in the past couple of years and has initiated many fiery conversations about how the issue has or has not been addressed. I do however acknowledge that this particular can of worms is seen as a difference in leadership roles and the industries in which males and females are predominately situated in.
So what does Beyoncé have to do with it all? And why does she matter in this day and age of media and the blurred lines between popular and high culture?
If you haven’t been living under a rock (or maybe you choose to ignore Beyoncé’s social reach altogether, that’s cool too), you would have at some point heard, seen or been exposed to the release of Beyoncé’s most recent and most controversial album Lemonade.
Lemonade can be as viewed as a medium for both popular and high culture, with her art form blurring the lines between this cultural divide, and ‘white privilege.’ Although it does have heavy themes of infidelity, love, and sex, it is also has strong connotations of the suppressed freedom of black women, particularly in the songs ‘Formation’ and ‘Freedom.’ The artistic approach shared in her visual album furthers this concept, with a number of her videos containing a cast of strong, powerful and influential black females (such as Winnie Harlow, Serena Williams and Zendaya), depicting a “I am a woman, hear me roar” tone.
She is seen ultimately seen as a voice for those who don’t always have a voice. This is why she is a significant figure in this day and age.
However, some audiences are saying that her Superbowl 2016 halftime performance, which features a host of all female, all black dancers, is “anti-cop” because of its evocation of the Black Lives Matter movement. If it were the other way around, no one would bat an eye, but due to the fact that Beyoncé is essentially embracing the colour of her skin, it is a source for outrage (doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense, right?)
“You may just be a black Bill Gates in the making,” are lyrics in her song ‘Formation,’ portraying that black women can be, and are successful. So why is this such a big deal for a black woman to support her own identity the way we often do?
I’ll let you be the decider.