I feel like I have to preface this with the fact that I’m not Beyoncé fan, I listen to her music and enjoy it but I do not think she is my queen or god so that puts me somewhere behind her regular fans. That and my dislike of pumpkin spice flavored anything basically makes me a bad American millennial but I can live with that.
I also have only listened/viewed the album once so this is first impression stuff and not a scholarly thesis but it ties into a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately.
First. Even Beyoncé. My first thought after viewing the visual album was, I hope all the women out there that have been cheated on will realize they’re not alone. I know men and women who have been cheated on or betrayed, whether physically or emotionally, and I’ve seen the damaging effects. The light goes out in people’s eyes when they realize the one thing they trusted and depended on is no longer as sure as they thought. I’ve seen the moments where they think, how could this happen to me?
I hope people can look at this and say, “Even Beyoncé got cheated on. If someone as ‘flawless’ and ‘god-like’ as Beyoncé can get cheated on, this isn’t happening because I’m not pretty enough/successful enough/etc. etc.” Not to make everyone paranoid, but anyone can wind up in a situation and a relationship they never thought they’d be in. We’re not perfect. The people around us aren’t perfect. No amount of trying to make ourselves perfect will change a relationship. And also not everyone is living the life they lead us to believe they are living.
Second. Stop telling females what feminism is. Beyoncé used to be synonymous with feminism for everyone and now people are going around saying she’s not a feminist because of things she may or may not be doing in her marriage. This is interesting to me because I am a believer that vulnerability is what makes us strong (just go Google Brene Brown) so this album meant more to me as a female observer than her dancing with the word “FEMINISM” behind her. It seems really hard to be a feminist in today’s pop culture if you’re not physically strong, sexy, and blowing men’s heads off with a gun. I love that women have feelings. I love that humans are vulnerable. Beyoncé was brave to release this story knowing the whole world would be picking it apart. Please go read/watch/listen to some Brene Brown.
Third. You don’t even know. People do this with Taylor Swift and other songwriters all the time, we think the songs they write are exactly and literally what they’re thinking. Perhaps, sometimes they are but I can tell you this much from personal experience, and I use this example often, I once wrote a song about how you can’t count on anyone for anything and people will always let you down. I wrote that song because someone didn’t text me back when they said they would and ruined my evening plans. Had I really lost all faith in humanity? Just for long enough to jot down a page of lyrics. No one wants to hear a song that’s lukewarm. Things are heightened. So why do we act like we know what’s best for this person we only know through their songs?
And why all the sass about the last song? Not that it matters, but I don’t think Beyoncé and Jay Z will stay together forever after all this. But does that mean she shouldn’t remember the good times? Does that mean she should go on hating him forever? She can’t. He’s the father of her child. I’ve watched enough Jane the Virgin and Nashville to know you can’t get rid of a baby-daddy no matter how hard you try. She cannot just kick him out of her life so why not focus on the positive things they shared? Holding grudges only hurts the person who already has enough to hurt about. She doesn’t have to trust him again but she can’t run him over with a car or set him on fire either.
Fourth. But she’s not telling my story. Good. Write your own. Make your own. Nowadays you can literally talk into your phone and post it to YouTube so there’s no excuse not to share.
I watched Cool Hand Luke as a kid several times with my and I loved it but one part that always kind of scared me was when they bring him back after he’s escaped and he’s all beat up and they want to hear stories of the outside world. He’s all beat up laying on a table and he yells at them, “Go out there yourself. Stop feeding off me. Come on! Go out there yourself.” Why are people upset Beyoncé isn’t telling their story? How could she possibly do that?
I get answers to my life’s questions through music all the time but that doesn’t mean it’s always right. I remember in one relationship I was looking at this person and I had my mom’s advice for breaking up with someone (rip it off like a bandaid) going through my head at the exact same time as Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up on Us. So guess what. Sometimes pop music tells you exactly how it should feel and other times you’ve got to go your own way. Yes, that is also from a song.
So just because Beyoncé had her experience and decided to share it her way that doesn’t make your experience the same or mean you have to live your life the way she does. Again, she’s not god. She’s just a human who has the capacity to share her story through songs that we will all listen to. If you think she’s telling the wrong story or doing the wrong thing, tell what you believe to be the right story. The more honest perspective we have in the media the better.
Even if we are given the exact same lemons there are still a billion different ways to make lemonade.
It completely undermines what it is to be human to assume that any one person can speak for an entire group of people.
I hope her songs with cathartic, empowering, and/or provided perspective for people and if they weren’t for you, well, I’d be surprised if you can’t connect with a single song or a sing lyric or a single chord or visual moment in the whole album, but that’s still your choice.
And I didn’t read that article about how Beyoncé is a bad role model but parents need to be able to sit down with their kids and talk about things that are in pop culture. There’s no escaping it because it’s everywhere and you can acknowledge that there is good and bad in everything out there.
If I had a kid I would sit down with them and say, “It’s okay to have all these feelings when someone hurts you. It’s not okay to run over all those cars with a huge truck because we don’t have that kind of money.” I would also say, “Now it’s not a hard and fast rule but maybe try not to fall in love with people with two initials for their name but one is spelled out.” We can pull important lessons out of any media.
Fifth. Why aren’t more people doing visual albums? Waiting for this to be a trend. Please?