While the internet went crazy over Beyonce’s lip-syncing non-scandal (hello we live in post-Britney Spears, Rihanna, Ke$ha, KAty Perry world), the media and internet machines seem to be dead silent on Bey’s latest move:
oh and this:
instead of critique what we are getting is a lot of: “YAS! God!” and “Royalty Realness” and sites like Perez Hilton, Just Jared, That Grape Juice, and the hufingtonpost just either mentioning the tour or gushing over the pics. My reaction was something similar to Son of Baldwin’s co-opting of Squeak’s “who dis here [white] woman?”
Actually here is the real time feed of my my twitter thoughts:
AND here is a comment I posted on instagram
- See the thing is this:
Playing with colorism and embracing whiteness is not new when it comes to Bey:
Destiny’s Rehab did a piece on Bey and her numerous color controversies. The thing is that Beyonce herself never really responds to these things partially because she doesn’t have to. Currently, one cannot say anything about Beyonce without being accused of being a hater, without people dismissing you, or without risking you life because the her stans are in a league of their own when it comes to their utter devotion. And while one can’t say anything critiquing Bey, her stans, the Beyhive (and yes I am speaking in a broad general sense), refuse to look at her critically. So the result is a woman who is powerful and can affect, perhaps more than almost any other woman of color performer/artist, our perceptions of art, beauty, and performance but still is content to sit back and collect checks, that she doesn’t need, by trading on whiteness, colonialism, and outdated gendered ideas.
This is not about being catty
and saying that the Marie Antoinette schtick is tired and old (it is both Madonna and Xtina have done it), it is about asking why in 2013 must the references women of color pull from always be the whitest ones? Bey has referenced almost every white girl in the game from Marilyn to Betty Page to now (signs that the title queen is certainly gone to her head) Marie Antoinette (or Elizabeth the First ?) but her black visual references for large marketing campaigns have been few and far between. To date the only one I can thing of is a Josephine Baker reference when she performed for the Victoria Secret fashion show
sigh it is just tired and sad. And it is not just Bey, where are other black female artists overtly and visually referencing Whitney, Dorothy, Billie, Janet, Diana, Eartha, Ella? Where? Where is the media critiquing this?
Also, beyond the obvious skin lightening issues and the references to whiteness, what about the overt reference to colonial power? Does Bey not get that the power and wealth that France and Britain and other European powers she wishes to emulate came upon Black backs? That colonialism only recently allegedly ended? I get it, some will say that she is “subverting” the image. That she is claiming space for black women in this idea of beuty and power but I would counter and say, why do we want that type of power? Why do we never seem to learn what Audre Lorde so simply said:
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
I guess subversion is just not really working for me anymore. And one more thing: WHY OH WHY must it be “The Mrs. Carter Show”? Beyonce is a grown woman who is extremely successful and who professes to be feminist and embrace aspects of feminism but yet she still plays on the notion that it is so cute that she is married and trades on this status.
It makes you step back and think about Beyonce the woman; this is a woman who has went from being strongly attached to her dad to now being strongly attached to her husband. When I think about it, despite all of Beyonce’s claims of being an independent woman, I cannot think of time when she was not, has not, been defined in relation to a man.
So perhaps, in reality this is more of the same? I mean she did (unofficially) give us her personal anthem a few years ago right?:
I just spoke to a friend on instagram and they were telling me about how they have a problem critiquing Bey because they are such a fan and because she (my friend) is not a Black woman and Black women’s choices are always heavily scrutinized and critiqued. I agree with her. Black women are critiqued, torn apart, and scrutinized in this culture and I do approach these conversations with a certain amount of trepidation. But, then I think to myself, what about the bigger picture, what about the black women I love whose images are not exalted as beautiful And this woman who is already light makes herself lighter to be what, more appealing? I think to myself about black women I know who had to learn to embrace their hair—pause and let that sink in, they had to learn to embrace their own hair!—and then she dyes her hair blonder and blonder and what happens, people eat it up and few critique it. I think about my future child who may possibly be black and female and I think to myself, I would rather her reference Margaret Garner or Harriet Tubman or what she imagines the queens of Kush to have looked like over the too numerous images of white women and white queens. I think of this and then it becomes clear, something must be said and we must critique.
Black women referencing black women and black excellence now that is power.
UPDATE: The strikeout is because, as a reader via their professor confirmed for me, Beyonce is NOT referencing Marie Antoinette but indeed is referencing Queen Elizabeth I. Note, this not only means the colonial critique can still apply but that it may perhaps be more appropriate as hers is the reign that is often (perhaps somewhat incorrectly) looked at as the start of the British (Colonial) Empire.