Beyonce Bounces & Jiggles For A National Audience And That’s A Good Thing?

I heard about but didn’t watch the Beyonce television special that aired Thursday evening.  I find her music utterly boring and know that no matter how popular she is today (in part due to hard work and her appearance) it will not endure decades from now. Plus her videos offend me. Cheap titillation for the masses works for the masses not for individual enlightenment. It really irritates me to hear people bestow icon status to someone who was at the right place at the right time (after Aaliyah’s death) and positioned accordingly.

So I really hate to admonish some of you but you leave me no choice. I’m all for being free, proud of your body, footloose and fancy free but come on! Yup, it’s time to break out my ruler and rap some knuckles. Honestly many of you should know better. In fact many of you DO know better but no matter. You like what you like. Despite all progressive agenda fighting and declarations of outrage over inequality you simply like to see a black woman shaking her a**. Oh and other women of color too – but hands down it’s black women for the win loss.

Of course in Bouncy’s case I may need to qualify her “blackness”. One day it’s light-skinned, the next it’s Creole and it’s even Latina according to her interview with the magazine. Now other cultures are wonderful. We can learn much from each other. Some of us even have a shared experience of past capture, forced labor and similar DNA. It’s just funny though because I don’t recall the last time I’ve ever read a national (cultural) magazine where the subject waxed philosophically about how they wished they were a different ethnicity.

Leave it to black people for that one because how many enjoy pointing out how they’re x, y, z and a in an effort to make it clear they’re a different kind of white brown meat? Not that acknowledging one’s heritage is a bad thing but think about how many blacks (and I’m pointing the finger squarely at African-Americans) have claimed to have “Indian blood” in them all the while the real American Indians are pulling tribal rolls and forcibly revoking status of those with majority African DNA – but not those with European DNA. Even brown-skinned Latinos with similar African DNA who may look black tend to make it clear they are NOT black. Just sayin’.

I also find it disappointing but not surprising how many cis gay men love to keep women in their place. That place being a body appropriated for male objectification. In the case of black women it is often added with the continued role reversal of women taking on responsibilities of black men as a collective due to their mass abandonment/defection. We have a more recent example with Adam Lambert. Boy did I champion him hard during last season’s American Idol. I knew he was going to be somewhat marginalized due to his orientation and being the justice seeker I am, I wrote about it. So imagine my rage when I saw the spread in Details magazine. Yes, spread is a totally applicable word for that photo shoot was all soft-core porn and anger. Sex and violence directed at women is what we’re supposed to fighting against, not celebrating as “edgy”, “artistic” or any other BS excuse he and his team would choose to come up with. It’s why I wait to see how those who claim to be liberal and progressive behave in scenarios that don’t directly affect them to see if that fairness they seek is extended to others.

So yet another male basks in his privilege to dominate a woman even when he isn’t interested in them. I care not one whit about the flack Lambert’s received over his “dark and edgy” but musically boring performance during the AMAs either. There is no difference between that message of bared flesh for male consumption in Details and the one produced in hip-hop music and videos. It’s trite and T-I-R-E-D. Even when women try to be edgy that way it falls flat because it lacks sincerity. Gimmicks are for card tricks, Vegas and magicians, not recording artists who want to have enduring careers. Alas, there’s the rub. Quality versus the glut of crap-tastic “artists” being force-fed to an ever-quickly tuned-out audience. Yes, as always there are exceptions but puh-leeze one drop in a bucket of piss doesn’t make a lick of difference.

Bringing this back to the subject at hand – Bouncy – can do whatever she wishes in her career by the way. It’s her choice. Yet I loathe to hear people fawn over her skills as a “performer” while ignoring the big giant pink elephant in the room. She’s working the room better than the $500/night stripper exotic dancer at the local “gentleman’s club” and there’s no little difference between what both women are doing to earn a living. Of course she’s not the only one, Shakira being another who abandoned her roots music for an English language audience and hip shaking. Why? She’s an amazing songwriter who does actually write them and isn’t simply jacking credits. There are others as well like Miley Cyrus who danced on a pole at an awards show  – geared for children. I can’t not mention Britney Spears either. The porn-i-fi-ca-tion that’s taken over and where it’s being made to seem normal is a huge problem.

It is black women though who are in the most vulnerable position across the board as a collective. We can’t afford to do what other women do. They are protected. We are not. Our image is being assaulted by a host of trough-eaters looking to cash in on presenting our insecurities as pathologies that we can’t overcome. Which many still don’t get. It’s no coincidence this effort is attached to black (and mostly male) faces just as our collective image was prominently elevated by the First Lady of African-American decent.

Janet Jackson’s career has still not recovered from the debacle following the Super Bowl performance. As long as it’s acceptable within the “black” community for artists like Beyonce to put themselves out there they will continue to do so. It has not gone unnoticed how the number of “black” female artists are now almost exclusively bi-racial and multi-cultural unless they’re white women (i.e. Fergie) who have a developed “black” sound. The booty-shaking will even be labeled  “empowerment” but there’s nothing empowering about reinforcing Saartjie stereotypes. Even Madonna – who has thrived on provocation (and cultural appropriation) didn’t cross certain lines. Once you’ve put yourself out there you can’t control how others react and I know many would be upset if non-black – ok – white men started talking about how much they like to see Beyonce “performing”. So if that’s the case then why be okay with it NOW?

7 Replies to “Beyonce Bounces & Jiggles For A National Audience And That’s A Good Thing?”

  1. This was very loaded entry, and I agree with every point you made. Being an ex-stripper back in my college days, the things that Beyonce (or insert any other present-day pop singer) does would not even be tolerated in most strip clubs. Yet she is what young girls emulate. My little cousins know every single word and "dance" move of hers. They say that's what they want to be, and it makes my heart sad. Then another thing that troubles me is that when these types of criticism that you have touched on are made, it is met with the accusation of hating or being jealous, so a dialogue is never able to be had to get to the root of the issues.

    1. Hey thanks, but why are some of the things not tolerated at a strip club? I wonder if I should even be asking but I'd like a clarification. I will say this for Bouncy -- she is very popular. I was in a coffee shop where a 5 year old was dancing a Daft Punk song. I thought it was cute how she got lost in the music but I immediately recognized her choice of sticking her butt out and shaking it and wondered why she was doing it. It sparked a conversation with her parents because they asked who the artist was and I explained they'd be relieved to know the lyrics were relatively safe for a child and the dad chimed in how all she'd listen to Beyonce despite their efforts at limited exposure. They were a non-Western family. So you see the questionable influence permeates cultures.

  2. I Have read Female Chauvinist Pigs and it's really good! No one can accuse Beyonce of critical thinking. creole is not a race! It's a culture born out of nothing after slaves were

    brought to the Caribbean we made language and food with the bit of pieces of those who colonized us.It's culture born out of struggle same with African American who built a rich culture, music , food, literature.She wants to make herself more exotic by claiming she is creole and which I find stupid and misguided. Creole women do not need more exoticized. In the Philippines they put more emphasis on the spanish blood than their Asianess, in Haiti were I'm from Europeness is favored so is white, mixed Lantiness ( Goddess forbid you be a Black Latino Sammy Sosa anyone). It's what happens to all colonized people . we want to look like our oppressors or other than. We think we are less than. It took me some time to see I was beautiful black women that my worth was not based on what others thought was beautiful. As for Shakira she used to be about girl power now well it's all about playing hot spicy Latina. I miss 1990's Shakira!

  3. to clarify: I think Lambert's using sexist imagery to make himself more marketable (not cool) but that the model seems complicit and participatory (so not violent, but explicit.) She plays to the camera, reinforcing a fantasy that permits the viewer to identify and want to emulate Lambert in a way they may not to if he exhibited his true sexuality.

    1. The way Lambert grabs the model and the exposure of her flesh suggests S&M which in their case is supposed to be consensual but it is merging violence with sex which is usually not about sex at all but male domination over women. Hence the 1 in 3 rapes/molestation/violation problem. Perhaps a stretch to some but it perpetuates a direct correlation to me. Esp considering Lambert is gay and we know all of that is a BS marketing ploy. Esp with his "I like to kiss girls sometimes". Oh really? Cuz as a gay man you also want to kiss women…yeah right.

      1. "merging violence with sex which is usually not about sex at all but male domination over women….marketing ploy."

        Excellent point. I had glossed over that, initially.

  4. Great post. I don't read violence in the Lambert spread, but they're still disturbing even w/o that reading. Initially, I was going to say that it reinforces heteronormativity (as in, why wasn't the model a male) in a way that does Lambert an injustice, but upon reflection, I think it's a way to make his sexuality more broad-based, and more palatable (which keeps up the sales across markets.)

    Have you read the book Female Chauvinist Pigs? I haven't read it yet, but it seems to speak to the issues you brought here about Bey.

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