If Beyonce was in marketing she would be getting an A* for effort right now. Last night at the MTV VMA’s 2014 she delivered a routine encapsulating all her key messages –stellar pop performance, killer dance routines, strong key messages (feminism blazing in the background, nod to God in the acceptance speech), potential to be a stripper if it all goes wrong (did you see her work that pole), mother and wife (Baby Blue and Jay Z in moving video montage plus on stage) PLUS all round entertainer, she was on stage for twenty minutes. Whatever happens in her personal life, in REAL LIFE, not the real life we see through her carefully edited Instagram page, she really does always put out an image of positivity 'I'm so full. Thank you. I have nothing to say but I'm filled with so much gratitude. I thank god for this moment. I love you so much. Baby Blue, my beloved I love you.'
There is so much of Beyonce to admire. Queen B has come a long way from her first super girl band Destiny’s Child to become an icon in her own right, through sheer determination, hard work and being super talented. She’s helped to shape a generation with her powerful anthems, Independent Women, Survivor, Run The World (Girls). She’s the girl next door, she’s never in trouble, she’s evolved from Destiny’s Child teenage pop star to a fully fledged grown up pop star. She’s never falling out of clubs, she’s never caught having a catfight, she’s the pin up and poster girl that we all aspire to. She really does have it all, career, looks, husband, family.
Yet we still find space for criticism. I can imagine the headlines tomorrow – how Beyonce masks sadness through show of unity with Jay Z, how she’s fighting for her marriage, can she be a feminist if she is gyrating round a pole and wearing a high cut leotard? What has changed for her? For one, she has reached a level of global fame where it is impossible not to attract criticism, these controversial stories sell the most copies but second and more importantly, she opened the door to social media by joining Instagram in 2012. Much of her early career was often limited to public image of Beyonce but interest in her private life reached epic proportions when rumours of her relationship with Jay Z surfaced. I think we all loved the normality of the Beyonce/JayZ relationship. Their privacy created an intoxicating fairy-tale, a marriage of R&B royalty which was hidden from public view and soon after they welcomed her first baby. How fabulously retro it seemed.
In all the ways social media has been the perfect way for her fans to get a glimpse inside her life, we are in an iconoclastic society, so what goes up, must come down. The media have been quick to draw conclusions from every image – she’s not wearing her ring, she’s had her tattoo removed, SHE’S OBVIOUSLY SPLITTING UP WITH HER HUSBAND. The truth will out in the end, but it’s interesting how we feel invited in to dissect her life though a social media channel. Especially during ‘LiftGate’ where the video of her sister Solange attacking Jay Z went viral in hours. The only thing that made a bigger splash was her straight to the iTunes store, visual self-titled album featuring fourteen music videos. She’s the first star to do that, a PR and marketing first. You can imagine Beyonce saying she wanted to do that, and her team warning her of all the hard work and that no one has ever done that before…but she did it her way and changed the way we look at marketing music forever.
Her list of achievements could go on for hours and of this from the woman who has only just turned 30. I have high hopes for Beyonce, and seemingly we all do. She’s on a super high pedestal, singer, dancer, songwriter, feminist, all while glittering in high heels and a leotard. And we all have something to say, whether we’re discussing her possible lip syncing, sexy dancing or marriage rumours, she’s become such a public icon that we discuss her every move at length. Whether you believe Beyonce is worthy of the feminist tag or not, and I’ve read articles that make me think, she opens the door to conversation. In her song her song Flawless both on the album and at the MTV VMA’s she includes of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words on feminism “We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition but not too much. Aim to be successful, but not too successful otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Beyonce, whether causing a stir through her stage antics or promoting a perfect social media life is a mutli layered human being, who is capable of doing amazing things and making mistakes. But what stands out for me is her hard work and positivity, if you have that, everything else follows. Beyonce is at the top of her game, and I hope she stays there and doesn’t get tipped off her pedestal by the media. It would be nice if she really did have happy ever after.