Beyoncé: Girl Crush Intact
About 12 years ago I was a passenger in a friend’s car when a Destiny’s Child song came on the radio. Said friend expressed quite explicitly how she couldn’t stand Destiny (Beyoncé) and that she could do with being brought down a peg or two. It stuck in my head all this time because I wholeheartedly disagreed. In Bey-World, I was a very early adopter.
I am biased when it comes to Beyoncé. I’m probably never going to critique any attempt she makes at letting her more human side show. Last night’s Imagine, where Alan Yentob introduced her self-made documentary covering a few recent years of her life, was always going to be more joy than disappointment for me.
Cynics might scoff at the suggested honesty of a self-edited view of someone’s daily life, but isn’t that what we all do every day through various forms of social media? We negotiate where our boundaries lie. We edit ourselves for different readers. In fact, we could possibly learn a little from Beyoncé on sharing. There’s a kind of dignity in not frequently playing out the tedium of difficult days in public, or declaring to the world that your legs desperately need waxing. She is anything but TMI.
One of the most well sculpted sentiments of this film is that Beyoncé is a woman for women. She values female company and wants to inspire young girls to dream big. Her thoughts on women taking over are as sincere as they are idealistic, but she is fully aware of what she’s working with. Who Run the World (Girls) was actually aspirational rather than social commentary. “Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don’t get the same opportunities as men do. Or money, for that matter. Because, let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show; it gives men the power to define our values and to define what’s sexy and what’s feminine, and that’s bullshit!”
Beyoncé isn’t walking the red carpet giggling and pointing at her cleavage. Her grown-up sexuality is just a slice of the pie, not its whole. And she doesn’t use award ceremony speeches to make political statements on whether she is or isn’t a feminist. She lets her actions do the talking. Naming her forthcoming tour The Mrs Carter Tour hardly makes her the subservient wife so many critics wanted to suggest. She also doesn’t get caught up in tit-for-tat name calling. If she doesn’t get the joke, she says nothing. Call it boring, but I like it.
Maybe one of the reasons Beyoncé’s motives are questioned so often is that we’re just not used to seeing women in this position. We’re not used to seeing women reach the pinnacle of their profession without somehow compromising their humility or their morals. The fact that she comes across as genuinely warm and friendly might be unnerving when we’ve been taught that successful woman = bitch. She says herself that she’s had to learn to be less polite in business. But being a good business woman doesn’t mean ‘horrible person’.
Pick holes in the film, if you must. Make fun of her emotional pregnancy following miscarriage or ridicule her belief that God made her success possible. Kicking celebrities during their most vulnerable moments is a weird quirk of our national personality. But my girl crush is lead-lined and bulletproof. Only a completely smashed halo can break it now.