There is a lot of stuff going around lately about Beyoncé, and her really incredible song (and clip) for Run the World (Girls). And, the thing that got me really excited, which was her performance in honour of receiving the Billboard Millenium Award. With both the clip and the live act, the whole scope of each performance is spectacular. There is sumptous cinematography, impressive kinetic movement, hundreds of (real or simulated) powerful women in command of their bodies, and let’s be frank, fantastic clothing. This should be enough to impress almost anybody.
But with the criticism of Beyoncé such as that found in this article, I am reminded of why this trend to “review” through gonzo-criticism can discredit not only the writer, but also harm to subject as well. Through ignorance and, as it seems to me, bitter criticism just for the sake of making an argument, this article denounces Beyoncé’s empowerment and simultaneously administers potential damage to the whole concept of Girl Power.
I just have to start off by mentioning the petty and slightly insolent accusation that Beyoncé rips off other artists’ work, with specific reference to the similarity between her video clip and the photography of Pieter Hugo. Sure, it seems very possible that Beyoncé’s director Francis Lawrence was conceptually guided by the work of Hugo, but to claim that Lawrence’s design of plastering the columns of an underpass with posters is an imitation, is just too petty. I think the author needs to check out a real underpass some time.
There is an incredibly huge different between cinema and film art, and still photography. And while there does seem to be a similarity between the video clip for Run the World (Girls) and Hugo’s work, I have not done enough research to see whether the critic’s claims are substantiated. I can say that to assume Beyonce might have just gone along with someone else’s idea, while clearly just using this assumption to then make an argument, is hypocritical and very bad practice.
The comparison between Beyoncé’s performance at the Billboard Awards, and the 2010 performance of Italian artist Lorella Cuccarini, is pretty shallow. Sure, some visuals are similar, but never identical as the writer claims. Isn’t this just indicative of a trend? Kanye West (Power, Runaway) has gaudy makeup, huge wings, birds, columns, powerful animals symmetry, yada yada yada. It happens all the time, and yeah, influences are global.
I might be biased. I love Beyoncé, and she changed the way I see music. Sure, she’s music royalty, she’s (I’m assuming) worth millions, and she’s married to Jay-Z, but she has put herself out there for a huge part of her life and makes people know that it’s okay to do so. When this writer is worried about what her actions are “telling little girls”, the point is completely blindsided. Beyoncé is doing what she loves, and she makes other people happy. Certainly me, and a whole lot of other people too, of all ages. When people see art, which is such a huge, influenced and intertextual discipline, prudishness only hampers experience. Let’s share.