The entertainment world stood still on its axis when Beyoncé dropped her visual album “Lemonade” last weekend.
The album represented an emotional love story with powerful visuals to match and it quickly became the epicenter for fringe personalities and anyone looking for a come-up to voice their opinion with takes hotter than the surface of the sun.
The release of “Lemonade” and the subsequent responses by a few fringe personalities, proved that the business of black provocation is still booming.
Piers Morgan, the embattled British political pundit who lost his job at CNN amid poor ratings and failure to connect to audience, decided to pen an article openly lamenting on the “divisive” nature of Lemonade, saying:
But I have to be honest, I preferred the old Beyoncé.The less inflammatory, agitating one. The one who didn't use grieving mothers to shift records and further fill her already massively enriched purse.The one who didn't play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily.
I also, feel the need to be honest. Piers would never criticize a man (of any color) the way he does Beyoncé. Ever since Janet Mock placed Piers directly in the Hurt Locker over his lack of gender identity comprehension, he’s been chomping at the bit to react.
Piers doesn’t get to choose how or when a black woman decides to showcase her people, her political views or her statements, especially in her music. To yearn for a “less inflammatory” Beyoncé, is indicative of the constant shift in conversation that many want to make when real issues of racism and sexism make them uncomfortable. Mr. Morgan would rather black women stay in their lane, then to rock the boat with political statements or advocation of any kind for their race or gender.
While Piers was erroneously deconstructing the message behind "Lemonde," Iggy Azalea took umbrage with the visual album’s lyrical content. Azalea went on a Twitter tirade about the song “Sorry” and the use of the term “Becky with the good hair,” likening its use to a racial epithet.
That Iggy would feel compelled to voice her displeasure with the use of “Becky” further highlights how her tunnel vision on these topics encapsulates multiple layers of irony within a cacophony of ignorance.
First, “Becky with the good hair” doesn’t denote race. The descriptive emphasis in the lyric doesn’t skew towards any particular group (unless your name is Rebecca and your hair is phenomenal). Iggy juxtaposing Beyonce’s words to a slur feel more like a reflection of her own internal stereotypes rising to the surface. It’s those types of insidious thoughts that continue to hinder us from transcending bigoted ideals.
For an Australian born “hip-hop artist” who’s appropriated regional dialects for her own professional gain, she lacks the historical origins of “Becky” in music. One would look no further than Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot to find its original use. Where was your outrage when Plies released his hit single “Becky” six years ago? You would think that an artist who repudiated the knowledge that legendary “A Tribe Called Quest” member Q-Tip tried to impart on her would do better research.
It’s hilarious to hear her views on how races should interact with one another when she's provided us with such indelible gems on race relations.
Iggy must have a pretty short memory.
To sermonize your morals while making comments like the above without an ounce of contrition reeks of hypocrisy. Iggy also doesn’t seem to grasp the true concept of race as a societal, systematic construct utilized by people in a position of power who use this power to oppress. Becky, a name, is more suitable to argue as an insult than a “racial slur.”
I’m pretty sure no one in White America has ever been oppressed or systematically discriminated against with a sobriquet for Rebecca. When Becky has the same effect on ANYONE as hundreds of young minority professionals who resort to whitewashing their resumes in order to hide their race for fear of discriminatory job practices, then we can talk. Attempts at civil discourse using incendiary language to make a point will be viewed as disingenuous and unproductive. But you’re right Iggy: Intention does matter. You should know...
Art requires neither accolades nor criticism. Its only requirement is an audience and a platform for proper consumption as deemed by its creator. Beyoncé used her massive platform to tell an emotional, vulnerable story of love with imagery and symbolism that celebrated the African Diaspora and its women.
If you didn’t “get” it, then it wasn’t meant for you, and that’s OK! To force your opinion on an artform that you cannot control in an attempt to siphon the shine from impactful individuals is a desperate act of celebrity self-preservation.
Earlier this week, in response to the constant vilification of women, and black women in particular on twitter, I offered this observation:
The click-bait think pieces and poorly constructed Twitter rhetoric about "Lemonade" won’t temper the jubilance that black women exude.
To grasp the low-hanging fruit of a few lyrics to justify your digital vitriol over a 58-minute music video, shows that these celebrities care more about making headlines than advancing conversation. You allow your white privilege to justify unwelcome intrusions into black culture under the shroud of “divisive imagery and racism,” knowing damn well that it’s not your place and not meant for you.
People like Piers and Iggy want to troll black people knowing that asinine stances like theirs will elicit angry reactions, which will turn into page views and cosigns from others cut from the same unenlightened cloth. I cringed thinking about the exponential number of think pieces that would spawn from "Lemonade" overanalysis.
However, I worry more about the assault on black art and black women from opportunistic culture vultures who see minorities as stepping stones towards fame. Utilizing a digital platform, the modern method of information sharing in this era, to perpetuate these irreverent attempts to whitesplain black culture is dangerous.
Credible and caring voices are needed throughout the black community to be vigilant against people like this because as much as we think indifference will be effective, sometimes you have to clap back and course correct the conversation.
Piers. Iggy. You’ve gone way past your 15 minutes of fame, and the public won’t be interested in granting overtime, no matter what you do.