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‘Homecoming’ Proves Beyoncé is Still the Queen of Control

Photograph: Getty Pictures

TBH it make sense that this weekend is Easter, as a result of #Beysus has critically risen.

Beyoncé kicked hump day in to excessive gear with the early morning launch of her Netflix documentary, Homecoming on April 17. The doc, which was launched alongside a stay album, gave the Beyhive a behind-the-scenes look into the eight-month-long (!!) process behind the singer’s iconic April 2018 Coachella efficiency.

Along with making history as the first Black lady to headline the fest, Bey’s two-weekend tribute to historically Black schools and universities (HBCU) was *so* superb it garnered the on-line re-naming of the fest to #Beychella (and let’s be trustworthy, #Arichella simply can’t compete).

And as with the pageant performance itself, preliminary online reactions to the doc have been something like this:

My trustworthy response to each single half of this movie. BEYONCÉ. GIRL.
???????? #BeyoncéHomecoming

— Robust Bey Lead (@strongblacklead) April 17, 2019

Half of the web’s pleasure may be defined by the proven fact that Homecoming is a documentary, which many hoped can be an all-access move to the efficiency and the singer herself. These varieties of media are meant to humanize our superheroes, making them relatable past the pages of Us Weekly‘s “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” They’re an intimate method to join with someone you admire, or understand somebody you don’t.  I *still* keep in mind watching Katy Perry’s Part of Me Netflix documentary and *sobbing* when her marriage to Russell Brand crumbled. Because guys, she. tried. so. onerous! As a non-Katy Perry fan, it was a surprising response.

This notion was particularly titillating as Queen Bey is notoriously personal in relation to her personal life; she hasn’t completed a sit-down interview since no less than 2015 and the glimpses we get into her personal life are manufactured and very managed. As a result of truthfully, a tell-all anything just wouldn’t be Beyoncé.

So, whereas Homecoming delivered on many fronts, these hoping the doc would supply a no-holds-barred glimpse into the life of the celebrity might have been dissatisfied. As a result of if something, it further strengthened Beyoncé’s standing as the queen of controlled narratives—and that’s OK.

Queen Bey tells us what she needs, when she needs—if she needs

When you really feel like you realize so much about Beyoncé, that’s in all probability since you’re purported to.

The first woman of music has created a rigorously constructed narrative comprised of beautiful editorial pictures (and extra just lately, captionless #OOTD photograph carousels on Instagram), two documentaries and a collection of high-profile magazine covers. However a flip by way of the pages of stated magazines reveal… very little. And that’s very intentional. In contrast to her Kardashian counterparts, Bey’s brand has turn out to be synonymous with privacy. For her, the most personal is the most personal; she all the time takes the time to process and assemble the greatest announcement—if any at all—and on social media, private tidbits are few and far between.

One only needs to take a look at the beautiful (and yes, additional) photographs that she used to announce her second being pregnant—which have been chock full of spiritual and maternal symbols—to know that Queen Bey is all about the good set-up.

However while her Instagram posts and updates to are enjoyable to scroll via, the content material is predictable: photographs of her performing, context-less #OOTDs or posing with Jay Z (or, not often, Blue). And the photographs often aren’t even accompanied by a caption. It’s something, but we don’t really study anything that we didn’t already find out about the Houston native.

Bey’s earlier tell-alls didn’t truly inform a lot

However perhaps that’s okay. As a result of while Beyoncé’s pieces of the personal have been thrilling to anticipate, TBH they’ve additionally left quite a bit to be desired. In 2013, her HBO special Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream was presupposed to be a “revealing” look into the singer’s profession and private life. And it had all the trappings of an up-close-and-personal doc, with the singer sharing confessional-style residence videos of herself speaking directly to the digital camera about “big” life events or giving herself affirmations. But even that felt manufactured, the grainy video making the doc really feel extra like an “opaque… song-and-dance defense brief” than a transparent autobiography, as the New York Occasions put it.

In September 2018, the singer graced Vogue‘s iconic September challenge adorned in a flower crown. “Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage,” featured a stream-of-consciousness narrative that read extra like a poetry task than an essay of any type—and it provided little actual insight into the songstress’s ideas and wishes.

To be truthful, Homecoming *was* a departure from Bey’s previous offerings, with the celebrity opening up about some *very* private subjects, including her difficult second being pregnant and C-section delivery, her insecurities about her body post-birth and self-doubt over her capability to perform at the degree she was capable of pre-pregnancy. It was undoubtedly a softer, more weak aspect of the singer than we’re used to seeing.

But while a foray into these private points might be simply mistaken for an evolution, ushering in a brand new period of Bey by which she lets the Hive all up in her enterprise, it’s essential to keep in mind that these admissions are—like her Coachella efficiency itself—structured, practiced and edited to be precisely what she needs.

It hasn’t all the time been this manner

Our queen wasn’t *all the time* a lady of mystery. The songstress *was* granting interviews till comparatively lately, sitting down with Vogue in 2009 and 2013. However in Might 2015, her publicist advised the New York Occasions that the singer had not answered a direct interview query in over a yr.

There are totally different theories for why she might have completed this: a realization that interviews don’t work for her model, rumours of her lack of schooling, *that* elevator incident. However Professor Naila Keleta-Mae places the starting of Beyoncé’s ownership of her narrative all the means back in 2013 with the launch of her self-titled album, Beyoncé.

Keleta-Mae, a professor at the University of Waterloo who has taught a Beyoncé-focused “Gender and Performance” course, says this album—and the inclusion of accompanying visuals as illustration of what she imagined—marked a artistic turning point for the singer. “According to Beyoncé, she had long wanted to do an album where each song had a video and had been told by labels and management that it was unrealistic  and a poor move,” Keleta-Mae says. “So in 2013, she decided to do it anyway.”

And, she says, it was all part of Bey’s id as a artistic and artist. “She’s an artist who’s also interested in self-reflection about her craft and about where she is as an artist, as a creator, as a business person in relation to the larger popular culture [and] her impact in the world,” she says.” Keleta-Mae says the HBO doc and particularly Beyoncé’s residence videos, show a continued and evolving understanding of herself and her picture. That, along with the 600-page espresso desk ebook that was launched alongside 2017’s Lemonade, is telling—displaying that Bey is constantly striving to border herself in an intellectual but present means, as well as mirror on her work.

TBH, she doesn’t owe us anything

“We must always remember that Beyoncé is a performer who started out performing in beauty pageants,” Keleta-Mae says. “She knows how to perform and present herself in particular ways, so she has created a persona that audiences do feel like they know a bit about her and want to know about her and want to think of them as like her as their friend and some kind of way.” And that, of course, comes with some expectations. “Creating [that] kind of dynamic or relationship with the audience does also mean that that audience is going to want more of it,” she continues. “And part of that wanting is what keeps her interesting to her audience as well.”

But Keleta-Might says the concept of Beyoncé, or any Black individual, owing individuals something does give her pause.

“I don’t think Beyonce owes anybody anything. I don’t think any artist does, really,” she says. “She’s an artist  whose art has resonated with wide swathes of people all around the world, but that doesn’t make her owe any more than an artist whose work only resonates in their local community of 25 people.”

As Beyoncé’s longtime publicist Yvette Noel-Schure stated in a February interview with Elle, the guidelines of the media recreation are changing—and artists don’t want to offer all-access passes into their lives. “I don’t know that any artist owes someone a sit-down interview, honestly, now. Politicians, yes,” Noel-Schure stated. “I feel like what artists owe their audiences is a really good performance.”

And Beyoncé delivers. This aversion to the media works for the singer as a result of what restricted entry she does give us—by way of her music—is sufficient.

In her own approach, Queen Bey has addressed virtually *every part* we’ve ever questioned about her life: Lemonade was primarily a couples counselling album, not only giving us perception into all of the bumps and bruises in the Knowles-Carter marriage and their return from the brink of splitsville, but in addition her difficult relationship together with her father after his infidelity (in the unique yeehaw bop, “Daddy Classes“).

And that’s fairly massive

This concept of Queen Bey being “enough” is fairly huge. Knowles-Carter has—in contrast to any female superstar—managed her narrative to the extent that we all know what we’re getting once we join these no-so-all-access glimpses in to her world (i.e., a clearly defined aesthetic, however very little goss), and we settle for it. We nonetheless help her and her artwork—because she’s earned our help.

This kind of managed notoriety is especially essential as a Black lady. Chatting with the New York Occasions in 2015, Yale professor Daphne A. Brooks stated she sees Beyoncé’s inaccessibility as a “hard-won privilege” and a reclamation of privateness that’s not historically accorded to African-American ladies. “She’s been able to reach this level of stardom in which she’s managed—in a way that I really think is unique even among other black women entertainers—hyper-visibility and inaccessibility simultaneously,” Brooks advised the NYT.

Perhaps, after years of craving for extra insight into Bey’s life, the lesson we should always take from Homecoming isn’t that we’d like more from our queen, it’s that what she’s all the time given us is precisely sufficient.


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