Tuesday, 5 February 2013

In which Knowles bowls us over

image: alancross.ca

I’m writing this on Monday evening, having spent the day in a sort of Beyoncé trance. Or Beyoncé trancé, if you will. My knowledge of the Superbowl still doesn’t extend any further than “weird rugby with more adverts than action”, but I’ve watched Beyoncé’s half time performance five times in a bid to learn all the choreography.

It was a performance that made you want to go beyond the bounds of conventional description and use adjectives you would usually use to talk about a ship, or a particularly fine showjumper. Magnificent. Tremendous.  An absolute triumph of stagecraft, vocal gymnastics, and actual gymnastics. A rendition of Halo that made me cry at my desk. And thighs. A pair of thighs like no other, except actually enough like lots of other thighs to have women round the world sighing and reaching happily for a Twix.

As true, solid gold megastars go, they don’t come much finer than B – she’s the perfect recipe of talent, production, mystery (was she really flashing Illuminati symbols during that performance, or was she just having a nice stretch?), down-to-earth-ness (the Tumblr of home photos that featured at least three vaguely unflattering angles) and having shimmering skin that looks as if it would taste like a Werther’s Original.

But of course this means that just like all other solid gold megastars, for everything she does that you love, there will be another thing that makes you squint at a computer screen and go, “Whaaaa?”

This week, that trade off is Beyoncé storming the Superbowl (hurrah!) then announcing she’s coming to perform in the UK in April (hurrah!) as part of a tour called… The Mrs Carter Show. And there’s the “whaaa?”.

Mrs Carter? Oh yes. You’re married, we get it. He liked, it, so he put a ring on it. Sigh.

I’ll accept that despite being a celebrity of stratospheric influence, it isn’t her responsibility to personally empower each young female fan in the world. She didn’t sign up for that. Fine. But it’s frustrating to see someone who could be such a powerful force for feminism make so many odd concessions.

Like last month’s interview for American GQ, in which she declared, “I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men,” next to a seven-page spread in which she’s almost naked throughout. So near… and yet actually quite far.

Make no mistake, it’s not about saying what she should and shouldn’t do – just “wouldn’t it be fantastic if she did, and didn’t?” One day soon, perhaps, Beyoncé will push it further and make the kind of statement that really will help us Run the World (Girls).

But for now, at least we can sit back and enjoy the show.

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