bell hooks and Beyonce

bell hooks pissed off a lot of folks last week when she criticized pop singer Beyoncé:

“I see a part of Beyoncé that is anti-feminist–that is assaulting,” she said. “That is a terrorist in terms of impact on young girls.”–bell hooks

I don’t have a problem with what hooks said. She is a cultural critic and that’s what cultural critics do…deconstruct popular images. “Cultural critics define the (often political) reasons why a certain aesthetic or cultural product is more valued than others. In doing so, they examine value hierarchies that have been established within such categories as class, race, national origin, gender, sexuality, feminism.”–dictionary definition.  bell hooks critique of Beyoncé is no different from her views on Tina Turner (who Beyoncé borrows heavily from) and Madonna, back in the day.

Plus, if you really are a fan of bell hooks, you would know she speaks in hyperbole.  She is purposely trying to make you angry. She is trying to get you to think about how these images affect our lives in an Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.”

I’m sure it’s hard to grow older as a woman in the Entertainment Industrial Complex. It’s probably why Beyoncé pushes so hard to stay around. Even Madonna (the queen of reinvention) eventually was weeded out.  And we see what they did to Janet. Beyoncé’s new music would be interesting to me, if she genuinely tackled these issues. Instead we  get lines like “eat the cake, Anna Mae” in her quest to stay relevant. She really needs to take some time off and reevaluate her image/music. Her urgent desire to stay popular is making her put out all kind of bizarre images that are inadvertently affecting young black girls. They are the collateral for her to stay rich and famous, I think that what hooks was trying to say.

Also, all of this focus on Beyoncé is causing confusion/hostility between black feminists. Probably what they want as it distracts us from other issues…

What do you think?

images
Photo from: colorlines.com

 

Advertisements

“Eat the cake, Anna Mae.”

I’ve often wondered how does Tina Turner feel when Ike’s abuse is referenced in songs. And it tends to be referenced a lot in rap songs (I tried to Google to see how often, but couldn’t pin it down) Probably because a lot of rappers see nothing wrong what was done to Ms. Turner, as I’m sure most of them are probably abusing a woman themselves.   I’m sure it has to be triggering for Ms. Turner to constantly hear about the violence she suffered from Ike. And to hear it in songs that usually glorifies/jokes about it (especially in the black music), it’s probably like a stab in the heart. I can see why she gave up her American citizenship. She’s giving the deuces to all the fools who mock and shame her.

I’ve never cared for Jay Z.  He has been pretty unrepentant about his drug dealing days (that helped to destroy black communities/families), despite being married to the “hottest chick in the game” and now a daughter–still degrades women in his music, and has been running around the country (and other countries) encouraging white folks to sing “Niggas in Paris” over and over and over again. How wonderful for us black folks, when we travel outside the country *rolls eyes.* So, not surprised he would let domestic violence lyrics roll off his tongue, in Beyoncé’s new song “Drunk in Love…”

“I am Ike Turner…Baby know I don’t play. Now eat the cake, Anna Mae. Said Eat the Cake, Anna Mae”.

Beyoncé is such a walking contradiction (as we can all be at times), it’s hard to take her seriously. But what makes her more dangerous to me, is that she sells herself as speaking up for women and a lot of younger women of color believe it.  Why she would allow her husband to rap those lyrics on her new “feminist” album? She probably had no choice. Despite running around saying she’s a woman in charge, Beyoncé has always seemed submissive around Jay Z to me.  And with his public record of his attitude toward/about women, I’m sure he is not someone you can have a genuine conversation with about women’s issues.

Instead of wasting $16 dollars on an album that mocks domestic violence, I would encourage folks to donate that money to groups like INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence  and Black Girl Dangerous. These folks  not only speak out, but engage in real activism to empower women of color.

So, free yourself from the contradictions and oppression that is Beyoncé’s new music. She is an entertainer who is being used to make black women feel bad about themselves (and to create chaos amongst black women; arguments/debates about if she really represents us). We have to resist this manipulative agenda.

beyonce-drunk-in-love-jay-z-official-music-video-01

Beyoncé is featured on the Summer 2013 cover of FLAUNT

I am neither a stan/fan of BEYONCE. I have mixed feelings about some of the things she represents. However, she has some great photos in the current issue of Flaunt magazine.  I wish she would do more African (minus the blackface) inspired imagery. It works for her. It’s better than her current white washed look….

The Conundrum of Beyonce

The singer is currently featured on the cover of Ms. Magazine:

enhanced-buzz-21623-1369319764-1

I tend to have mixed emotions about Beyoncé.  I will admit I am not a fan. I am a 70’s/80’s child. I grew up with singers like Stephanie Mills, Angela Winbush, Miki Howard, Phyllis Hyman, Regina Belle, Vesta, etc. When compared to these amazing (underrated/respected) women,  Beyoncé’s singing style/music catalog, tends to be “okay” to me. However, she is an electrifying stage performer/entertainer.

I also respect that she has worked hard for her career. Recently, a blog asked should young people look to Beyoncé, as a role model. In some ways, I would say yes. She has shown that having goals/aspirations are important. She has shown that you must work hard and be dedicated,  to get what you want. She has shown that you must demand respect (but I ain’t bowing down, cuz I ain’t a bitch 🙂 and be professional.

However,  I would be hesitant to embrace her as a feminist. I find it interesting that so many other feminists (black/white), do.  Yet, these same folks have had no qualms ripping women like Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Khia, etc., to shreds. Is it because folks tend to view them as “ghetto girls,” without redeeming qualities? Is it because Beyoncé comes across as sweet/humble, even though she sings about the same things they do (money, status symbols, being “freaky” in bed, etc.). They have also shown that if you work hard and go for yours, you can achieve. Yet, no one praises their accomplishments.  Lil Kim (especially) tends to be mocked and deconstructed about her plastic surgeries. But, Beyoncé has also altered her appearance for mainstream acceptance/male gaze (long blonde hair, breast implants, colored contacts, skin lightening, etc.)

It’s not surprising that Ms. Magazine would pick Beyoncé, as their rare black woman cover. She is non-threatening and reinforces white women’s superiority complex (e.g. white beauty standards). Don’t we all remember them making Michele Wallace, take out her braids for her cover shot? I think it  would’ve been more powerful, if this new issue had Assata Shakur on the cover. Shakur was recently listed as one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorist. 

Ironically, I believe Beyoncé and her husband’s trip to Cuba, helped to realign the target on Shakur’s back. In their  quest to show off/sense of entitlement, I believe it forced President Obama’s hand. As the husband, rapped about getting clearance from the president. Of course, he was just bragging, but it made President Obama look bad. I think the president wanted to show republicans, that he’s tough on “crime.” We all know the president, tends to worry  what these racists think about him (that’s a whole ‘nother post).

Speaking of the husband,  he is another reason I don’t  readily accept Beyoncé as a feminist. She married an unrepentant misogynistic, colorstruck  man. If you don’t believe me, all you need to do is look at the man’s music catalog.  I find it disturbing, he recently joined Beyoncé on stage, at the Chime for Change event. When has he stood  for anything representing empowerment of women?  I guess because he’s nice towards Beyoncé (his ideal of beauty)/has a new daughter, we are supposed to forget he has gotten rich off the degradation of black women/community?

I think Beyoncé peddles “soft feminism.” In other words, sure she will talk about women needing to be paid equally to men, how important it is to be independent, etc., but she doesn’t really challenge/reject the status quo. If anything, she accepts/feeds into it…

I don’t dislike Beyonce, I really don’t. I just don’t see all the supposed feminist stands she takes, as others do.