A lot of people need to go sit in the corner and think about the following words: Epic. Revolution. Strength. Explosive.
These are all words I've read in the past few days through the unavoidable bombardment of media reports on Beyoncé's Lemonade. How - and when - did her pedestal get so goddamned tall?
Life is pain. And I don't doubt that Beyoncé has had her fair share. But it's hard for me to revere someone who's boundlessly beautiful, naturally talented, and filthy rich. Human equality issues like feminism and African-American oppression are important, and it's wonderful that she's chosen to use her power for good. But I am infinitely annoyed by the amount of people describing the visual album as "epic."
To contrast: The movie Room, showcasing Elisabeth Fritzl's years of sexual abuse, isolation, abandonment, and bittersweet social re-entry... this is epic. Rosa Parks assuming arrest for refusing to sit on the back of the bus... this is revolutionary. Malala Yousafzai being shot by the Taliban while fighting for women's education rights... this is strength.
To compare: Audrey Hepburn cutting her hair off (and still not looking the least bit masculine) is "boss." Al Gore filming An Inconvenient Truth to raise climate change awareness (amid a plethora of political, chin-stroking selfies) is "neat." And Beyonce featuring a history of the black female struggle (none of whom seem to be larger than a size 4) is "super."
At the heart of it, Lemonade is a scorned woman who created a public shame sensation of her chosen life partner's infidelity and then released it exclusively on said life partner's media channel. Their pockets are literally being lined with millions of $17.99 credit card payments. It's entertaining, and it certainly has the positive effect of sparking worldwide conversation. But is that enough to make it "explosive?" Didn't anybody see She's Gotta Have It?
The modern world is increasingly centered on social media. As our attention spans get shorter, it's important to remember what words means and how we're saying them. I don't want to get rid of pop culture - I just want people to think critically about what they're chewing on.
So please! By all means, keep your heads up Bey's vagina. (I personally like to alternate mine between Mimi's and Prince's.) But let's call it what it is: a sweet, warm vagina to rest our placid little heads. There's no scar tissue, characteristic wrinkles, or magical sex muscles up there. It's just good.
Update: A well-written New Yorker article just came out that articulates my sentiments exactly. Ahhh, sweet validation.