Monday, February 08, 2016

Beyonce & social change

I have to do it. I have to write about Beyonce.

I majored in theatre* in college because I thought I wanted to be an actor. I soon realized I wasn't good at acting, but I stayed in theatre because... well, because it was what I had started in, and what the hell else was I going to do? But definitely the second biggest reason I wanted to graduate with my bachelor's in theatre was because of the idea of "theatre as social change," a concept my small-minded self didn't think of until my History of Theatre class. As soon as my professor started talking about it, something clicked, and a huge "why" in my life was answered.

What a better thing to do with your art than to try to change the world? And that can be through something blatantly political, or through something more subtle, like introducing the concept of drag queens to a possibly tentative audience. We tell our stories so that we can feel understood, so that other people can relate to us, and so that we can, in a sense, weave our being into the fabric of humanity. We're saying, Hey look, we're here too, and here's what we're about, and I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can relate to something here, because we're actually not that different from you.

And sometimes, we tell our stories because we are pissed off. Who else but Beyonce could turn the Super Bowl into an advertisement not only for Beyonce, but for a brand new song/video, a new world tour, the Black Lives Matter movement, the atrocity that is the Flint, Michigan water crisis, and the desperate need to address systemic racism in America? Say what you will about her artistry - she is a force, and she is using that force for a purpose.

She woke up like this.

And guess who is angry? The "not-racist"s of the world. The folks who scream "all lives matter." The clueless ones. The ones who don't feel this anger, who don't feel this injustice, so they can't relate. (If you still think Black Lives Matter means your life doesn't matter, or police lives don't matter, or black lives matter MORE than any of these, you are so far off base, you're not even in the game anymore. But let me know if you'd like to play, and I'm happy to have a conversation about it with you.)

There were a million articles today about Beyonce's Super Bowl performance and how politically charged it was. It fills me with despair that so many people are so angry about it. Why do you think black people feel so disenfranchised? They're trying to tell us what they are feeling, and we're annoyed and angry and want them to just shut up. We're making it about us, the white folk, and how it makes us uncomfortable, and how we feel like we're being blamed. Guess what? It's not about us. Maybe this isn't my fight because of the color of my skin, but I stand on the side of human beings knowing they matter, knowing they are important, knowing they are equal. 

Now, excuse me while I whip about my AmEx to hopefully score pre-sale tickets to the Formation World Tour. Bow down, bitches. 

*I go back and forth with my preference on how to spell this word. Today is an "re" day.


Kim Tracy Prince said...

I'll say this here because I have no interest in adding to the Facebook blather about it. During the Super Bowl show, I couldn't hear a word she sang. I never heard of the song before. I never saw the video. All I saw was her badass dancing. And all over Facebook people are pissed and I do not care. The end.

However, I love your writing, and your words make me feel something in the way Beyonce did not. So there is that.

Katie said...


I couldn't hear her sing either. But I did watch the video on Sunday morning, before the Super Bowl, so I knew what the song was about. And the video kind of sticks with you - there is some powerful imagery in it. I think it's fantastic, and screw everybody else. There was a reason I chose the picture that I did for this post.

(THANK YOU for reading.)