I DO not like Beyoncé. I realise this is as controversial a statement these days as “I do not like cute puppies with wet noses” or “that Farage chap talks a lot of sense, actually”, but it’s true. I do not care for the woman.
I have no doubt that my membership of the sisterhood will be revoked any day now. Not liking Beyoncé is not OK. She is generally seen as a good thing. She has a healthy shape and does not promote skinniness to young women. She does not do drugs. She is a loving wife and mother. She belts out half-decent pop songs about empowering females. Even Forbes magazine agrees, last week naming her the 17th most powerful woman in the world.
But I have my reasons, and one of them is that Forbes magazine last week named her the 17th most powerful woman in the world. When did we let our pop stars wield that much influence? And what does she do with that amount of power, other than post endless pictures of herself on her tumblr site?
This is a woman so obsessed with how she looks and how she is perceived that she employs a “visual director”, someone who has been paid to follow her around, filming her for up to 16 hours a day, since 2005. A woman who has slapped a ban on all photography during her current world tour in case anyone snaps her looking anything other than stunning. And a woman so absorbed in the cult of herself that she turned her pregnancy announcement into a stage show during the 2011 VMAs.
Can you imagine if German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who took the top spot on the women’s power list, did this? Just picture the looks at Nato summits. She’d be out of the job before you could say “hausfrau”.
Yet Beyoncé is still trying to peddle the message that she’s just like the rest of us. Unlike Lady Gaga, who swoops about looking like Batman after a crystal meth binge, Beyoncé is desperate to convey the impression that she’s down at home. A simple girl with tousled hair and no makeup whose looks and lifestyle are attainable.
Beyoncé reflects an image of herself that is normal, yet impossible to achieve unless you have millions of dollars in the bank, personal trainers on hand (don’t be fooled, that body is honed within an inch of its life) and that visual director hovering in the background. It’s a mean trick. And from the woman who is the 17th most powerful in the world, a highly dangerous message.
IT IS now nine months since Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, were jailed for performing a “punk prayer” in protest against Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s main cathedral. On Thursday, Alyokhina started a hunger protest after being denied the opportunity to attend her own parole hearing. She was subsequently denied parole. The world has a duty not to forget these two women. Alyokhina’s actions may speak louder than words, but for the sake of her health, I hope the Russian government grants her a voice, and soon.
IF YOU haven’t seen the footage of a woman in the Oklahoma tornado who finds her pet dog in the rubble, please do look it up. If anything can restore your faith in humanity after a dark week, the image of a woman breaking down in tears because her canine companion has survived the storm is it. Just beautiful. «