Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Queen's Subjects: Why Beyoncé Fans are Ruining Beyoncé

  Hold it right there.
   This is not an article saying that Beyoncé is bad. This is not an article saying that Beyoncé is overrated, or not as good as her fans think she is, or not deserving of the crown our popular culture has placed upon her head. Beyoncé has done incredible things for the pop industry, and currently stands as one of the single most marketable, impressionable, and influential artists in music today. I am not saying Beyoncé is not fantastic.
   I am just saying that those who love her most are also destroying her.
   Now, I need you to know what side of the tracks I am coming from. I would consider myself someone who simply appreciates Beyoncé—I would not say I am a fan. When her fifth studio album dropped this weekend (in a pretty badass way—under the cover of darkness), I was not one of the first to listen to it. I still have not listened to it. I think I come from a place that fully understands the empowerment, the strength, and the serenity that Beyoncé represents, and while I appreciate it and think she does really great things, I will not pay to see her live or to listen to one of her albums.
   Now, if you have a problem with that, keep reading, because this was written just for you.
   In the wake of (or leading up to) important Beyoncé news, there tends to be a very specific kind of reaction. Obviously, people can become a little excited, which is normal. After all, if my favorite artist was about to perform live or had dropped a new single, I would be pretty pumped as well. I have no problem with people being excited for Beyoncé. They are fans—that is what they are supposed to do—but fans of the “Queen of Pop” tend to take things to another level.
   A comparison: about a week ago I found myself in a discussion with a good friend about the merits of Kanye West as a musician. I said that from what I had heard, I did not see why Kanye was that great, so my friend encouraged me to check out My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy and Watch the Throne—two of Kanye’s most successful albums. I did, and while I was able to grant some merits to his producing abilities, I still found his lyrics lacking, and when I reported back to my friend, he accepted it and we went off down our different paths of musical taste.
   When you tell someone you do not like Beyoncé, something different happens. You see, the excitement that people garner around Beyoncé events begins to transform into something exclusionary and competitive. Beyoncé is God, Beyoncé. Albums. Are. Everything., going to her concerts become religious experiences, and let’s not forget, her daughter is so cute that the fans “can’t even.” There is no one more perfect in the universe, and if you dare disagree, then you are stupid, an idiot, or a r*tard. Your opinion is invalid because it is not just wrong, it is downright blasphemy.
      As for your adverse musical tastes? Well, according to many of her fans, the moment Beyoncé comes onto the scene, it is like Vince Carter doing the double-windmill 360 in the Slam Dunk Contest. That is, it’s over. Your preferences, doomed from the start, were (according to the Twitter account below, courtesy of Buzzfeed) just “s*** on,” or thanks to this gif, wiped completely off the table. Your tastes were not wrong because Beyoncé put out something better, they are wrong just because they were not Beyoncé to begin with. Pretty much a no-win situation for those who choose not to follow the doctrine of Mrs. Knowles-Carter.

   The worst thing about all of this is that it takes the figure of Beyoncé, one of the most influential women in our popular culture, and turns her into something people want no part of. Instead of Beyoncé-news being something we can all be excited about, the whole thing becomes a strangely repellant phenomenon. It is exhausting for a non-Beyoncé-fan to go online and see all of the talk and all of the hype and screaming and OMGs and comparisons to queens and Gods and Jesuses and perfection. It feels like everyone joined a hyper-aggressive cult, and you, the heathen non-believer, are stuck on the outside looking in.
   Does this not defy everything Beyoncé is trying to say with her music? This is a woman who stresses empowerment, strength, and self-security with her songs, but her fans, with their caps-lock ravings and their cries of worship, are counteracting these exact messages. How are young people supposed to be secure with themselves if a large part of social media is telling them that Beyoncé is rendering their opinions worthless?
   It is perfectly alright for fans of the world’s biggest pop diva to be excited about her accomplishments—no one can blame them for that. Problems arise, however, when the discipleship to Beyoncé turns hostile and obnoxious—it does not make people want to join them in their following. They should practice what their fearless, independent, irreplaceable leader preaches, and help her to help others feel just as confident in themselves as she makes them feel. The music world would be a better place for it.

   And hey, it would sure make the Queen proud.

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