Beyoncé definitely knows how to cause a stir by dropping this amazingly pro-black video in (US) Black History Month argues Jaimeel Fenton in this guest blog. Click here for a contrasting view of “Formation” from Kwame Ibegbuna.
Posts Tagged ‘Beyonce’
Beyoncé’s newly released song “Formation” has garnered a lot of attention, admiration and no little controversy. But once again, the actual lyrical content is far less powerful than the undoubtedly spectacular visuals. The lack of critical attention to the song’s lyrics however, is unsurprising given the less than revolutionary nature of them, argues Kwame Ibegbuna this guest blog. Click here for a contrasting view of “Formation” from Jaimeel Fenton.
When I turned on Twitter last Friday, my feed was filled with tweets reacting, usually with anger, often with humour, to the news that Rachel Dolezal had been exposed by her parents as a white woman passing as African American.
As details emerged, that she had attended Howard University, one of the US’s historically-black colleges, that she was president of her local chapter of the NAACP, that she was listed as a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, the Twittersphere exploded. As I scrolled through these, I noticed how many tweets mentioned Beyoncé. In this post I reflect on what this tells us about race, gender and celebrity.
I’ve been vegan for around 9 years and have been really excited in that time as more people understand what this means and more restaurants add vegan options to their menus. Part of this mainstreaming of veganism is that celebrities are increasingly associating with it. As the Guardian asked earlier this year:
Is this the week that veganism finally came of age? At the Baftas, stars will have the choice of opting for a special vegan menu that includes quinoa salad and roasted butternut squash; rapper Lil B has partnered with a vegan food company to launch an emoji app that delivers vegan versions of his lyrics to fans’ phones; and pop royalty Beyoncé has launched a vegan meal delivery service, called 22 Days Nutrition, with her trainer Marco Borges.
At first I loved reeling of a list of my favourite vegan celebs (Woody Harrelson, Lea Michele, Carl Lewis…) but recently I’ve become angry at how the celebrifrication of veganism is turning a political act into a lifestyle choice…
Emma Watson and Beyoncé, two of our six female case-study celebrities have recently publicly identified as feminists and issued calls for action to redress gender inequalities. This has provoked a deluge of opinion pieces and blogs, especially this week when it seems like everyone from Owen Jones in the Guardian to Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in the New Statesman has jumped online to support Watson in the face of threats online to release nude photos of her following her speech at the UN. There’s also been a widespread celebration of her as making feminist an easier identity for men to admit in public. Given the ongoing discussion about this within mainstream media and the blogosphere, we’ve been left wondering if there’s anything left to say. But having closely followed the media representation of these two celebrities over the last two years, we’ve been struck by some contrasts between the responses to their two very similar articulations of feminism. While Emma’s speech generated the kinds of misogynistic e-bile increasingly levelled at women in the public sphere, she has been widely celebrated for her feminism. Far more criticism has been levelled at Beyoncé with commentators, many of them feminist, declaring her hypocritical for speaking about empowerment while posing scantily clad in her music videos and photoshoots and proudly naming herself ‘Mrs Carter’.
We’re currently working on ways to make our findings accessible to a general audience including those who work with young people such as teachers, careers advisors and youth workers, as well as other researchers. As part of this we’re writing up vignettes based on the individual interviews we did with young people. With advice from our advisory group and other ‘friends’ of CelebYouth we’re working on a dedicated interactive website which will host these and other research findings and resources.
As we develop these we thought we’d share two of these vignettes in two blog posts. In this post, Kim shares the story of Mariam from Manchester. In another post, Heather shares one of her interviews, with someone from a rural school who chose the pseudonym Will Smith.
We’d love to hear what people think of these – Are they interesting? Do they give a useful insight into the participants and their aspirations? Do you think these will be useful resources and to who? What questions do these raise for you? In what ways do you think these stories might get used?
This is the third of a series of posts exploring what the young people in our group interviews had to say about key global celebrities. Here Heather looks at the talk about singer and actor Beyoncé. Elsewhere on the website you can read what our participants had to say about Bill Gates and about Will Smith. If you’re interested in how we analysed our data to arrive at this account then follow this link, here I focus on how and why it appeared to be compulsory to like, even love, Beyoncé.
The CelebYouth study is about the role of celebrity stories in structuring young people’s aspirations. Given the fantasy elements in these tales, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when fairy tales and superheroes came up as our participants asked whether Cinderella, Beauty Belle and Batman were celebrities. In this guest blog post, Sir George Monoux College student, Mahreen Safdar, talks about the significance of fairy tales in her own life.
In another post, I’ve described how we’re analysing the group interview data by using broad codes such as social class and origin stories and then looking for patterns within these. This is producing loads of fascinating lines of analysis. In this post I look at just one of these that’s come out of my work on the code for gender. Alongside looking at performances of masculinities and femininities in celebrity talk and tracking cross-gender identification, this code contains data on how women and girls are constructed by young people in their engagements with celebrity culture. Depressingly, the dominant associations are with disgust – at feminine bodies and feminine tastes. We have written about this disgust in our discussion of Tampon Girl and the Kardashians, here I focus on a more positive pattern of talk around ‘independent’ women.