The title of this post is a direct quote from a twitter user who tweeted this after it was announced that Beyonce is featured on TIME magazine’s cover as one of the most influential people of 2014.
As an avid Beyonce fan (a stan even), my immediate response was outrage. Well, not outrage. Rather disbelief. If you are a human being who has a television or access to the internet or to any source of media outlet, you know who Beyonce is. Whether you are a fan or not, whether or not you approve of what she does or who she is, you cannot argue that Beyonce Knowles is NOT influential.
If, like me, you have been a fan since her Destiny’s Child days of sultry R&B and verbose pop songs and ridiculous outfits, you have seen Beyonce transition from a talented teenage pop star to one of the most powerful women in the music industry.
However, after thinking about the question, I realize that it’s a valid one. Influential to whom, exactly?
She influences fashion; she is one of the best dressed women in the public eye. Her Mrs Carter World Tour saw costume design by Versace and Tom Ford and Jean-Paul Gaultlier, among others. I don’t know much about designers, but those who do, those who care, know that this is a pretty big deal. From the Mrs Carter tour costumes, people draw inspiration, clothing lines are influenced, it’s that exact thing that Miranda Priestly was talking about in The Devil Wears Prada. Yes, your top from Mr. Price and your fully sequinned blazer from Forever New may have its roots in a Beyonce costume.
Celebrities fangirl/stan for Beyonce. U.S. President Barack Obama stans for Bey. That is all.
With the recent release of her non-hyped up, non advertised, self-titled visual album, Beyonce Knowles launched the world into a frenzy. She nearly broke the Internet. After casually releasing her album on 13 December 2013, she casually posted pictures of herself baking vegan cupcakes on Instagram. Ok Beyonce. Ok. (Check the user comments. People are hilarious)
I got iTunes on my Windows PC so that I could buy this album. This album is for the grown Beyonce fan. For those of us who watched her evolve from Destiny’s Child, to falling Dangerously in Love with Mr Carter, to becoming Sasha Fierce, this album opened up a whole new dialogue for women. For men, too. For the music industry. For marketing strategies.
She opened up a new way of looking at feminism. She opened up a dialogue about owning your sexuality, being a mother, women’s rights. How to balance a career and a family while maintaining privacy in the very public eye. The internet exploded with think pieces analyzing each song off this album, relating back to past albums and songs. There’s the interlude on ***Flawless, by Nigerian-born writer and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The song excerpts the author’s TED Talk on feminism:
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller
We say to girls: “You can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
Otherwise, you will threaten the man.”
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is most important
Now, marriage can be a source of joy and low and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are
Feminist: a person who believes in the social,
Political, and economic equality of the sexes
Beyonce declares herself as a feminist on this album. We are in a time when many are reluctant to claim the title ‘feminist’. I was one of those people. Maybe she is making the statement that maybe women really can have it all? My point is, when Beyonce sings, a whole generation listens.
She influences the way we speak or use language. I am a firm believer in the power of words. ‘Bootylicious’ is an acceptable word to use and has been inducted into the Oxford Dictionary. We know what a Bugaboo is, we know when we need a Soldier (Thanks Kelly and Michelle), we know what it means when we say ‘to the left’ twice in succession. We know that if he liked it, he should have put a ring on it. We know that 1+1=3. When we’re fresh from a heartbreak, we know that some day he’ll wish he were a better man. We know who runs the world (Oprah and Beyonce. Waaah.).
Flawless, Serfbort, Cigars on Ice, Monica Lewinskyed, Dranking Watermelon, I woke up like dis. We know that all the fives have to be quiet when a ten is talking (thanks Drake). THIS IS JUST FROM ONE ALBUM.
Which brings me to her talent. Beyonce is an entertainer. Some people argue that you don’t have to wear skimpy outfits and sing provocative lyrics if your’re talented. Your talent will speak for itself. People argue that this is no type of role model for young girls. By all means, monitor what your children are listening to/watching. That’s YOUR responsibility toward your child.
Bey has redefined the definition of entertainment. I won’t go to a Beyonce concert to watch Beyonce sing. I will go to a Beyonce concert to watch Beyonce PERFORM. She is genuinely talented. She is a legit singer who has honed her talent, along with her work ethic into something phenomenal. No entertainer on this planet works as hard or is as huge as Beyonce is at this point in time.
Whether you are a fan or not, whether or not you believe or approve of what she’s saying, there is no argument that Beyonce Giselle Knowles belongs on that list. We live in a celebrity culture. That’s the reality of the world. As the biggest pop star in the world, what Beyonce says, does, sings about or wears has an impact.
That’s why the fuck Beyonce is influential.