|Vogue April 2016|
Oh Beyonce, you know how to shake that money maker. But are you anything other than that? My students love her. I told them that I think that she's a puppet. Can she dance? hell, yeah. Can she sing? well ... Is she really the one responsible for creating all of these 'events?' probably not. When she appeared on the cover of "Vogue" months back, she did not give an interview. Typically, when you're on the cover of the magazine, you say a few words. Not Bey. She doesn't give interviews anymore. Why? Because she doesn't have anything to say, and her people don't want her real self to be exposed. She's pretty to look at, but ... even in the infamous Met Ball elevator drama, was she bidding for herself? No, her sister did.
Bey is a hologram. And I worry because my students all love her, and the image that she projects even when she's being militant is too, sorry for this, Becky. Why does she need all of that blond weave and nude tights? What would happen if she lost the hair? In class, we are taking part of the National Endowment of the Arts' "Big Read" with "The Maltese Falcon." As part of the lesson, students are creating their own detective stories. The first step is to create a detective character, and one of the characterizations that I asked for was what crime their detective routinely solves. One student, a boy, created a character who solved cases of the missing weave. Something fake has become so much a part of the culture that it is normal. It's a fake-normal.
Rihanna sets her self apart from the other female pop stars as far as I'm concerned. What is that separates her from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Selena, Taylor, Katie? She doesn't try, she is. We may have been distracted by her Chris Brown association as it clouded anything else that she was doing, but with that behind her, she's free to claim herself. She wears it fiercer. Growls it more convincingly. And works, works, works.
Another student that I had loved Rihanna. She was her style goddess. The student was a pretty girl, and I would see the stars in her eyes glisten every time that we talked about Rihanna. I would bring any pictures that came up in my magazines to her so that she could collage them in her locker. I brought in other pictures that featured models of color ... and she saw that beauty came in all kinds of natural. Fashion magazines take the hit a lot for supporting unrealistic beauty standards, but navigated responsibly, one can find diversity of taste, style, and color.
Like anything, one must plow through the weeds (or the weave), to find what's real.