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Bow Down Bitches

The cult of Beyoncé has gone too far.

As you may have heard, a couple of weeks ago, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter attended the Grammys. The whole event looked pretty cool! There were celebrities and high-end drug dealers everywhere, so I’m assuming there would have been a load of fancy booze and canapés. On top of all the pricey food, drink and cocaine, LL Cool J was overseeing the whole thing. What could possibly go wrong?

Well. Although she took home three awards for Best Child, Best Husband, and Best Friends (shared with the House of West-Kardashian) she was passed over for Album of the Year in favour of Beck, a man famous for his unique brand of folk-rock as well as his uncanny resemblance to delightful weirdo Wes Anderson. This shouldn’t have been a big deal. I mean, it wasn’t a total travesty; unlike the Best Rap Album category, which is so often a total shitshow. Both were very good albums, it’s not like one was absolutely vastly superior to the other. But regardless of the quality of the albums, it really it wasn’t a big deal because it’s widely appreciated that pretty much nobody gives a fuck about the Grammys. The Simpsons knew this more than 20 years ago, and we know it now. All of us, except one man: KANYEEZUS KARDASHIAN NORTHWEST THRONE.

It’s entirely possible that Kanye’s been trolling us this whole time. I really wouldn’t put it past him, considering he’d have made thousands of haters look ostensibly foolish whilst simultaneously highlighting his self-perceived sense of genius. Regardless of his intentions, Kanye’s almost-intervention was pretty interesting, not because it was the second time he’d done it, but because it demonstrated the sort of slavish devotion that Beyoncé inspires amongst her faithful.

Musicians have always attracted fanaticism of all kinds from Beatlemania to Beliebers, and record labels actively encourage it. It’s hardly surprising; more obsessive oddballs means more record sales, which means more ivory backscratchers for all the execs on the board. This probably explains why more musicians than ever are attempting to generate their own group of militant misfits through the power of social media. This is perhaps characterized best by the screaming hordes that make up the prepubescent mass of Directioners and Beliebers.

But Beyoncé fans are an entirely different animal. With Beliebers and Directioners, there’s the thought that although they’re annoying, they’re merely representative of teenagers manipulated by the culture industry into purchasing shitty music and the associated fandoms that go with it. Beyoncé fans are different because they’ve elevated her from Bey to Queen Bey; from Queen Bey to a goddess to be worshiped at the National Church of Bey. Beyoncé has become an icon, in the very literal sense of the world.

Her backstory and persona are undoubtedly part of what makes her so conducive to deification. A young black girl from Houston who rose to become one of the most prominent artists of the 21st Century, as well as one of the most important contemporary feminist figures in modern society, is absolutely a story worth celebrating. The fact that she remains so personable, charitable and human after almost 20 years of celebrity is even more so. But in recent years, her presence on Instagram and Twitter has inspired a level of adoration that now makes her immune from any sort of wrongdoing or controversy.  She’s not only immortal, she’s bulletproof too.

Admittedly, Beyoncé tends not to court too much controversy, which is actually pretty impressive considering how much time she spends with Kanye. But she’s by no means spotless. At the same Grammys where she was snubbed in the eyes of some, she closed the awards with a cover of Take My Hand Precious Lord, which was featured in the recent Martin Luther King biopic Selma. Her performance was reasonable. But the soul singer Ledisi, who portrayed Mahalia Jackson (who performed the original song) in the film, was sat in the audience. It appears she had not been asked to perform the song, despite having done so beautifully in the film. Of course, as soon as Bey finished her final note, praise flooded in from all corners of the Internet. Those who initially objected to Bey’s version of the song were branded HATERZ, even though that position has been solidified and written about more extensively in the last few days. It later transpired that Beyoncé had asked the producers of the show to perform the song, without consulting Ledisi. As John Legend, who performed alongside her, said, “You don’t really say no to Beyoncé…”

In the past, Beyoncé has performed for Colonel Gaddafi’s family, used animal fur in her clothing line, and became embroiled in a controversy regarding the launch of a Beyoncé video game which was axed and left 70 people jobless over Christmas. The thing is, these are pretty normal occurrences for celebrities as big as Beyoncé! Performing for the family of a murderous dictator in return for exorbitant sums of money is a privilege that very few people on this earth get to enjoy, and Beyoncé’s decision to perform is entirely on her conscience.

And that’s why it’s dangerous to deify her. Let’s not get misunderstood here: Beyoncé is a massively important cultural figure who is entirely deserving of her huge fanbase and her position as a role model to millions of young women, a position that she treats with an admirable amount of responsibility and pride. But by making her immortal, we’re placing an unreasonable amount of pressure and responsibility on a single, fallible human being. Let’s start treating her like one. Because, if she ever falls from grace, it’s a long way down from heaven.

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