At the tender age of twelve, I watched an amazing show put on by a woman who I vaguely remembered as the lead singer of Destiny's Child. Her auburn hair, shiny costumes, and incredible choreography blew me away. However, it was when she stated that she was a Virgo as well, that I knew my fate as a BeyHive member (name of the fan base) was sealed!
So, years later when my journalism professor asked the crowded college classroom why Beyonce' is such a big deal, I responded (louder than intended) "Because she's the queen!" Of course this caused laughter to break out and it was a good moment, however, it actually is a valid question. One that is worth diving into.
On April 14, 2018, the world was able to witness pure talent. Beyonce' made her debut after a year-long hiatus, on the Coachella stage as the first African American woman to ever headline the show. On April 17, 2019, she released "Homecoming" on Netflix; A film depicting the joyful and tedious process that led to her iconic performance. What this article plans to explore, are the main aspects that made it so memorable.
1. African American Culture is Front and Center
"I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child, my college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher. I wanted a black orchestra, I wanted the steppers, I needed the vocalists, I wanted different characters, I didn't want us all doing the same thing... And the amount of swag is just limitless." — Beyonce commentary in "Homecoming"
The culture of HBCU's (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) took on its own presence during her performance. The majorette style of dancing, steppers called the "Bugaboos," singing the Black National Anthem "Lift every Voice" and much more, truly made the audience feel like they were immersed in the culture. Deeper into the film, a member of her team described that "'Homecoming' for an HBCU is the Superbowl. It is Coachella." So, expanding past the stage and naming her film "Homecoming" only deepens the message of sustaining and celebrating black culture.
"When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture...It was important to me that everyone who had never seen themselves represented felt like they were on that stage with us." — Beyonce commentary in "Homecoming"
Both the performance and film highlight the importance of representation. It comments on the fact that seeing other people who may look like you, or are from a similar area, or share the same passions, etc. can spark inspiration and drive to achieve the same or even more. The diverse cast of performers onstage accurately reflects the beauty of African American culture, and by making it a vital part of her show, it welcomes the world to learn about it as well.
2. Advocacy for Women Empowerment
"Ladies... Ladies... Ladies.... Are we smart? Are we strong? Have we had enough of the bullshit? Show em"
It's no secret that Beyonce' has spoken out about feminism and women's equality with songs like "Flawless" that have many questions about how they woke up this morning. However, she reminds viewers in this film to constantly fall in love with themselves and to know their limits. She spoke about the strict diet she was on ( which included no meat, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, etc.) and how it was difficult to balance being a mother to three children and still giving herself creatively to the world. Hearing about some of what she went through and seeing how well the performance turned out, attests to the strength that so many women also withhold.
Following the quote stated above, in her performance, she proceeded into singing a mashup of "Sorry" and "Me, Myself and I." Not only do these flow well musically, but the message of being unapologetic with how you feel and relying on yourself first can also be found in both. Overall, she not only celebrates African American culture, but she also celebrates the complexity and endurance of women.
3. Details, Details, Details!
"I respect things that take work. I respect things that are built from the ground up... It was a four month period of rehearsals with Derrick and the band before we started the four months of dance rehearsals..." — Beyonce commentary in "Homecoming"
From having three sound stages set up for rehearsals, personally selecting each dancer, having every patch sewn on, calculating the exact height and shape of the pyramid, to knowing every light; this show was intentional. The incredible choreography by Jaquel Knight has become monumental for the viral challenges it has inspired. Along with that, the variety of genres in dance displayed really emphasized how every person onstage and behind the scenes is a true artist. The balance of having everyone look unified and still be individuals was skillfully executed throughout the entire piece.
So no matter how cliche' the saying may be; hard work really does pay off. Even if someone isn't a fan of Beyonce, one cannot deny that her work ethic is admirable. Even if you aren't interested in her music and have no desire to perform, what is desirable is that she makes people want to work that hard on something; Anything! It makes people want to have passion and purpose behind their own work.
4. Family, Friends, and Fun
"My family is the biggest priority in my life. My family is my sanctuary, my weakness and my strength." — Beyonce commentary in "Homecoming"
More than anything, the performance is genuinely entertaining to watch! The unscripted moment of Beyonce and Solange falling onstage and laughing after dancing together, the pure love shown between her and Jay-z when performing "Deja-vu," the reunion of Destiny's Child we didn't know we needed, the sweet and personal moment of Blue Ivy singing "Lift Every Voice," etc. is what made this a gift from her to the world. There are real topics she addresses in many sections of the film, however, she displays that with love and support from real people, you can overcome the hard times.
It's obvious that I have somewhat of a biased view because I've been a fan for years. Though, fan or not, I hope I have explained that there is a valid reason for why people admire her so much. Not because of her looks and cool dances, it's because she reminds people who they are and what they have inside them. That they can make it through and surpass their own expectations too. She exemplifies how one should never be too elite in life to choose to avoid the problems in society instead of addressing them. Overall, she makes many want to be their best selves.
With that said, I would definitely recommend "Homecoming" so you can watch and hopefully be inspired by the one and only Beyonce'.