Beyoncé’s ELLE takeover: the interview

April 5, 2016 20:09:07 Posted at April 5, 2016 20:09:07
Lainey Posted by Lainey

The exclusive ELLE interview with Beyoncé was released digitally today – have you read it yet? I did this morning. As I wrote yesterday, Beyoncé was supposedly “in conversation” with Tamar Gottesman, presumably the daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager Noam Gottesman – the Carters are tight with him. Click here for a refresher. And that’s germane because for over two years now, Beyoncé has gone media mute by design. Which is why I’ve been so curious as to what this “interview” would look like, whether or not B actually submitted to a proper back and forth discussion with a journalist resulting in new insight and perspective.


The article opens with the writer, Tamar, placing herself at a Beyoncé rehearsal/photo-video shoot on January 23. She observes that Beyoncé is dressed like an athlete. Beyoncé works with her dancers. Beyoncé poses, “staring straight into the camera – without so much as an accidental blink”. YES. That’s the Beyoncé I know. So in control that even her blinks are choreographed. Aaaaand…

That’s the paragraph. ONE paragraph of observation. What follows is a lot of background information – a description of the clothes, a rundown of how Beyoncé has created her brand, an old quote from the New York Times about the cultivation of that brand – and that’s it. In short, Tamar was in a room with Beyoncé while Beyoncé was at a shoot. There is no evidence that they spoke at the shoot. There is no evidence that Beysus even looked at Tamar at the shoot. Then the piece is laid out in Q&A form. Like this:

Question from ELLE/Tamar, in bold font
Answer from Beyoncé, not bold

Question from ELLE/Tamar, in bold font, that does not directly jump off of the previous answer
Answer from Beyoncé, not bold font

Question from ELLE/Tamar, in bold font, that does not directly jump off of the previous answer
Answer from Beyoncé, not bold font

There are no details about how Beyoncé’s face changed in response to these questions. How her voice sounded when she talked about feminism or police brutality, whether or not she slowed down to speak when she was emphasising a point, whether or not she became animated when discussing her child. The ONLY indication of emotion we get here is an exclamation point at the very end of the article for her last answer to, frankly, the most generic question ever:

What do you want to accomplish with the next phase of your career?
I hope I can create art that helps people heal.  Art that makes people feel proud of their struggle.  Everyone experiences pain, but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform.  Pain is not pretty, but I wasn’t able to hold my daughter in my arms until I experienced the pain of childbirth!

So… again… couldn’t this have happened over email? And couldn’t this have been a series of pre-vetted questions?

If so, how is this different from what she did in her documentary, Life Is But A Dream? You remember that? You remember how there’s a part in that documentary about herself – WHICH SHE HERSELF DIRECTED – where she’s sitting on the couch and some dude is asking her questions and she’s answering the questions like she wasn’t the one who came up with the questions since she DIRECTED AND PRODUCED THE DOCUMENTARY??? How is this different?

It’s not, really.

It’s not different because Beyoncé is flexing. Has been flexing. Beyoncé has flexed so well, in favour of Beyoncé, that she has redefined the meaning of the word “interview” for her own purposes. When Beyoncé is “interviewed” she interviews HERSELF. Not even El Chapo could manage that.

Click here to read ELLE’s “interview” with Beyoncé. 

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