Beyoncé for Michelle Obama 

Lainey Posted by Lainey at April 17, 2019 15:33:58 April 17, 2019 15:33:58

Earlier this morning, after we’d wrapped the Show Your Work podcast, #BeyoncéHomecoming special episode, Duana, Kathleen, and I were still high off of what we’d just watched and talked about and Kathleen kept saying, “What a time to be alive”. Duana and I kind of giggled – but it’s not like we disagreed. We are living in the time of Beyoncé, at the peak of Beyoncé, who may very well have a longer peak than most. Here’s an example of how that peak works: Homecoming, of course, which has been trending since before 3am ET, which is when Netflix first released it, and will continue to trend all day as more and more people find time to sneak away from work and stream it and then listen to the live album, which dropped pretty much as soon as the documentary did, and then around 8am ET, the TIME 100 list for 2019 was revealed, including First Lady Michelle Obama, and, as is tradition with the magazine’s annual feature, another famous person wrote her profile – that would be Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. And now everyone’s freaking out about that. 

Coincidence or conspiracy? 

By now we should all know better than to doubt that when it comes to Beyoncé, everything is timed for a reason. All of this is landing today for maximum impact. You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation. 

Beyoncé’s piece on Michelle Obama opens like this: 

Loving Michelle Obama wasn’t much of a choice. It was something that came naturally, because of how she carried herself. Because she resembled us and was moving in spaces where, as black Americans, we weren’t exactly meant to be, she seemed so powerful.

Those “spaces” were the White House, the political arena, and in Becoming, Mrs Obama talks about the pressure of being in her position, the scrutiny she was under, the training and preparation she relied on, along with the support of her family, to be able to not just survive the experience, but thrive in the role. Duana and I talked about Becoming, and the WORK of Becoming, on an episode of Show Your Work last year. Part of that work involved chipping away the mythology around her husband and their marriage. Beyoncé’s mythology, however, is still intact. And #BeyoncéHomecoming will only add to that. It is one of the greatest performances of all time. It is a film that gives us further appreciation of what it took to mount it. 

I watched Beychella live last year. I got up at 1am to get the live feed. I watched it a second time later that morning. And a third before they took down the video. It was exhilarating. As a standalone experience, it lacked for nothing. Homecoming is for those who didn’t see it last year AND it’s another perspective of the show for those of us who did –  and the same exhilaration is there…only somehow, it completes something that was already complete, does that even make sense? You didn’t think there could be more – but there’s more. The “more” is in the deconstruction. Not that Beyoncé is ever here to unravel her own greater mystery but where this particular performance is concerned, she’s showing us the DNA, the building blocks of the show. And for her, by her standards, since she so rarely tells us anything, it is its own form of de-mythologising for a greater purpose: in Becoming, Michelle Obama deliberately presents herself as someone who isn’t special, who came from ordinary circumstances, a woman who owes all that she has to her parents’ decision-making, to teachers who believed in her, and ascribes her achievements to hard work and tenacity. And she does this not out of false humility but as a guide to others, especially other black women, to not look to her as an exception but in the hopes that someday, a story like hers will NOT be the exception. In her own way, this is what Beyoncé is trying to do with Homecoming – because when you consider that this was a show that celebrated Historically Black Colleges and Universities, highlighting the black excellence at those institutions, her message, similar to Michelle Obama’s, to HBCU students past, present, and future was that there is opportunity for them too, that it isn’t out of reach, that it isn’t reserved for Michelle Obamas and Beyoncés only – or maybe, more accurately, that there can be more than just Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.  

Attached - Michelle Obama in Paris last night.
 

Photos:
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