Last week I ended up in a back-and-forth debate about Beyonce and whether or not she was a role model. Somehow, Beysus manages to be everything to everybody and nothing to everybody at the same damn time. It’s amazing how polarizing she is and it’s mostly her own fault. She wants to be all things to all people. She wants to be able to make albums that are personal and talk about gettin’ nutted on in a car via her husband and still be able to be apart of campaigns to not be bossy. Which TO BE CLEAR, I’m not saying that one negates the other people. RE-READ THAT LAST SENTENCE. Just pointing out the extremes here.
I had to have a convo with a womanfriend about this “Ban Bossy” campaign. I honestly didn’t realize that women were outchea being called “bossy” in such negative fashion. But rock rock on. Take back the words. I guess. What it really sounds like is “Ban B*tch” but as was pointed out, it’s hard to make that work on a commercial and universal level. Somewhere, Kelis is kickin’ tires and lightin’ fires, big daddy #bawse
Anyway, the convo stemmed from an article written by LZ Granderson for CNN that specifically talks about the “Partition” video and lyrics and makes mention of the fact that Beyonce – the role model – was on shaky ground.
Beyonce the artist is above reproach. With 17 wins, she has only one less Grammy than Aretha Franklin. She has more than 13 million Twitter followers despite only tweeting eight times. And she famously crashed iTunes by releasing a full CD without any promotion.
However, Beyonce the role model is questionable as hell.
I’m all for handcuffs, hot wax, stripper poles, whips — whatever it is two consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their bedroom to keep the relationship fresh. But increasingly, Beyonce has chosen not to keep such things private.
Those lines spawned a convo that wove its way into Dr. Dre (not a role model) and Jay-Z (also not a role model) to Michelle Obama (role model), etc. But it ultimately comes down to what makes somebody a role model. To be clear, I do think that looking for people to be role models is a bit of a tired art, but nevertheless, this is our society (and every society). People become reluctant role models, outrightly deny being one, or seek the title (as I think Beyonce does). Truly, your parents (or parent-like people) should be your role models seeing as they are the people with the most interaction and guidance in your life. But we all look up to people we don’t know and will never meet. It’s human nature.
So here’s my take: Jay, while a very clear example of success despite the odds is not really a role model. I tend to view role models as people who strive to show you the way to achieve and succeed in as positive a light as possible. Sure, Jay success is positive. And I’m a huge Jay fan. But you can’t divorce the person from the art that got him there. You just can’t. Same with somebody like Dr. Dre who is remarkably successful and rich who has made the majority of his fortune weaving tales of rape and murder. I’m an NWA fan but I can’t defend nearly any of the music they ever released on wax. I appreciate from an artistic rebellion rapper standpoint.
But again, they’re great examples of starting from the bottom and now there there. Beyonce is on that line. While she’s clearly the greatest entertainer on the planet right now (FIGHT ME!) she really does want to be a role model as well. She wants to stand for something and show somebody some light. Which I’m all for. Especially after so many years of folks thinking she was a vapid soul just put here to look into the camera with a blank smile and say “I like good things because good things are great!” Personality was great. And she took it to a whole new level with this last album. It felt like her most personal outing yet. Which is also where I think she starts to tow that line too closely.
Granted, all of the sexual agency she’s exhibiting and sharing blah blah blah is coming from a space of a married woman who did everything “right”. She got married, had her kid, and her and her husband are sharing their lives with us…explicitly. And I’m not sure if that’ s role modelesque. Granted, she can make any music she wants (and does). And I get the argument of owning your sexuality as a woman. It’s just that the folks usually looking for role models are younger and I’m not sure I need 12-year-olds listening. Which they shouldn’t be.
I’m also not going to run the lines about the fact that lawyers and doctors, etc are all our role models. They are but they’re not perfect. But role models don’t have to be perfect. They just need to know what to keep to themselves and what to share, pretty much only bringing something to the table worth noticing. Which is why you get so many entertainers not wanting to be role models because they want to speak freely and shoot up strip clubs and be ignorant without worrying about destroying the minds of some impressionable youth. Though, saying you’re not a role model doesn’t stop people from placing you in that role. That’s the gotcha gotcha. I feel like most folks who are actual role models leave little in the way of having to actually debate it. There’s usually no question about it.
For that reason I think most of these folks (entertainers and athletes) are fine examples of making it. But role models? I don’t know. But what do I know, I’m lightskinneded.
What do you y’all think? What makes somebody a role model? Who gets to be one?
Talk to me.
Oh and who would be a role model? Yo mama. No…seriously.
-VSB P aka MR. I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3