No one can deny Beyonce is a controversial artist. Even Beyonce herself has begun to embrace this fact by encouraging contention to swirl around her in a storm of protesters and angry police chiefs. Even more than for most artists, though, this method of obtaining free publicity seems to work out quite well for Queen Bey.
Beyonce’s controversy addiction began with the release of her “Formation” single and music video back in February. The lyrics and imagery Beyonce’s “Formation” unleashed were very edgy and had the potential to offend a lot of people, with references that could easily be seen as anti-establishment and anti-white, issues that protestors and lawmakers across the nation were quick to seize upon.
Well, that insider was not kidding, and it appears Beyonce is not choosing the subtle route in her bald-faced provocation of whoever she can incense. This is demonstrated, reports CNN Money, by things such as her recent decision to begin selling t-shirts at her concerts that literally read “Boycott Beyonce.” So now you too can look like one of the many Beyonce-protesters around America.
The “Boycott Beyonce” t-shirts are being marketed with the purpose of the buyers wearing them ironically, after all — there are not many militant Beyonce haters going to Beyonce concerts — but the fact that Beyonce’s official merchandisers are selling them is still a huge, mocking, satiric middle finger to Beyonce haters.
What is even more interesting than Beyonce’s recent obvious attempts to be a more divisive symbol is the major career shift that they symbolize.
“Part of what’s been fascinating about her 2016 PR campaign,” writes The Atlantic, “is the way it has encouraged and capitalized on the notion of her as someone whom everyone can’t agree on. It’s a maneuver that recognizes the drawbacks of her previous model of uber-popularity, fits in with pop culture’s love of conflict, and frees her to be a more politically pointed artist.”
In other words, Beyonce was not capable of being a public influencer when all of her output was non-offensive and everyone loved her. Sure, she was able to rake in cash from Beyonce fans (who came from all walks of life) at an astounding rate, but it is impossible to make changes without targeting somebody, right?
Apparently, Beyonce got sick of her milquetoast generic pop star image, because she is now breaking out and developing some thorns. The “Boycott Beyonce” slogan she has slapped on her t-shirts – and has indeed appointed as the mantra for her entire Formation World Tour – embodies Beyonce’s shift.
The same Atlantic article goes on to point out that the change is definitely a good move for Beyonce for several reasons.
First of all, Beyonce is giving herself more of a “rockstar” image by sticking it to the man, both attracting free press and endearing herself to existing fans by appearing to martyr herself for her deeply held beliefs.
Second, Beyonce is sending a clear message to those whose views conflict with her message: she does not want them as fans, and she is not changing her mind. Beyonce is purging her fan base, and not only is it undoubtedly satisfying for her, but it will likely be beneficial for her public image.
Thirdly, if Beyonce is lucky enough to draw an actual boycott, she will be seen as even more of a force to be reckoned with.
“Boycott calls are usually directed at large and important institutions,” says the article.
“Recognizing this controversy means recognizing her power.”
In short, Beyonce is really spreading her wings as a public figure. In doing so, she is also burning bridges, and we can kiss the old Beyonce goodbye.
[Photo by Frank Micelotta/Parkwood Entertainment via Getty Images]