A story about a Pokemon GO-playing woman being “caught” tinkering with the app during a Beyoncé concert has gone viral over the past few hours thanks to coverage by major news sources like Complex. The sources all agree, probably correctly, that the woman playing games on her mobile phone rather than enjoying her stage-side Beyoncé show tickets could have seemed a bit more excited about her situation, but the one-sidedness of the arguments is actually a bit shocking.
First, a bit of context. A man attending a Beyoncé concert over this past weekend recently posted a video that he had taken at the concert with his phone to Twitter. In the video, the man, who was lucky enough to score a spot close to Beyoncé’s main stage, points out a woman standing nearby who, like him, has great seats. The woman is not looking at the Beyoncé-packed action happening on the stage just meters away from her, however. Instead, she is staring down at her own phone and playing Pokemon GO, the augmented reality app that has taken the world by storm over the past two weeks. The male Beyoncé fan talks angrily in language that is definitely NSFW about the girl and her seeming indifference that Beyoncé is performing so near to her. The video has since been reposted countless times since being shared to Instagram.
One can see why the Beyoncé fan who posted the video might have been a bit indignant when he saw the woman choosing Pokemon GO over primo Beyoncé tickets, items which can easily retail for over $1,000.
As a big-time sports fan who has attended many a game in addition to a Beyoncé fan, I can sympathize. When I am watching a game on TV and see some obviously rich “fan” sitting in seats within spitting distance of the field, but tapping away on their cell phone or chatting with their friend oblivious of the actual game, it gets under my skin a little. After all, I myself, and probably 50 percent of the people at the game in worse seats, would absolutely love to be seated so close to the action.
The only reason such a thing might annoy me, though, is because I am a huge fan, and I’m a bit envious of that person’s situation. The reality is that the person can do whatever he or she wants with the seat, and it’s absolutely fine. Sure, it may be a bit wasteful to sit there and not pay attention to what’s going on (especially if it’s Beyoncé), but this is America, a capitalist society. And that’s how capitalism works. Admittedly, the Beyoncé incident took place in Europe, but you get the analogy.
The Beyoncé concert incident may have begun as a mean-spirited but understandable and unremarkable viral video, but it was taken into the realm of sensationalized smearing when it began to be picked up by the aforementioned news outlets, hungry for a story involving two hot news topics – Beyoncé and Pokemon GO.
The most obvious gripe that many may have with the Beyoncé concert event’s coverage is that it talks about Beyoncé with a reverence of the likes one might expect when a religious leader is praising some holy deity. Yes, Beyoncé is a huge celebrity, but the language used suggests a God.
“Who is this person? Who could buy, win, or be given a spot so close to Beyoncé’s aura and remain unmoved?” writes The Cut. “This woman is right next to the stage. Right next to it. Beyoncé is right there, and this woman is playing Pokémon GO.”
The Complex piece reads that most people, when within 50 feet of Beyonce, would feel “a wave of emotions ranging from excitement to amazement to pure unadulterated bliss; however, for one recent concert-goer, the presence of Queen Bey had almost no effect on her.”
Which leads into the second point. Just because the Beyoncé “fan” was checking up on her Pokemon GO progress does not mean that she was unphased by Beyoncé’s concert. The clip shows the woman on her phone for a few seconds. For all we know, she was enraptured by the concert for almost its entire duration, but opened Pokemon GO for a few seconds to view her progress. Or maybe Niantic, Pokemon GO‘s developers, decided to spawn Mewtwos at Beyoncé’s “Formation World Tour” locations. The point is, it’s really unfair that the woman is being demonized on an international scale when she was just checking her phone during a concert (something over 90 percent of concert-goers do at some point).
Lastly, it should be noted that the Beyoncé fan who recorded and posted the incident was doing, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as the woman he “caught” not paying attention to Beyoncé. He was not paying attention to the Beyoncé concert going on right in front of him either; the difference is that instead of quietly looking down at his phone, he was holding it in front of his face and loudly swearing at a nearby audience member.
What do you think of the incident? Do you agree that the internet is going way too hard on the female Beyoncé concert-goer, or is taking your eyes off Beyoncé after being graced with such a great ticket just too heinous of a sin to let pass?
[Photo by Timothy McGurr/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images]