"Formation." Watched with horror and turned it off less than half way through.
"My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana. Mix that Negro with that Creole, make a Texas bamma."
Grrrr...Ugh. My poor family was soon subjected to my rant about Queen B diminishing the Creole legacy, gyrating in the hallway set in a fine Louisiana mansion. I am Creole--family from Gretna and Algiers. My great-grandmother Josephine, her sister Marguerite, grandmother Jeanne, mother Florence. We have more Pierres and Maurices in our family than I can recall. Grandma spoke French, played piano, had a master's degree in English. She was elegant.
Seeing Bey do her work on a set that represented what is regal and dignified about my history smacked of coonery. I was not happy to see Blue Ivy's mother in a ruffle-neck, long-sleeved, cleavage-bouncing leotard on the dimly lit, ornate set. "She's debasing our history," I said in a call to my mentor, a 70-year-old cultural critic for the New York Post and author of eight books. He hadn't seen the video but quickly put it into perspective. "She is in the business of being watched. And vulgarity gets people's attention." Our conversation was so enlightening, I recorded it. My thoughts and feelings validated by one of the black community's most respected elders.
An hour later Jen texted me to write about "Formation" for this blog. Timing is everything.
I watched the video all the way through, spent two hours reading and watching reactions from various points of view. Everything I read/saw was in complete praise of Beyonce's artistic expression and unabashed acceptance of her blackness. And I mostly agree with the positive commentary. Partially because I refuse to be a Beyonce-hater. That woman has worked more than any of us can imagine and she has earned the right to do and say whatever the hell she wants. But I was still a bit stuck--on the leotard. She does it/wears it better than anyone ever has. But I hope she never does it again. It's not original anymore. Not for her. She and her hubby bail protesters out of jail and donated $1.5 million to the #BlackLivesMatter movement (I have mixed feelings about this movement but that's another blog). Bey herself built a $7 million homeless shelter in Houston. Enough with twerking in leotards--it doesn't suit her anymore. She's too deep for that.
Here's the issue: My line of thinking goes directly against what "Formation" represents. My conservative militant stance takes an "L." MSNBC.com's Melissa Perry-Harris oozed, "In just under five minutes she somehow managed to use her black girl magic to read our minds and tackle all those complicated questions of race and justice in one Beyonce video to rule them all." I'm clearly on the wrong side of this argument.
Why do I even care? It's just Bey's way of entertaining and expressing HER art. Beyonce's overall message for the black community is so powerfully positive that I know I need to let it go. Especially since in my younger days I spent three years on the sidelines of Texas Stadium in white hot pants and go-go boots. Who am I to talk?
But there's something special about Beyonce. She's so beautiful and so talented and so smart and I don't want to see her humping air in a leotard anymore. I don't want to see her humping at all. Ever again.