Beyoncé don get belle; wetin be your own?
There are only so many ways Beyoncé can outdo herself when it comes to breaking the internet, and yet she continues to wow the Beyhive, her throng of ardent fans, and the rest of us mere mortals. For who can forget the surprise video album drop of 2013, or the more recent Lemonade she released on Tidal in April 2016?
When it comes to pregnancies, she is even more creative in the ways she unveils her baby bump. Who can ever forget Mrs Carter ending her 2011 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Love on Top” which ended with her unveiling her bump. The announcement was listed in Guinness World Records for “most tweets per second recorded for a single event” on Twitter, receiving 8,868 tweets per second and “Beyonce pregnant” was the most Googled term the week of August 29, 2011.
This week’s Instagram announcement must have certainly come after month of deliberation from Queen Bey on how else she can top the first pregnancy revelation. After all, how can you beat your own master stroke, delivered, of all places, live on stage? “I know,” I can almost hear Beyoncé’s eureka moment, “What’s better than one? Have two babies! Jay, we have got to put back two embryos!”
On Wednesday afternoon the news that Beyoncé is expecting twins was all over social media, and the Beyhive went bonkers, so much so that in less than eight hours after sharing the incredible news, Bey broke the record for the most liked Instagram snapshot of all time, while Beyhive Twitterati got in formation with half a million tweets in 45 minutes.
As I scrolled down the #Beyoncé feed, aside from the genuinely hilarious gifs portraying all sorts of excited expressions, I noticed the number of people who were congratulating Beyoncé and tagging her – and I am not talking about model Chrissy Teigen who tweeted, “But really. Congrats to my best friend Beyonce I love you so much. Hive forever” – without the need to tag the singer.
There is nothing wrong with feeling joyful at a time we all desperately need a tiny bit of joy in our lives, even more so now than ever with the dwindling Naira, the soaring USD, the man-baby with his tiny hands within reach of the nuclear button, Britain telling Europe to kiss her backside… Behaving like Beyoncé is your third cousin twice separated and you are already planning your outfit and picking Babygro for her baby shower?
“Some of you moving like Beyoncé’s kids will be your cousins. Calm down” tweet by @JamzLdn sums up my thoughts better than anything else. There is no denying that we are ruled by celebrity culture and with the ascent of social media since the mid-Noughties, there is a new breed of young people out there, who are under the illusion that they are closer to their favourite celebs than they could ever ask for. What we often forget is this fabricated intimacy. Celebrities and their PR machine are the master manipulators of the make-believe world populated by the Beyhive, The Navy (Rihanna’s gaggle of fans), Swifties (Taylor’s of course), Beliebers, Directioners and all the other fandoms whose names I do not care to list.
While some of us may be intoxicated, albeit briefly, with this sense of intimacy, make no mistake: the celeb is always in control. And there is no other star that embodies this power better than Beyoncé. She shares with you the parts of her world she chooses to see, with her silence defies those parts you may have accidentally been privy to, and moulds all that you may have seen or ever hope to see into the narrative she will promote, which in the end means more record sales, more ticket sales, more endorsement deals, higher net worth.
Controlled illusion of intimacy with increasing returns is the new power game social media has made possible. Yet, millions of people look through a screen and feel Bey is their girl and they will be having facials together, or paint the town red with Riri.
What is more when Nigerians are so exuberant in their celebration of non-Nigerian stars, there is another contentious issue as was raised my my good friend Lami Phillips on Instagram the day after Bey’s news. Sharing a photo of a very naked Beyoncé’s from the star’s maternity shoot, Lami asked on her Instagram, “I wonder what would happen if one of us Nigerian female personalities did this?”
Here are a few responses that struck me:
“Haaaa! Apostle will hear of it!!!”
“The celebrity will be torn to shreds with mean words and statements…”
“Hahahahaha they will say you are possessed – its the devils work”
“Naija especially, they’ll say it’s a taboo as a pregnant woman to even open your tummy let alone this. Pregnant women wearing tight clothes get judged gan sef.”
And last but not least:
“They will say you guys copy too much and you have forgotten this is Africa. How dare you a married woman pose naked, they will question your husband, they will say you want attention if your career is not doing well. The comments will be degrading and horrible. A lot of Nigerians don’t show tolerance to their own.”
What we don’t tolerate in our own whom we’d call every word under the sun why do we celebrate in another with such boundless joy? All I keep thinking is, “Beyoncé don get belle; wetin be your own sef?”
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