Commentary: Beyonce should be a better role model

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)March 28, 2013 

There are three unmistakable signs that a man is getting old:

• His mailbox is bombarded with letters from the AARP.

• He spends 15 minutes looking for his cellphone – while he’s talking on it.

• He looks at Beyoncé and thinks “That girl needs to put some clothes on.”

You don’t have to be a codger or a square to conclude that the time has passed for superstar performer Beyoncé Knowles to reconsider her choice of dress – make that undress – and, while she’s at it, songs. Even before the latest contretemps surrounding her song, “Bow Down,” it was obvious that she needs to rethink what image she’s trying to project – and to whom.

The biggest scandal surrounding Bey heretofore occurred when it came out that she’d lip-synced her rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the inauguration. For someone whose every move and utterance is chronicled by the paparazzi, that’s peanuts.

It’s not as though Beyoncé is a newcomer struggling to gain a toehold in showbiz. That would explain – but not justify – why she feels the need to shock with her attire and songs like “Bow Down.”

The awful ‘Bow Down’

Not only is she idolized and adored by millions of young girls and women, but she has serenaded the first couple and dined at the White House. Michelle Obama said that if she could be anyone else for a day, it would be Bey.

That was before “Bow Down.”

The song, with the sort of puerile, vile and juvenile rants you’d expect on a Li’l Wayne joint, is directed at other women who, she says, wish they were her. Noted musicologist and women’s rights crusader Rush Limbaugh, laughably, criticized Beyoncé and her song for urging other women to be subservient to their husbands. That’s easy for her to say, Rush opined, because Beyoncé “married the rich guy.”

Oy.

Despite Rush’s off-target analysis, one would think that becoming a wife and mother would encourage her to tone down the hoochie-coochie booty-bouncing, to become mindful of the example she’s setting for her daughter. Because even if they aren’t concerned about the impact their dubious behavior has on other people’s young’uns, entertainers are often concerned about the impact it has on their own.

Remember a few years ago when Madonna announced that she was moving to England because American culture – the culture she’d done so much to influence – was not conducive to raising a child?

Now that’s nerve, girlfriend.

If Beyoncé is aiming for showbiz immortality, she’s going to have to evolve. Sure, you can find 40-, 50- and 60-year-old hoochie mamas onstage, but it is seldom a pretty sight. Remember Tina Turner? On second thought – don’t.

Class has never been what comes to mind when recalling any aspect of today’s pop culture, and certainly not with Beyoncé.

Class is, however, what lasts. Barbra Streisand is still singing “The Way We Were” 40 years after it topped the charts, and she could conceivably be singing it 40 years from now. Likewise, Diana Ross could deliver her signature hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” decades hence.

Could Beyoncé sing “Bow Down (female dogs)” 40 years – or even 40 days – from now?

God, let’s hope not.

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