Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Sasha Weiss from The New Yorker wrote an article last week titled, Why We Care About Beyoncé. In her article she assess the reasons why the American public was simply shocked (!!!) that the diva would dare to give an unauthentic performance on the day of the Presidential Inauguration.

One reason Weiss gave was that juxtaposed with "the earnest idealism" of the event, Beyoncé's supposed fakery "implies some larger fakery at the heart of the entire enterprise."

But isn't the Inauguration, too, just a performance? "How else can we explain that it is through the recitation of scripted words in a ritual call-and-response that the President assumes his position of power?" Weiss asks.

The debate surrounding Beyoncé's performance speaks to America's obsession with "authenticity." Why is it such a scandal if Beyoncé played a scripted version of herself during a performance? Isn't that what all celebrities do? Isn't that what Obama did when he memorized his Inauguration lines?

Just yesterday I read a piece about the growing of trend of fake Facebook weddings. Fake. Weddings. What?? The Internet is just one of the many mediums, where people can and will blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Reality T.V. is another.

Applying these ideas to our journalism class, what does this mean for us when we review a performance? A movie? A book? How do we navigate the authentic and the unauthentic in our reviews? Does it really even matter?


  1. Great questions, Alaina, and well extrapolated. (Nobody's really mad at Beyonce. She's Beyonce. You know?)

    The thing about celebrity is that it is constant performance. The reason that Lady Gaga and Ke$ha are talked about, are popular, is partially because they're brilliant MARKETERS. (I'd almost argue that's their most impressive talent.) None of it's real, but people love it. People want to talk about it, and I think in a sense journalism is sort of fuel for that discussion. Shedding light—in whatever sense that might be?

  2. I think part of the reason that people were so upset was because it was Beyonce, someone who has come to be recognized as not just a performer but someone with legitimate talent. I'm not saying that other performers don't, just that critics and the public for the most part seem to agree upon her talent which is rare. Beyonce doesn't typically fall under the same type of scrutiny that performers like Lady Gaga might. As "bootilicious" as she is, she still plays it safe for the most part with her song lyrics, videos, etc. So for HER to mess up was a big deal. It's like how we expect inauthenticity from certain news sources like "The National Inquirer" or gossip magazines while we depend on the reliability of "The Times" or "The Atlantic." The same can be said for performers being held to different degrees of authenticity and integrity. I'm not saying it's fair, but that it's just the way the game is played. Great points to bring up Alaina!

  3. Oh goodness. Good questions. I guess it begs the question that if it is unauthentic, is it art? Also, you get bonus points for using "ZOMG" in a somewhat legitimate sense. I think it's the perfect word for how worked up people get about this stuff.

  4. It's Beyonce's world and we're just living in it.

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  6. Memorizing lines and performing them live is very different from playing along with a recording, especially if the latter is done with the intention of convincing the audience that the recording is actually a live performance; so, the 'authenticity' comparison between Obama and Beyonce on that day doesn't quite work for me. It's less about 'authenticity' and more about transparency. People don't like to be tricked. Especially by someone about whom they feel strongly.