Monday, February 15, 2016

The Illuminati: Another Oppressive Fairytale

Let's be clear. I am no longer a Beyoncé fan. I once was. I fell off during her fourth album release. But I'm not one of those people who believes that I own an artist simply because I spent $9.99 on an album download from iTunes. Musicians are artists no matter their instrument, and therefore have a right to evolve in terms of their artistic expression. Art is more about expression and less about commercialism. I'm okay with not liking her music anymore. Like white people everywhere on Super Bowl Sunday, there comes a point when you have to accept that everything isn't for you.

Although I am not a fan, that does not automatically make me a hater. First of all I want to abolish, nay, kill the word hater with fire, lots and lots of fire. A hater is one who dislikes another for no reason whatsoever other than bitterness and/or jealously. I could care less what Beyoncé does unless I am asked to blog about her. All of the aforementioned should validate my following opinion on her alleged involvement in the Illuminati.

To quote Wikipedia: "The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. The society's goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life and abuses of state power. "The order of the day," they wrote in their general statutes, "is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them."
In subsequent use, "Illuminati" refers to various organizations which claim or are purported to have links to the original Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies, though these links are unsubstantiated. They are often alleged to conspire to control world affairs, by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations, in order to gain political power and influence and to establish a New World Order. Central to some of the most widely known and elaborate conspiracy theories, the Illuminati have been depicted as lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings and levers of power in dozens of novels, movies, television shows, comics, video games, and music videos."

So what does Beyoncé have to do with any of this? Well, as I like to say, "Look for the Christians." Christians tend to believe that any spirituality outside their own is condemnable by death to say the least and eternal damnation to say the worst. Beyoncé and her husband have been recorded saying that they feel "possessed" when they perform. That the entire Sasha Fierce campaign was an alter ego that Beyoncé allows to take over her when she hits the stage. This serves as proof to Christians and millions of others that the Carters are possessed by demons. But the reality is, ask any film or stage actor, and they will tell you that you have to take your mind elsewhere when performing. You have to become the character to be believable. You lose yourself in the performance. There are a long line of men who played The Joker on film who can testify to that. Most actors won't even watch their own performances because they don't recognize themselves. But for some reason, when the Carters make the same comments, they are possessed by evil spirits. Bring up Garth Brooks having an alter ego and people exclude him from being Illuminati because, he's a confirmed Christian. Another reason people say Beyoncé is tied to Illuminati is that she makes the triangular symbol with her hands at her concert. So basically, people will ignore all of the times Beyoncé has said she is a devout fan of yoga and Indian culture where making this gesture with your hands is common. But none of this is what irritates me most about this whole Illuminati conspiracy. What irritates me is how the Black Conscious community is so readily buying into this.

Realize that every time a black celebrity reaches superstardom, there is a sea of oppressors seeking to discredit them. Understand, as a Conscious Black person, you should never tear down the accomplishments of another Black person. When a Conscious Black person accuses a successful black person like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Nikki Minaj, and Rihanna of being Illuminati, he is sending a message that black people are incapable of achieving success on their own merits. Poor, criminal, drug addicted black people are never accused of being Illuminati. Why? Why is it only the successful and highly visible? Black people are more willing to believe that another Black person's success is to be attributed to the devil before they'll willingly believe that Black people have the work ethic and financial stability required to become superstars in their own respective rights. How contradictory is that message coming from the Conscious ones?

What about the goat symbolism? What's so evil about a goat? Well, as it turns out, nothing. Even the bible tells a story where one must paint their doorway with goat's blood to prevent the death of their first born son. In pagan religions in areas in which the goat is indigenous, the goat may be sacrificed for certain rituals. This includes African voodoo, which is spelled a number of different ways. In order for missionaries to convince Africans that Christianity is the one true religion, they had to teach them that voodoo is evil. Anyone who has actually researched African religion knows that voodoo is about balance. In fact, the black magic portion is what changed voodoo to hoodoo, which didn't exist until the Christian element was added to it. By making the goat evil, all pagan religions were marked as evil by association. Louisiana is steeped in Creole culture. Part of that culture is voodoo. Beyoncé is very proud of her culture and even flaunts that pride in her newest video, Formation. Beyoncé wearing a goat ring isn't evil. If anything, she is toying with the simpletons who believe in Illuminati. She is a brilliant business woman who knows how to keep her name in your mouth. If anyone thought that her previous Super Bowl performance wasn't playing up the hype, they were sorely mistaken.

What I find ridiculous is the fact that so many Conscious people don't seem to know their own African history well enough to know that the Illuminati conspiracy theorists got it wrong. The theories that the triangle symbol that the alleged Illuminati make with their hands is the eye of Horus, an evil God. It's very convenient that an Egyptian God would be dubbed evil. Horus is the God of sky and kingship. This makes it more probable that the triangle symbolism is another show of Black pride from the couple who donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter. In African history the triangle is the delta, the pyramid, the eye of all male gods. But white Christians have convinced people that it is the eye of the devil. White history is filled with missionaries who led the world's indigenous to believe that their deities are wrong and that their god, Jehovah, is the one and only true god. Indigenous people on every single continent were tortured and murdered in an attempt to make them believe in Christianity, and yet, the Carters and the Illuminati are the evil ones.

I may not be a fan of Beyoncé, but I am certainly an enemy of hypocrisy. Accept and give due credit to Black celebrities who put their all into establishing their careers. Don't allow Christians or white America to convince you yet again that your heroes are bad and their heroes are good. If you find yourself losing faith in your people remember, the Christians made slaves. The Christians tortured the Native Americans. The Christians "cleansed" Africans of their "heathen" ways and led them down this path of self-hatred that has endured for centuries. Illuminati conspiracies are just another form of racial oppression. Do not submit to the fairytale.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Beyonce's Formation: The Reversal of a Movement

People haven't spoken about Beyoncé this much since her sister Solange served up a plate of ass whoopin' on Jay-Z in that elevator. No matter how hard I tried to avoid typing this post today, I ultimately could not avoid it. I should state for the record that I am a former Beyoncé fan. I was with her up until her fourth solo album. After that, as a mother, I didn't have it in me to follow her into her trap music phase. All that dancing around half dressed is something she should have outgrown by now. I certainly can't allow my daughter to think that it's okay to be Drunk in Love, waking up realizing that although she was too drunk to give consent she had sex the night before. I also can't have my daughter thinking that it's chic to give head in a limousine, even if she were to politely ask the driver to roll up the Partition please. So the argument that we as Black people need to support her is moot, if supporting her has a negative counter effect on my daughter. I don't mind if Beyoncé sings mostly about sex, money, liquor and haters now. I don't care that she walks around in a onesie every time her feet touch the stage. It's her prerogative. But, I don't buy her music or watch her videos anymore. Nevertheless, I was sucked into the whole Formation debate. So here I go.

It seems to me that everyone is either over-evaluating or overhyping the release of Formation. Let's begin with a look at the lyrics. She goes into a repetitive trap song rant about haters, making money, her sex, hot sauce, collard greens, loving her daughter's afro, loving being Creole, and not being a member of the Illuminati. No matter how hard people try, they cannot convince me that there is anything political about those lyrics. Not once does she mention Black Lives Matter, racism, or even stop killing us. Still, privileged white people are outraged at the political message of a song that is completely non-political. Black people are waving a Beyoncé flag praising her for speaking out on Black issues, despite the fact that she has yet to utter a single word on the subject. Are people delusional? Are they reading a version of the lyrics that I haven't? Granted, I am no longer a fan. But the lyrics are the typical, "I got haters" lyrics that every musician eventually releases. My favorite example of this is Britney Spears. When she released her Blackout album, she hit the ground running with Piece of Me. "I'm Mrs. Ex No Longer Rich and Famous. I'm Mrs. Oh My God That Britney's Shameless. I'm Mrs. Extra Extra This Just In. I'm Mrs. She's Too Big Now She's Too Thin. You want a piece of me." It was an excellent clap back at all of her "haters" (a term I secretly wish would die a violent death). Formation is Beyoncé's clap back song. It is not a political statement. And you know what? I'm okay with that. It has a good beat that I can dance to, you know, if my kids aren't home. I'm not okay with people turning it into a mantra for a movement because it is far from that. To do so would actually set the movement back.

Let's look at the video. It's 4 minutes and 49 seconds long. It is an excellent homage to the streets of Louisiana. Every image can be attributed to a heritage that is at home in that state. Everything from African culture to Creole culture, famous paintings and photographs in live art format. It was a beautiful work of art that was somehow politicized. Maybe it was the less than 10 seconds of a hooded boy dancing in front of cops before they raise their hands and the camera cuts to an image of "stop shooting us" spray painted on the wall. Here is where the line between "she's advocating for Black Lives Matter" and "She's talking about the violence in the streets of Louisiana" is drawn. The fact that there are arguments about the meaning proves it is unclear. One thing's for sure, Beyoncé is proud of Louisiana. It shows in the video. But at what point did she say Black Lives Matter? At what point did she mention Sandra Bland? There is something despicably opportunistic about releasing a potentially socio-politically controversial video on the anniversary of Sandra Bland's birthday. The song is a clap back. The video is about Louisiana pride. Where does Sandra Bland come in? Why evoke that association and memory by releasing this video on her birthday if not to capitalize on her murder? Beyoncé has never spoken publically about racial or social injustice. She talks about her hips, her money, her billion dollars on the elevator, but not Black Lives Matter. I also find it suspicious that after all that Jay-Z has done for protestors in private, he felt the need to release a press statement announcing to the world that he just donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter movement. It "coincides with the same time his wife is releasing a non-political song with a politically suggestive video, on the anniversary of Sandra Bland's birthday. 

And Lastly there is the Super Bowl 50 Halftime debacle. You can read my review of the halftime show as a whole. But the summation of Beyoncé's part is, she marched out in the shape of an "X", did the same dance moves she's done for the past 10 years, and evoked the memory of the Black Panther Party. It was at this point I hit my Beyoncé Formation limit. Yes, I liked the black band on the leg in memory of the dead. Yes, I liked the play on words "get in formation", being get information. But that was about it. I was outraged that she misappropriated the memory of the women of the Black Panther Party merely for career advancement. Women in the Black Panther Party were intellectual equals to their male counterparts. I was never upset with the exclusion of black women from white feminism, because the Black Panther party defined black feminism. There was no need to alter the natural state of our hair or walk around disrespecting ourselves, looking like prostitutes because we were more than just our bodies. We are not the sex objects that white America had reduced us to. But that message was buried in Beyoncé's performance. 

Yes, Beyoncé is entitled to freedom of sexual expression, but she had no right to reduce the memory of the women of the Black Panther Party to sexual stereotypes in booty shorts. She had no right to associate the Black Panther Party with racial stereotypes by going on about hot sauce, materialism, and haters. She crossed the line. This was not an honor. This was single handedly undermining the years worth of hard work that went into reversing negative stereotypes about black women. Police officer Daniel Holtzclaw raped several black women because he viewed them as being nothing more than sexual objects. He knew no one would care about them because to White America, Black women are nothing more than big lips, big asses, that twerk and have sex with anyone who is willing. Beyoncé succeeded in confirming that stereotype. She is an influential musician. Young women everywhere will think they are being true to the movement when they rock their afros and booty shorts. Their mouths will say they are "conscious" or "woke" but their behavior will send the message that they are nothing more than sex objects that will drop it down low for the almighty dollar. This was not what the Black Panthers stood for.

Formation is a clap black song, strategically released on Sandra Bland's birthday. The video was purposely socio-politically charged to keep Beyoncé's name in our mouths long after the single falls off the charts. Although she has yet to say anything publically in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, she will forever be tied to it because of her video and Super Bowl performance. To the Beyhive, this is one of her best singles yet. They're proud of her implied support of Black people. Her Super Bowl wardrobe and "X" formation are good enough for them. From this moment on, no one will ever be able to say to them that she has done nothing for her people. As for me, I need more than a suggestive video and a halftime twerk show to believe she is actually a supporter of the movement. Until then, I'd appreciate it if she stopped undermining it.

Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show Review

The Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show was predictably disappointing. The headliner was Coldplay. The featured stars were Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Therein lies the first mistake of the halftime show.

It's common sense that the special guest performers should never overshadow the main performer. Super Bowl 49 had Katy Perry and Missy Elliot. No one really remembers Katy's performance. We all remember the shark and some remember the metallic lion. Which is a shame, because she really put on a show. Kay Perry is a largely universal star who was instantly upstaged by the return of a legend. But that qualified as a good show because the headliner, Katy Perry, gave such an awesome performance it was like a two for one concert rather than an embarrassing upstaging. It's like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana on the same ticket, or paying to see Taylor Swift and getting Mick Jagger as a surprise guest. Katy Perry with Missy Elliot was an awesome show. Sadly, that was not the case with Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.

I am not a fan of Coldplay. I don't dislike them, but I have never heard a Coldplay song before the Super Bowl. From what I gather, people either love Coldplay or hate them. Unlike with Beyoncé, there is no in between. Some love Beyoncé, some hate her, and others are neutral because they can only handle her to a certain point in her career. A friend of mine referred to Beyoncé as the Kevin Bacon of the music industry. She's everywhere and really needs to learn that it's okay to say no. And then there was Bruno Mars. Everyone loves Bruno Mars.

Although I know nothing of Coldplay other than their new video and their Super Bowl performance, I dare say that it was flawless. Every note sounded right. The lead singer was on point. I loved the beautiful flowers. But what I did not like is how rushed the Coldplay performance was. Mind you, I am not a fan and after hearing the songs, I won't be anytime soon. But my children were enjoying the show. I really feel that we would have gotten more out of the performance if Beyoncé only showed up as the Hindu / Indian goddess who's image she was appropriating in the music video. But instead, she came out blaringly loud, promoting her new single. Someone really dropped the ball there. Two of the three artists are promoting a new single released within a week of each other. They really should not have both been at that the same venue. At the very least, Coldplay should have had more stage time and transitioned into the single with Beyoncé. From there Beyoncé could transition into her new single and then lead into Bruno Mars. What happened instead was Bruno Mars showed up at the end of Coldplay's act and shut it down. The stadium as well as my living room erupted in cheers and dance. No one can sit still when Bruno Mars is dancing. There he was, singing a song that is about a year old, leading into an MC Hammer song that is about 20 years old, and managing to make us all ignore the two artists that were promoting new singles.

Beyoncé's performance is one of the most overrated halftime performances I have ever seen. How long is she going to continue to do the same dance moves before her fans demand to see something new? I could predict her every move. Swing the hair, drop it low, pop it, twerk it, dry hump it, pose. She's been doing the same moves since she was Crazy in Love. And can someone please beg her to take off the onesies and roll up that rogue stocking? The Super Bowl is a family friendly event and there she was being sexually inappropriate on my flat screen tv, causing my children to have to leave the room until the halftime show was over. That should not happen. Then there is all this hype about her making her performance political. Not one single word she uttered was political. The song Formation has absolutely positively nothing to do with Black Lives Matter or the Black Panther Party. So why, did she decide to concoct a routine with dancers dressed as Black Panthers? She proved to the world how out of touch she truly is with her own people. How could she possibly think it was okay to sexualize the image of Black Panther women, who's main goal was to remove the sexual stereotypes and reaffirm their intellectual equality? Her performance was disappointing on so many levels. She literally and figuratively fell flat on her ass.

I really hope the producers of Super Bowl 51 take a moment to remember that politics have no place in sports. I hope they take time to remember that there are children watching the show with their parents and shouldn't have to be ushered out of the room when the halftime show begins. We have reached the point where we only watch the halftime show to see what controversy will unfold.