Since its release this past weekend, Beyoncé's new album Lemonade has fared remarkably well with critics and the press, with the exception of the right-wing media world, where people are constantly complaining that America is no longer stuck in 1955. The successful launch of Lemonade, an album that celebrates the strength of black femininity, has given conservative talking heads enough reason to take a break from their daily Cruz/Trump apologizing to dig their nails into the pop star (not literally, of course, as that would mean actually touching a person of color).
The Drudge Report kicked things off Sunday night with this headline front and center on the homepage, calling Beyoncé an “urban terrorist” (cool racial code words, Matt Drudge!) and depicting her as a blurry Godzilla-like character in her video for “Hold Up,” the album’s opener that features Beyoncé smashing cars as a visceral reaction to being on the receiving end of marital infidelity:
“Beyoncé looks nuts in this video. Role model? Only if she’s in one of those Monster truck rallies,” says the article, hosted on Showbiz411.
Michelle Malkin, whose tweetsplaining website for grandparents, Twitchy, signal boosted Drudge’s outrage siren, penned an op-ed about Beyoncé's double standard on her website, with the headline “Beyoncé’s beehive of bombastic buffoons”:
“Question: Why aren’t liberal celebrities ever held accountable for stoking their unhinged fans’ violent threats and stupidity — the same way Republican candidates are called on to disavow every last remote and random act of bad behavior of their supporters?”
Not sure if that was a rhetorical question, but the answer could be that Beyoncé is an artist, whereas politicians are elected officials who are responsible for the laws that ensure the safety of citizens? Malkin then went on to call Beyoncé’s fans “low-information buffoons” for swarming Rachel Roy, the alleged target of “Hold Up,” with bee emojis. Malkin, whose Twitter handle is @michellemalkin, likened the Beyhive to Beyoncé's “own personal army of Bernard Goetzes,” a reference to a man who shot four people in the 80s on the New York subway in the name of vigilantism. Comparing Beyoncé’s fans to a shooter and calling them buffoons might not have not been the smartest move for Malkin, who, again, is on Twitter at the handle @michellemalkin.
At Glenn Beck’s site, The Blaze, horrendously bad blogger Matt Walsh fanned the “think of the children!” flames with his column, “Beyoncé is Destroying Your Daughter, Not Empowering Her.” After noting that Beyoncé “dresses like a wealthy stripper,” he went on to mansplain how women should and should not be inspired to feel empowered:
“[I]t would be merely absurd, not necessarily dangerous, for a woman to feel 'empowered' by these rote pop song platitudes. Unfortunately, in Beyoncé's case, when her lyrics aren’t warmed-over and cliched, they’re vulgar, ugly, manipulative and destructive. Often they’re all five of these things at once. Granted, many pop songs are profane, mind numbing garbage, but considering Beyoncé’s status as Pagan Goddess of Secular America, her garbage is all the more toxic. Especially when mixed with racial exploitation.”
Meanwhile, over at Breitbart, Lemonade is portrayed as a piece of feminist, Black Lives Matter propaganda: The site also highlighted prominent Black Lives Matter voices praising the album, prompting their readers to leave hundreds of horribly racist comments, as is the site’s business model: Speaking of propaganda machines, let’s check in on the GOP mouthpieces over at Fox News. Sean Hannity, who last year pondered why stores carry Beyoncé albums but not the Confederate flag, echoed the bad role model angle on his radio show, making this comparison:
“I feel so bad for Curt Schilling. Oh, Curt Schilling raised the question of transgendered bathrooms, now he's fired from ESPN. Oh isn’t that nice? Remember the great a role model, Beyoncé? As described as a role model, friend of Barack and Michelle Obama? Oh, the role model is now smashing to smithereens different sets that she's on. Isn't that a great—remember Beyoncé, better role model President Obama said at a fundraiser, she couldn't be a better role model for my girls because she carries herself with such class and poise and has so much talent. Oh, the Beyoncé that just did the anti-cop video—that one? Do you really want your daughters dressing like Beyoncé? I don’t think so. Or any rock and roll star for that matter. Or any pop culture figure for that matter. Anyway the president—in her new video from the visual album 'Lemonade' shows the queen of pop smashing dozens of cars and other objects to smithereens with a baseball bat. Now isn’t that nice? Isn't that great? What a great way to raise your kids.”
Hannity is referring to the disgraced Red Sox pitcher who LOLost his commentator job for sharing a transphobic meme on Facebook (less than a year after he was suspended for tweeting a meme comparing Muslims to Nazis). Schilling, whose biggest accomplishments to date are running a video game company into the ground and playing a baseball game with a bloody sock, is a martyr and a patriot in Hannity’s eyes, but Beyoncé should be shielded from our children because she, like, wears short skirts or whatever.
And way out on the fringes of conservatism, red-faced conspiracy theorist Alex Jones released a video to his tin-foil hat followers about Lemonade, saying… honestly, it’s hard to decipher what his point even is, but he seems pissed:
“This is [Beyoncé's] latest video, blowing stuff up, beating everything up, smashing vehicles, and it’s all about men. First it’s hate the cops in the last video, now it’s the ultimate feminist video being hailed. She just hates men and runs around with a crazed look on her face attacking everything.”
Jones also questioned whether or not Beyoncé works for the CIA.
None of this Beyoncé-bashing is new. The conservative media has long used Beyoncé as a pawn in their ongoing crusade to (unsuccessfully) delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama. Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z have been guests at the White House and both the President and the First Lady have respectively cited her as a role model to young girls. Right-wing pundits have continually raged against this because Beyoncé doesn’t fit into their traditional American role model mold. Beyoncé employs her sexuality in her music [gasp], she uses her platform to spark national discussions on political issues [oh heavens me!], and she is an autonomous black artist [monocle drops and shatters].
Back in February when Beyoncé used Black Panther imagery during her Super Bowl half-time performance, the right-wing media went into full-on shit-fit mode. Fox & Friends held a panel discussion with noted police-coddling former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. After Giuliani weighed in on the artistic merits of the event, saying, "The half-time show, I thought it was ridiculous anyway, I don’t know what the heck it was—bunch of people, like, bouncing around and doing strange things,” he went on to express his disapproval of the themes: “It was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers, who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive. And what we should be doing in the African American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers.” Pretty bold words from a man whose “quality of life” laws put the police violently at odds with minorities and did less to build up respect for police officers than anyone.
Most famously, the Super Bowl performance caused professionally enraged woman Tomi Lahren, to accuse Beyoncé of “perpetuating the great battle of the races”:
“You—just like President Obama, Jada Pinkett Smith, Al Sharpton—just can’t let America heal. Keep ripping off the historical band-aid. Why be a cultural leader when you can play the victim, right?”
[TRANSLATION: Stop making us white people think about America’s ongoing abhorrent racial injustices that we’re tacitly complacent in when we’re just trying to watch football and truck commercials.]
Lahren even dragged Jay Z into it, saying “Your husband was a drug dealer. For 14 years, he sold crack cocaine. Talk about protecting black neighborhoods, start at home.” It would seem like a man who rose from committing petty crimes to become one of the country’s most successful businessmen would appeal to Republicans' whole “American dream” narrative bullshit, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. (Charlamagne Tha God pretty epically schooled her on this double standard.)
Beyoncé, it should be mentioned, reportedly tried to gain clearance to use audio of Lahren’s rant on her world tour video, which Lahren denied. Lahren has been milking this for all it's worth this week in a desperate plea to stay relevant, devoting three different segments to it: one patting herself on the back for turning Beyoncé down, another complaining about having her social media accounts “swarmed by Beyoncé’s so-called Beehive or Beyhive or whatever the hell they are,” and a third where she basically just angrily airquoted some nonsense about a Lemonade segment on The View.
Fox News’ loudest talking head, Bill O’Reilly, has long been critical of Beyoncé (and hip-hop in general). Previously, O’Reilly has called Beyoncé’s music “base entertainment,” blamed her for being “part of the problem” regarding teen pregnancy, and accused her of putting out “exploitive garbage that harms children.”
But again, none of this is necessarily about Beyoncé, personally. This is about commentators’ discomfort with the America the Obamas have created wherein the reigning pop star is a politically minded black woman who uses her platform to force topics like racial inequality and police brutality into national conversation. They miss the good ol’ days of pop stars singing about how great life is through their big, toothy smiles and saying absolutely nothing.