Throughout Beyoncé’s career, she has made numerous comments about her desire to leave a legacy, and her position as a role model and even “modern day feminist” of sorts; and, seemingly, since their union, Beyoncé and Jay-Z has become Hollywood’s power couple. Beyoncé, at the height of her career, and Jay-Z have become a pop and Hip Hop icons, to the extent both seem untouchable, in likes of “made” mafia figures. Seemingly, they have been given the general public’s permission to say and do whatever they like, without consequence. This notion, perhaps, has been reflected in the couple’s hubris as of late.
But as a “power couple,” public friends and elbow rubbers with the First Family, purported philanthropists, business moguls, entertainment demigods, role models and trendsetters, should they take liberties such as publicly endorsing domestic violence to a snappy trap beat? Perhaps the better question is: should they be ALLOWED to?
I won’t go into the problems with Jay-Z thinking it most appropriate to describe how he treats his wife, or any other woman for that matter, with a reference to Mike Tyson and Ike Turner, the latter most known for how badly he abused Tina Turner, and then, if that allusion did not conjure up enough detail for you, go further to reference an exact scene in “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” in which Ike Turner forcibly smashes cake into Tina’s face and hits one of her back up singers to the ground, because simply mentioning these two men’s names just couldn’t provide enough imagery to express how he likes to treat his wife. Neither will I delve into how this problem was only exacerbated, made even worse by performing the song at the Grammy Awards — a public, trendsetting, global platform — or the Grammy’s accountability in regards making that allowance. No, I don’t feel the need to discuss how problematic any of those issues are.
Notably, I don’t necessarily consider myself a feminist. In fact, while there are some overall virtues, I take several issues with the various feminist movements. But I’d like to believe that any thinking person, regardless of any affiliations with various political or social groups, can understand the problems with Jay-Z’s lyric choice and Beyoncé’s endorsement of it.
Nevertheless, instead of pointing out Jay-Z’s reference and talking about how bad it is, the point of this article and what I consider to be the more pressing question is, have they reached so high of a public esteem amongst their fanbase and corporate allies that they are exempt from reprimand? Should they not be held accountable?
Lil’ Wayne’s and Rick Ross’s crude and inexcusable references to Emmitt Till, and date rape, respectively, received much public criticism and, in some ways, their careers suffered from it — rightfully so. The public decided the references they made were in such poor taste, that they needed to be held accountable. Will the same be true for the Carters? Or have they reached a level of success and support that exonerates them from all consequence?
Have Beyoncé and Jay-Z become the music industry’s “made” couple? Or are some things, regardless of how many friends you have in high places and how much money you’ve made other people, simply wrong and deserve repercussion?
Camille H. is a Writer, Educator, Lecturer and Public Speaker. Contact her at [email protected] and on twitter @_CamilleH