All but her grammar skills, her songwriting ability and who knows what her real hair looks like...No tea, no shade...Sure she she has 17 Grammy's, has conned the world into believing that her performances are fresh and new, she sings live, writes all her songs, creates all the concepts of her shows, justifies shilling for hair dye while wearing a wig, promoting a "fashion line" that is fit for ladies of the night, a creole lover of popeye's chicken, a hijacker of Destiny's Child, and a commander of the 5th grade vernacular. She commands the devout and a dangerous brand of sycophancy that places her dangerously close to godlike status among her many worshipers.
Sunday, little Ms. Private decided to "let the world in" and show us her private life and see her vunerable side. This of course came after she decided to join Instagram, Facebook and other social media after about 10 years behind the curve. What exactly did we see? A sanitized view of Beyonce' in the most positive light possible that was as controlled as possible. Oprah has sang her praises and basically equated her to Mother Theresa reincarnated. This is the same person that pretended that she wasn't seeing Joe Camel for years long after the world knew they were in fact dating and bumping uglies. This is the person that turned the mic's down on Michelle and Kelly at the Superbowl, and forced them into singing one of her solo song about *snicker* Independence. What about the time she admitted to being a raging narcissist?
Anytime she wants to remind herself of all that work--or almost anything else that's ever happened in her life--all she has to do is walk down the hall. There, across from the narrow conference room in which you are interviewing her, is another long, narrow room that contains the official Beyoncé archive, a temperature-controlled digital-storage facility that contains virtually every existing photograph of her, starting with the very first frames taken of Destiny's Child, the '90s girl group she once fronted; every interview she's ever done; every video of every show she's ever performed; every diary entry she's ever recorded while looking into the unblinking eye of her laptop. ... Beyoncé's inner sanctum also contains thousands of hours of private footage, compiled by a "visual director" Beyoncé employs who has shot practically her every waking moment, up to sixteen hours a day, since 2005. ... This digital database, modeled loosely on NBC's library, is a work in progress--the labeling, date-stamping, and cross-referencing has been under way for two years, and it'll be several months before that process is complete. Yeah, that sounds perfectly normal to me...
How about the countless plaigerism lawsuits? Every album she get's slammed for stealing choreopgraphy, video and show concepts, and entire songs from lesser known artists without so much as giving them a credit or a mention in the liner notes.
She also covered her alleged pregnancy in the documentary with footage of the baby folding in on itself. Beyonce' had an explanation for that. "It was a fabric that folded - does fabric not fold? Oh my gosh, so stupid." If we were to believe the pregnancy story then we would be stupid.
It's hard to say exactly how long because particulars like where and when are barely telegraphed – there's not a single explanatory chyron in the entire film. Cynically, I wonder if this is a sign of co-director Beyoncé's egocentrism; she assumes that we've been following her closely enough to know what she's talking about without bothering to explain certain key facts. Or maybe she thinks we can read her mind. Or maybe she's just not that great of a memoirist.
Why, though? If you're going to present an image of your pregnant self to prove the naysayers wrong, why do it in such an obscure way? Why bother? The footage seems to exist to be described as "beautiful." Is it just art, or more lies?
That question could apply to the whole of Life Is But a Dream, in which the notoriously tight-lipped Beyoncé consciously unveils parts of her life and, in the process, reveals nothing. On firing her father, Matthew Knowles, as her manager, she says, "It was a stressful, sad, difficult time." Gee. Imagine. On her general feelings, she says, "If I'm scared, be scared, allow it, release it, move on." On her humanity, she says, "I know that people see celebrities, and they seem like they're so perfect - they seem like their life is so great, and they have money and fame. But I'm a human being. I cry. I'm very passionate and sensitive. My feelings get hurt. I get scared and nervous like everyone else." This last quote, by the way, came from a video message she recorded for journalists attending a listening session for her I Am...Sasha Fierce album in 2008. Prefab on top of prefab.
Much like in Madonna's Truth or Dare, there is a great sense of performance in Life Is But a Dream. Beyoncé Knowles is Beyoncé Knowles. But unlike Madonna, who got off on being bad and pushing buttons, Beyoncé's aesthetic is perfection. She lives to be admired, and the supposed grittiness in Life Is But a Dream exists so that we admire her more. Look at how critical Beyoncé is of herself when she watches herself! Look at how pretty she looks naturally! (Never mind that her several made-under looks clearly required makeup.) Listen to how well she articulates herself when presented softball questions by an interviewer that she hired for a movie she is orchestrating and directing!
Again, I wonder: Why bother? Is it all for money? Is the point to promote a brand? To keep fresh in minds for her imminent upcoming album? Maybe. But if you read Life Is But a Dreamas sincere expression, it becomes something far weirder, the product of an extraordinarily talented, extraordinary bland person who is never not stilted. What if this were an accurate depiction of Beyoncé's limited, surface-level capacity to express herself in daily life that reaches savant-like highs only through her art? That is a fascinating life worth capturing.
Like the black-and-white footage of her supposedly pregnant self, all of Life Is But a Dream provokes more questions than it answers. We leave knowing nothing and talking and talking and talking, essentially doing the heavy-lifting for the privileged star. "All I need is not me, because I can't do it by myself," says Beyoncé on the makings of Beyoncé. It takes a nation to fuel a machine this big.