Ever since Beyoncé released her incredible new album Lemonade, the internet seems to have been bouncing off the walls. While getting excited for the incredible HBO short, the music, the lyrics, and the Beyoncé is totally valid, the collective effort to find and shame the now infamous “Becky” is completely inappropriate and shameful. Although the message of the album is pretty clear, it seems no one considered the idea that the story told by Lemonade could be fictionalized, and that Beyoncé may have written a visual novel rather than a mini autobiography/diary. But if we do agree that this album is about her and Jay-Z’s relationship, then let’s examine the second “cause for concern.”
Beyoncé has effectively put her private life in the public domain, and thus opened a pathway for fans and critics to indulge in conjecture regarding the contents of the album. As Trevor Noah points out, we are blaming Rachel Roy – the woman everyone believes to be Becky – for the presumed affair with Jay-Z. To start with, Jay-Z is a full grown man and fully capable of making his own decisions and mistakes. So let’s stop turning him into a victim of some malicious femme fatal. He is only a victim to a certain extent, I mean, he’s Jay-Freaking-Z, and he clearly makes his own decisions. Let’s not replay a scenario like the vilification of Monica Lewinsky, which happened because Bill Clinton couldn’t keep it in his pants.
While it was distasteful and incredibly immature of Rachel Roy to attempt to make light of someone else’s marital strife, it is also inappropriate for people who were not involved in the situation to shame her on the internet. I think we need to examine our own reactions to other people’s problems and our ‘twitter-happy’ tendency to attack people on someone else’s behalf.
As a society that places great importance on what is discussed online, we need to understand the potential destructive power of our words. We must understand that celebrities beneath the shiny patina are also human, make mistakes, and have feelings. The fact that we still need to tell people not to harass and bully others online is evidence of a sad state of affairs. And that half of these fans are bullying some unknown woman because they mistook Rachel Ray for Rachel Roy is a travesty. If you are going to attack someone online, at least make sure it’s the right person.
H/T to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for pointing out that we are all attacking the woman while ignoring Jay-Z’s involvement in his own affair.