I’m making an attempt to keep up with commentary about Bey’s superbowl performance (mainly so I can use it later in blogging/article writing). I haven’t watched the Beyonce performance from last night (that’s on today’s to-do list, thanktehinterwebs), so I may have my own things to say about it later…
Over in the NYer, @sfj says:
“There’s a difference between being the object of everyone’s gaze and constantly recreating the reason the gaze is there.”
“Beyoncé is exactly what we know, and it is more remarkable every time she just goes and does it, as if to always obscure the fact that she had to come up with herself first, before we knew her.”
Beyonce is not a passive scopophilic object (neither is any female performer). However, I worry that this gazer/gazed logic remains, well, “cinematic” in a post-cinematic age. This comment also sits oddly with the fact that before Frere-Jones says anything concrete/specific about Bey’s performance—beyond how ‘great’ it was—he comments first on her wardrobe…I wonder too if his objections to the busy, overloaded visual aesthetic is also evidence of a more traditionally “cinematic” framework behind his analysis?
In the NYT, John Caramancia says:
“These are Beyoncé’s little pokes. She’s not the sort to resort to vulgarity, or subversion, or insubordination. She retaliates with intensity and fervor, and the sort of wink that doesn’t invite a reply.”
This is a good description of Beyonce’s critical strategy in general. The both/and sort of critical doubleness that superficially reads as conformity but, at a more nuanced level, is anything but.
“Beyoncé the machine had made her point. This was proof of life.”
Was it, though? Maybe B’s flawlessness is only possible from “machines”? (E.g., “Our music is simple, it’s totally fake/It’s played by machines/cuz they don’t make mistakes”). Think also of the “laser beam eyes Bey” meme going around teh interwebs today. Why read this as proof of “life,” other than the fact that she (probably) sung lots of this live. Doesn’t it take a real machine —a performer so highly trained and expertly rehearsed that this all happens as second-nature, like a pre-programmed protocol—to perform so consistently, so perfectly? In other words: doesn’t it take a “machine” to sing “live”? Bey has to be more rehearsed, more disciplined, more plugged-in (and out) to the audio grid, just to do a passable live performance than she would if she were lip-synching.