Top Five Stupidest Headlines About Beyoncé’s Lemonade

by Justine Barron

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Beyoncé’s new movie-album, Lemonade, has generated a lot of internet discussion thanks to its thoughtful, dense, and brave artistry and/or passing reference to a possible hook-up. With all of the virtual noise around this album, I have picked out a handful of headlines and articles for commendation as especially dense.

Complex Magazine: Did Jay Z and Beyoncé Develop the “LEMONADE” Storyline Together?

Ah Complex Magazine, with your sheen of respectability. You have won the prize for not only the least thoughtful article, but the most offensive headline -and I don’t even mean your alarming use of all caps.

Yes, Complex. When a woman creates a multi-faceted and ambitious work of art, you should absolutely try within the span of a few short non-paragraphs to dismiss its value as many times as possible. You should deny her artistic abilities or intentions and shift the discussion to her husband and baby. Jay Z’s involvement in Lemonade seems to be the latest dumb theme in many articles on the album today. The reverse has never happened: she has gotten no credit for his work.

According to Complex, Beyoncé is just manipulating gossip to sell records. Someone like Kanye West makes a personal artistic statement with every word or shoe, but Beyoncé is merely a “calculating” performer, guided by her Svengali husband. Yes, it just makes sense that Jay Z would ask his wife to portray him as a thoughtless monster to sell more albums. I imagine the two of them, laughing while scheming over how well the angry Somali-British revenge poetry that Beyoncé quotes would play on the radio.

Consequence of Sound: “Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Lesson On Appreciating Art That Wasn’t Made For You

Another hour, another think piece around who is racially permitted to enjoy or talk about Lemonade. Here, we have a writer who desperately wants African-American women to know that she gets it. She gets that… she doesn’t get it! She goes on and on about how she doesn’t get it, how most of us don’t get it, and how we should listen to black women more. Is this what “listening more, talking less” is supposed to look like?

I’m not saying I’m not interested in what black women have to say about Lemonade! I want to read that all day. But when is the last time the topic of who can understand music came up for Coldplay? (“Let’s hear from the emo white men. Everyone else, shhh.”)

“As a Singaporean Chinese woman, I would be lying if I said I was familiar with the complex, myriad ways Beyoncé explores black female personhood, sexuality, and spirituality in the film,” she writes. Maybe read some more about the black experience, and you will be more familiar.

“White people in particular have been confused about how to react to such a masterfully crafted piece of art.” Speak for yourself. You sound “in particular” confused. I felt a lot of things watching Lemonade, including wanting to die and regret over previous anti-Beyoncé tweets. I didn’t feel confused.

Based on the writer’s premise, Beyoncé should not give her opinions on Bob Dylan or Coldplay (my stand in for white music, I guess), and I should stop pretending I understand Shakespeare or Toni Morrison, stop crying when I watch Nashville, and only really connect with works created by other agnostic Jewish American adult women. Nothing else has been “made for me.” I sure hope Shiri Appleby makes more TV shows.

It’s almost like the writer didn’t really watch Lemonade, in a human-feeling kind of way. Doesn’t every work, by every person, deserve that?

The AV Club: “Beyoncé’s Lemonade Isn’t a Breakup Album. It’s a Black Album.”

First of all, I thought Lemonade wasn’t a break-up album because Beyoncé and Jay Z stay together in the end. Did anyone actually watch this thing?

The AV Club follows all the major rules in clickbait headline writing: Shame the audience by correcting an assumption they probably don’t have. Indicate that you get it and they don’t. Provocative language. Two short sentences. Remember when journalism classes taught the opposite?

The article follows in the same tone: “Beyoncé’s Lemonade is a black album. Before we can talk about the visuals, the poetry, the symbolism, or anything else, we have to start with the premise of blackness.” The problem is that the article actually goes on to explain the “premise of blackness” as a “collection of experiences and signifiers centered around black womanhood” and to list them. So we are talking about the visuals, poetry, symbolism…?

This isn’t a thoughtless article, beyond the clickbait opening. I especially enjoyed the writer’s story about when her Great Aunt found out that her husband was cheating: She offered him some lemonade, but then brought out her shotgun instead. That wouldn’t happen in my family. We would just scream and slit our wrists. So Lemonade feels personal to this writer, as an African-American woman. I get that.

It’s frustrating what happens when a writer’s interesting perspective gets swallowed up by the black and white thinking (so to speak) of clickbait headline writing. In this media environment, good writers are compelled to make more big statements and fewer beautiful ones.

Uproxx: “Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ Is About As Authentic As Usher’s ‘Confessions’

Didn’t Uproxx used to only post videos with the headline, “You won’t believe when you see what this person did…?” Now it has opinions. The latest incarnation of Uproxx, according to Wikipedia, is “a news and discussion website that is geared toward millenials, specifically males aged 18–34.” Phew! That group is finally covered.

It comes as little surprise, then, that this article isn’t sympathetic to a work that threatens their target audience’s importance in the world. According to Uproxx, Beyoncé is calculating, false, inauthentic, in cohoots with her husband, etc., etc. Yawn. But here is where the thoughtless transcends itself: The article’s only real proof is that twelve years ago another black artist wasn’t actually telling his own story on an album produced and written by entirely different people.

I could care less what anyone has to say about the authenticity of Lemonade at this point, especially males aged 18–34. The recycled information points to nobody knowing anything about what is really up with Beyoncé. I watched the movie-album, and I had strong emotions and thoughts. That’s all I require in art. I do give Uproxx credit for its unique clickbait. I miss Usher. I had to know.

The Independent: “If you’re wondering who ‘Becky with the good hair’ is after listening to Beyoncé’s Lemonade, I have some answers for you.

Everyone wants to know who is really behind Beyoncé’s brief passing reference to the generic name for white girls. Google offers about 1,250,000 results f0r “Beyoncé Lemonade Becky,” but this article is finally going to clear it up. This is so likely!

First, the article has to get through hundreds of words that repeat all of the Beckys we’ve been hearing about, including Rachel, Rita, and so on. Then, suddenly, there’s a twist: the writer doesn’t know who Becky actually is in real life. Instead, she wants us to stop talking about it. It’s misogynistic to focus on the other woman, the writer says. That’s just women beating down women. So we should disregard the last six paragraphs, I guess.

What a roller coaster ride. It’s like The Independent wants to tease me and shame me at the same time. I didn’t see it coming.

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