Decency versus Artistic Expression

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono, published on 14 January 2010  Stock Image - image ID: 10011501, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono, published on 14 January 2010
Stock Image – image ID: 10011501, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

People had lots to say about Beyoncé’s performance, going as far as she’s nobody’s role model and the Grammy’s show was inappropriate. My mother, had an opinion along the same vein.

“She needs to put some clothes on. It’s getting old, she’s getting old,” my mother said, after watching a YouTube video of the mega star’s Grammy performance. I asked her to expound.

“She has a daughter now. Now, my girl Emeli Sande, she’s always dressed and it’s her voice that stands out.” I made my mother watch the entire Grammy performance, certain that once she saw Beyoncé’s dance routine, surely she’d feel differently – I mean the girl was straddling a chair for God’s sake! How on earth would she be able to do that with a long gown? My mother shot me a disapproving look and shook her head, “no.” In mom’s opinion, time’s up for Beyoncé’s body suits.

Clearly, we feel differently, and at first, I was quick to write it off as yet another difference of opinion between the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. But, something still nagged me about people’s reaction to Beyoncé’s performance.

I suppose she could have sung and straddled the chair in some biker shorts and still be sexy. But, why was it even an issue? Is America that moralistic that they could not stand to see a woman’s butt cheeks bumping on her husband’s frontal area? And, whatever happened to artistic expression and freedom? Is decency more important than an artist expressing themselves (even in a sexually charged song and dance)? 

Beyoncé is free to write, sing and perform whatever she wants to. If she wants to make a personal album detailing explicit moments between her and her husband, that’s most definitely okay. I want to hear it. Artists are not meant to fit a mold for the sake of being a role model. It’s the parents’ job to filter what their children should be listening and watching. It’s not Beyoncé’s or any other celebrity’s job to water down their artistic expression to spare someone.

I’m sure people will argue that little girls look up to her and she should save these type of performances for the bedroom. I disagree. She’s a role model not just to girls, but to women who fantasize about dancing for their man, and the world appreciating her body and her voice. She’s an excellent business woman and I’m sure a wonderful mother and wife. I appreciate her making art for herself. I think all artists have an obligation to create art just for their own appreciation.

Her performance was racy and beautiful. A woman singing for herself and to her husband, what an amazing thing. But, to appease my inherited moral compass, I tell mom, “yeah, she could put on a little more on the bottom.”

~Your Curator of all things Inspirational, Kimberly Jo Cooley

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