Why Are the Christian Right So Ready to Hate Beyoncé?

We all know people who act as though their music taste is inextricably linked to their superior intelligence – an assertion that’s bound up in some really nasty racist, misogynist and classist ideals. The bigger, badder version of these people go even further and say that music is tied to morality. And instead of kicking off about white-supremacist Scandinavian metal or rampant misogyny in the rock community, you’ll usually find them criticising black and minority artists, saving a special place for black women.This is what Matt Walsh’s piece in ‘The Blaze’ discussed last month. It followed hot on the heels of Beyoncé’s newest album ‘Lemonade’ as it dropped on her husband’s streaming platform - a move that will have added a fair few million more to that well-earned billion dollars on an elevator. Walsh’s critique of ‘Lemonade’ is by turns furious, preachy, exasperated and moralising; he laments that Beyoncé is ‘a franchise […] not interested in expressing anything true or beautiful or good’. Not only are her lyrics ‘banal and tiresome’, but ‘vulgar, ugly, manipulative and destructive’. This isn’t a simple album review but an attack on Beyoncé’s morality – something Matt Walsh seems to find lacking.

In one bizarre twist he denigrates her anti-white ‘racism’ and the fact she ‘dresses like a wealthy stripper’. This is where Walsh’s Christianity and conservatism intersect. The reason he expresses such vitriol towards Beyoncé is that ‘daughters’ (he refers to these daughters taking notes from the explicit version of ‘Lemonade’ quite often – because what’s more relatable to little girls than the complicated feelings that arise from infidelity within your marriage to a rap mogul?) are learning the wrong things from her songs. Things that are ‘weird, aggressive, sullen, whorish, egomaniacal, vaguely Satanic and deeply stupid’. There are so many hilarious adjectives that it’s difficult to know where to focus in that sentence (sullen?!) but the clear link between ‘whorish’ and ‘Satanic’ is something that bears further exploration.The message that Christianity tends to focus on is that of value. Everyone’s life is perfectly designed; everyone has a plan laid out for them, whether they know it or not. For young girls, the message that their whole being is perfect and ‘wonderfully made’ is one that carries clear benefits. However, the downside of having the divine pressure  to live up to the path God has laid out for you is that any mistakes you make can feel huge. The Christian Right discusses young women as if their very existence is corrupting. Articles on sites like ‘Life Teen’ and ‘Project Inspired’  tell girls that ‘even giving the appearance of sinfulness can seriously mess with other’s holiness’ and that they ought to ‘dress modestly’ to help boys who are ‘struggling with seeing you as an object’. Words such as ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ are used synonymously with ‘holiness’. When it comes to artists such as Beyonce, people like Matt Walsh see her discussion of sexuality as Satanic. This is a huge, alarming leap for young girls to bear witness to.It’s not just a Christian Right place that this criticism comes from, of course – it’s highly racialized. And there are so many horrible, heart-breaking consequences when the media say that black people’s art is not ‘true or beautiful or good’. Walsh’s article is so over-the-top that it’s no wonder it’s blown up on social media, but the fact that these messages are so recognisable and commonplace in journalism is worrying in the extreme.

 

Edited by Tia Ralhan

Image sources:

http://www.lowefactor.com/mesmerizing-fashion-looks-beyonces-lemonade/

http://mtv.tumblr.com/post/110517114775/look-at-her-look-at-her-watch-her-full-grammy

http://mtv.tumblr.com/post/95701315355/vma

http://giphy.com/gifs/beyonce-lemonade-l3V0mcUKWL45mAo24