bell hooks Offers Complicated Criticism on Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'

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bell hooks has a bit of a history with Beyoncé. In 2014, she drew criticism for saying that Beyoncé's image is anti-feminist and a "terrorist" for young women.

The noted cultural critic and scholar today published her thoughts on Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade.  The article titled "Moving Beyond Pain" explores what bell believes to be blind spots of the superstar's latest work.

hook reminds us not to forget that the work is a product for mass consumption, "this is the business of capitalist money making at its best."

But she offers the short film praise for the depth of its representation of Black women.

It is the broad scope of Lemonade’s visual landscape that makes it so distinctive—the construction of a powerfully symbolic black female sisterhood that resists invisibility, that refuses to be silent. This in and of itself is no small feat—it shifts the gaze of white mainstream culture. It challenges us all to look anew, to radically revision how we see the black female body. 

Ultimately, hooks does not believe that Beyoncé explores adequately the path to healing but embraces stereotypical tropes about Black woman and violence that are counterintiutive to the cause.

One of Lemonade's most memorable scenes finds Beyoncé skiping down a street singing "Hold Up" while wielding a baseball bat. The violence, hooks says, doesn't get us to liberation.

Contrary to misguided notions of gender equality, women do not and will not seize power and create self-love and self-esteem through violent acts.

And she underscores that without the wholeness of men, patriarchal domination will continue.

No matter how hard women in relationships with patriarchal men work for change, forgive, and reconcile, men must do the work of inner and outer transformation if emotional violence against black females is to end. We see no hint of this in Lemonade.

Be sure to read the entire essay.