All The Sh*t I Do Is Boring
This post does not apply to those who self-identify as unruly or rebellious. You're already doing things right, please carry on.
The rest of us do a lot of things because we're expected to. At first, we do it out of necessity − to be validated by parents and teachers, to fit in with peers, get a job, and build a career. At some point the things that are expected become the only things we know how to do, and then one day we wake up (hopefully).
We wake up to find the things that are expected - or accepted - aren't actually rewarding. That being original, even if at times unpopular, is much better than following the status quo. In that moment we're forced to make a choice... one where we continue on complacently while quietly acknowledging the disservice we perform, or one that feels uncomfortable at first but ends up being gloriously and unexpectedly rad.
This process typically occurs as a slow shift that others only notice over time; at most it might be an evolution visible in real-time to family and friends. Rarely do we get to watch someone wake up publicly but when it happens, It. Is. Awesome.
It was December 13, 2013 when a photo rocketed out of one of the world's most well behaved pop icons’ Instagram accounts with a single word - "surprise." With this post Beyonce publicly outed herself as bored saying, "honestly, I was at a point where I felt like, you know, everything feels the same, like what I said in 'Ghost': 'All the shit I do is boring.' That's how I felt. If I could not challenge that, then maybe it was time for me to do something else." So, she listened to that voice and used her new album and its release to teach us all a lesson about fiercely destroying convention.
This post doesn't aim to address the brand of feminism Bey does or does not fit into (it's been done expertly here and here), or to critique whether or not the content of her songs deserves to be regarded as anything more noble than "pop" music. Let’s now take a look at a few ways Bey took it to a whole 'nother level by "torching the veil of her carefully crafted image" in favor of something honest and brave.
A visual album built for a digital world.
Finally a record anchored in engrossing digital content instead of a single with an over-produced music video. Beyonce prioritizes video content (17 videos) over audio tracks (14 songs), there's a five part mini-feature on YouTube about the story behind the album, not to mention the press appearance at New York School of Visual Arts where audience questions were submitted via Instagram and the whole thing was filmed and posted to Facebook. An all around killer album experience and digitally savvy way to roll.
A female pop star who doesn't shy away from the notion of Feminism
"More than the music, I'm proud of myself as a woman for taking the risks. The biggest message is owning your imperfections and all the things that make you interesting, because I refuse to allow someone to put me in anybody's box." Boom. It should be every woman's right to do things her way; own her own image; and be smart, sexy, and imperfect all at once, regardless of the type of feminist she does or does not consider herself to be.
An artist who happily abandoned traditional PR and marketing believing that fans craved something more original
I loved this quote from the LA Times about Beyonce's unconventional launch: "The move is stunning, and virtually unheard of, especially considering how the hype machine -- singles, performances, interviews etc. is often treated as equally, if not more important, than the work itself." In an interview from the Director's Screening she weighs in saying, "I really, really wanted to surprise people and for them to hear the art in it and have it not be about the hype and promotion." Every brand should take a note from her playbook: in a world where marketing is little more than a formula, out of the ordinary experiences rarely go unappreciated.
Did Beyonce’s reputation as one of the world’s most famous celebrities predispose her album to success? Yes. Did her willingness to wake up in front of the whole world teach us a lesson about how to be brave about who we really are? Yes. Did it prove that she’s Flawless? Hell yes.