Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Diva Takes a Dive

Beyonce, say it ain't so - say you did not lip-sync our national anthem at President Obama's 2nd inauguration. Then again, don't bother. We wouldn't believe you anyway.

While watching Beyonce sing at the inauguration, I imagined someone taking her picture and sending it in a time capsule beyond the moon. That way, any aliens passing by could look in and know what a woman looks like.

That is the beauty of Beyonce. No wonder people in entertainment are coming to her defense. Why wouldn't they? Besides being the face of their industry, she mirrored moments when they, too, have lip-synced; or will do so in the future. But not one of them has ever done it at a presidential inauguration - wouldn't dare! Isn't it interesting that it took a black woman - at the only black president's inauguration - to do such a thing. Had it been a white person faking it thus, imagine the outcry at such lack of respect.

One insider said Beyonce "did not have time to rehearse with the Marine Corps band, so she decided to use a recording." Didn't have time? Whose fault is that? I tell my children, when someone tells you they don't have time, what they are saying is, "that is not important enough to me." When something matters, we make time.

Then, it could be a matter of courage. It takes courage to sing a song, especially when that song will mark a preeminent moment in a nation's history. Singing a song is not like reciting a poem, or delivering a speech. Songs have a breadth and depth to them that commands time and space. A song can get away from a singer, or refuse to come at all. Beyonce was anxious. I imagine Kelly Clarkson, who also performed at the inauguration, was anxious, too. But courage is not the absence of fear; courage is acting despite that fear. It is as though Beyonce decided, "Since I cannot be sure of a flawless performance, I will fake a flawless performance." That's not courage, Beyonce; that is vanity.

Beyonce did not just cheat the president at his inaugural, and all of the people in attendance, besides; she cheated herself. It is the difficult moments in our lives - and how we face them - that define who we are. When people rise to the occasion, special things happen. Beyonce may have flubbed the anthem had she tried to sing it - many have in the past. Or, she may have belted out the greatest performance of her life - it could have been one for the ages. Instead, her moment on stage has become a vacuum wherein historic disappointments shall be stored.

This is not simply a matter of lip-syncing; it is a matter of trust. Baseball is riddled with distrust - who used steroids, who did not; cycling is prostrate. Now, Beyonce has wakened the ghost of Milli Vinilli. We question anew Whitney Houston's performance of the national anthem at the '91 Super Bowl. We wonder about Marvin Gaye at that NBA All-star game. And that angelic-voiced child at the college basketball game - did she, or didn't she? Next, we will even question Ray Charles' rendition of "America the Beautiful." Then we will have hit a new low. We are becoming afraid to trust.

People do not go to the ballpark to see film of their favorite player hitting home runs. They go so see if he can do it in real time. Beyonce was presented with one of the history's great moments, and she responded with a recording of herself. Some are beginning to wonder if her performance of "At Last" at Obama's 1st inaugural (ball) was not lip-synced. She shall forever be suspect now - for past, and for future performances; so, too, will here fellow entertainers.

Beyonce has no excuse _ Kelly Clarkson removed all excuses when she stood in the breach and belted out "My Country Tis of Thee." I may not put Kelly's picture in that time capsule alongside Beyonce's. But, when the heat is on, I want Kelly beside me in the trenches; she has more heart.