Beyonce by Beyonce is just how her fans like it

The Washington PostDecember 3, 2012 

Celebrities tend to be self-involved. To some extent, they have to be. When you make a living that focuses largely on your own image, and how you present that image to the public, there is a natural tendency to become a bit wrapped up in one’s own uber-glamourous, ultra-famous ego.

Still, some might feel Beyonce is taking ego to a new level with her coming TV movie.

HBO confirmed Tuesday that it plans to air in February “Beyonce: A Documentary Special,” an “intimate, feature-length” portrait of Beyonce that was directed by Beyonce, executive-produced by Beyonce and shopped around by Beyonce a few months ago.

And it raises a question: At what point does a celebrity’s effort to control her own brand start to work against her?

The trick for a big-time celebrity is to manage her image in a way that seems authentic in a climate in which authenticity is more valued than ever. In other words, she – and her team, of course – must create a positive public perception of herself without seeming to make an effort. Actresses such as Emma Stone and Sandra Bullock are very good at this. As for Beyonce, I’d argue that a different set of rules apply to her. Let’s call them Diva Rules.

She has carefully built herself into a symbol of take-charge female empowerment. Starring in a movie about herself that she’s entirely responsible for crafting is 100 percent consistent with that image. Same goes for the queen of image control, Madonna, as well as Lady Gaga.

“Beyonce: A Documentary” almost certainly will generate some buzz. But it won’t be an honest portrait of Beyonce, because it can’t be. No one can hold up a mirror to herself, orchestrate how the reflection appears and call it something true.

Beyonce’s brand is diva and, as she told us in her song of the same name, “A diva is a female version of a hustla.” Beyonce’s fans don’t care whether she’s really showing them an unfiltered, complete portrait of who she is. They just want to see their girl run the world, and run Beyonce, Inc. By making “Beyonce: A Documentary Special,” she’s giving her people exactly what they want.

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