4:59 pm - 02/18/2013

Beyoncé Has Never Been Less Convincing About the Veracity of Her Pregnancy

Beyoncé Has Never Been Less Convincing About the Veracity of Her Pregnancy Than She Was in Her Own Movie

I never realized how not pregnant Beyoncé might have been until the Saturday premiere of her HBO documentary, Life Is But a Dream. Since announcing her pregnancy at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (in August of that year), there have been naysayers, referred to with tongue in cheek as "Beyoncé birthers." There was that footage of her apparently pregnant belly folding in on itself when she made an appearance on Australian TV in the fall of 2011. Months later, Beyoncé addressed it with a pithy explanation: "It was a fabric that folded - does fabric not fold? Oh my gosh, so stupid."

Life Is But a Dream covers a...period of time before the supposed birth of Beyoncé and Jay-Z's daughter, Blue Ivy. It's hard to say exactly how long because particulars like where and when are barely telegraphed – there's not a single explanatory chyron in the entire film. Cynically, I wonder if this is a sign of co-director Beyoncé's egocentrism; she assumes that we've been following her closely enough to know what she's talking about without bothering to explain certain key facts. Or maybe she thinks we can read her mind. Or maybe she's just not that great of a memoirist.

Regardless, it makes sense that given the time examined, Beyoncé's movie would chronicle Beyoncé's pregnancy and the controversy it birthed. The problem with Life Is But a Dream's treatment of her pregnancy isn't that it protests too much – it protests too weirdly. We never see a full, clear shot of Beyoncé's pregnant, swanlike body. Instead it's presented in pieces, owing to the limitations of her Mac webcam. When her body is shown in full, it's in grainy, black and white footage in which her face is shadowed.

Why, though? If you're going to present an image of your pregnant self to prove the naysayers wrong, why do it in such an obscure way? Why bother? The footage seems to exist to be described as "beautiful." Is it just art, or more lies?

That question could apply to the whole of Life Is But a Dream, in which the notoriously tight-lipped Beyoncé consciously unveils parts of her life and, in the process, reveals nothing. On firing her father, Matthew Knowles, as her manager, she says, "It was a stressful, sad, difficult time." Gee. Imagine. On her general feelings, she says, "If I'm scared, be scared, allow it, release it, move on." On her humanity, she says, "I know that people see celebrities, and they seem like they're so perfect - they seem like their life is so great, and they have money and fame. But I'm a human being. I cry. I'm very passionate and sensitive. My feelings get hurt. I get scared and nervous like everyone else." This last quote, by the way, came from a video message she recorded for journalists attending a listening session for her I Am...Sasha Fierce album in 2008. Prefab on top of prefab.

Much like in Madonna's Truth or Dare, there is a great sense of performance in Life Is But a Dream. Beyoncé Knowles is Beyoncé Knowles. But unlike Madonna, who got off on being bad and pushing buttons, Beyoncé's aesthetic is perfection. She lives to be admired, and the supposed grittiness in Life Is But a Dream exists so that we admire her more. Look at how critical Beyoncé is of herself when she watches herself! Look at how pretty she looks naturally! (Never mind that her several made-under looks clearly required makeup.) Listen to how well she articulates herself when presented softball questions by an interviewer that she hired for a movie she is orchestrating and directing!

Again, I wonder: Why bother? Is it all for money? Is the point to promote a brand? To keep fresh in minds for her imminent upcoming album? Maybe. But if you read Life Is But a Dream as sincere expression, it becomes something far weirder, the product of an extraordinarily talented, extraordinary bland person who is never not stilted. What if this were an accurate depiction of Beyoncé's limited, surface-level capacity to express herself in daily life that reaches savant-like highs only through her art? That is a fascinating life worth capturing.

Like the black-and-white footage of her supposedly pregnant self, all of Life Is But a Dream provokes more questions than it answers. We leave knowing nothing and talking and talking and talking, essentially doing the heavy-lifting for the privileged star. "All I need is not me, because I can't do it by myself," says Beyoncé on the makings of Beyoncé. It takes a nation to fuel a machine this big.

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funkytrain 18th-Feb-2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
for fucks sake this is still even a question?
shayme 18th-Feb-2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Really? This really annoys me. Especially after learning about her miscarriage. So fucking horrible.
zemi_chan 18th-Feb-2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
scheisse 18th-Feb-2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
yeah, her miscarriage which she coincidentally decided to talk about in her new documentary. bey's lied about worse.
shayme 18th-Feb-2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Wow. Jay also talked about it in Glory. Shut up.
ellenelles 18th-Feb-2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
carbons 18th-Feb-2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
what the fuck
screwhim 18th-Feb-2013 11:03 pm (UTC)
hpxstac 18th-Feb-2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
Wow. What a disgusting and simultaneously embarrassing comment.
arianagrande 18th-Feb-2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
captaintrash 21st-Feb-2013 04:37 am (UTC)
I don't see how anyone could sit through the footage of her talking about her miscarriage and how hurtful it was for people to question her pregnancy afterwards and STILL write an article like this. I don't give a shit if people are cynical about Beyonce as an entertainer, but like...basic human empathy should dictate that that this kind of speculation (besides the fact that it's totally without evidence) is really disrespectful to her as human.
What is she supposed to do, release footage of Blue Ivy crowning or some shit? jfc
queen_norleans 18th-Feb-2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Oh this is gonna be good.
pinkfunraven 19th-Feb-2013 02:24 am (UTC)
This gif gets me every single time! Prince needs his own reality show just for his expressions.
toilandblood 19th-Feb-2013 05:31 am (UTC)
ahh i love him
queen_norleans 19th-Feb-2013 05:41 am (UTC)
Me too, bb, me too.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
smittenfancy 20th-Feb-2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
Guh. Prince is so eternally sexy and fabulous. Forever want.
gaybash 18th-Feb-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
you're weird
noon 18th-Feb-2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
and i don't recognize you at all
hahahey 18th-Feb-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
xzackb 18th-Feb-2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
literally hew? @ these replies rn.
oblika_farika 18th-Feb-2013 11:34 pm (UTC)
sweet_honesty 19th-Feb-2013 04:39 am (UTC)
Well played, Noon, well played.
fauxparadiso 19th-Feb-2013 05:21 am (UTC)
lol not enough emails showing up in their inbox i suppose
mjspice 19th-Feb-2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
lestat 18th-Feb-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
ugh fuck this article
in_styles 18th-Feb-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
Eaux...but seriously. this documentary was bring as shit, lbr.
gaybash 18th-Feb-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
IA. Truly showcased Beyawnce in her natural state.
arianagrande 18th-Feb-2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
You mean boring? if so i agree.
ts231 19th-Feb-2013 12:37 am (UTC)
mte 11 minutes in i was bored
manaconda 18th-Feb-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
people are still trying this?
hahahey 18th-Feb-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
It's so weird how the bottom half of this article gives legit and believable criticism while the top half is a bunch of crap.
muzicnem 18th-Feb-2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
Agreed. The last part was interesting...the first just stupid.
marywebgirl 18th-Feb-2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
blue_birds 18th-Feb-2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
for real
melns 19th-Feb-2013 08:02 am (UTC)
came in to say this
queen_haq 18th-Feb-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
Fake pregnancy or not, that baby is fucking beautiful. I want to squish her chubby cheeks.
_quietriot_ 18th-Feb-2013 10:06 pm (UTC)
I still haven't seen this documentaary :/ really want to watchh it TBH.
gaybash 18th-Feb-2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
Talk into your macbook about boring shit and you can basically recreate the documentary yourself.
distant_lines 18th-Feb-2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
When those parts were happening and she said she did that to just get her thoughts and things out there all I could think was "Does no one journal anymore!?".
misoras 18th-Feb-2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
lol i watch too many youtube vlogs but i don't think i'd be able to watch that film.

maybe a highlight reel.
felixdharma 18th-Feb-2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
it's horrible, still prefer Britney For The Record. it seemed so fake and pretentious, she's really a fame-whore
poopanna 18th-Feb-2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing, even if it was all *~*FaKe~*~, who the fuck cares? This is a beaten horse. Beyonce doesn't owe anyone motherfuckin pictures of her fucking body.

Great journalism.
butt_or_skotch 18th-Feb-2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
IKR. Like even if she did use a surrogate, it's her business. It's not like she was profiting on her pregnancy. And the only way her using a surrogate would be truly messed up is if she was on the cover of US Weekly 2 weeks after "having a baby" posing with a caption saying HOW I GOT MY BODY BACK or I LOST 53lbs in TWO WEEKS AND YOU CAN TOO!

It was funny in the beginning because it was so over the top, now this surrogate thing is just tiring.
happythree 18th-Feb-2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
That bellying folding video is so ridic. She leaned forward, the loose fabric moved. If the dress was tight it might make sense for people to be like O FAKE BELLY. But damn people.

Edited at 2013-02-18 10:08 pm (UTC)
aaameeting 18th-Feb-2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
Keep telling yourself that
happythree 18th-Feb-2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
empirebird 18th-Feb-2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
I honestly don't know what people are seeing in that video. It looks like fabric folding over... I just can't.
noon 18th-Feb-2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
you literally just copy and pasted this comment from the gawker comments
gaybash 18th-Feb-2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
Been in the game since the 90s and still doesn't have any iconic performances/photoshoots/pop culture moments that will be remembered in 10 years time.
katiexxpie 18th-Feb-2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
lol so true
rinanina101 18th-Feb-2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
im a beyonce fan and this couldn't be any more true. honestly, the only thing she'll be remembered for is crazy in love. and im being generous with that.
tellthylove 18th-Feb-2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
as a bey fan.. this is true
heart_iswild 18th-Feb-2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
yep. and people try to say her music is iconic...um no. nothing about bey is iconic except for the single ladies music video which she apparently ganked from someone else

shoulda stuck with destiny's child
maskedcunt 18th-Feb-2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
i didn't even realize that until i saw this article but it's so true. though i don't really get how it's possible... her discography is lacking and her personal life is kept so private that people can't really connect with her, so why is she a superstar?

it's almost like we think she's iconic just because she's told us she is.
honey_fuggle 18th-Feb-2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
sweet_honesty 19th-Feb-2013 04:35 am (UTC)
Says the person with a Madonna icon.
cageyb 18th-Feb-2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine why her attempts to be a bit more personal still come off as awkward, guarded and stilted when her every human action becomes a source of extremely petty controversy-generating articles and think-pieces.
happythree 18th-Feb-2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
A mystery indeed.
mixswiss 18th-Feb-2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
right? like jesus fucking christ.
paarycia 18th-Feb-2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
lol ikr
saltireflower 18th-Feb-2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
Baffling isn't it...
nekokonneko 18th-Feb-2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
god only knows
captaintrash 21st-Feb-2013 04:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. People who criticize her for having a calculated persona don't realize that they're totally feeding into it by scrutinizing her for everything she does.
eaglefan2011 18th-Feb-2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
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