Lauded a media genius, unmatched performer, and iconic symbol of black success, Beyoncé has become many things for many people. With the release of Lemonade (2016), audiences believed they had received even more intimate knowledge of Beyoncé, the private person. Grounded with the pain and struggles of ordinary people, she became more human and relatable. However, such conclusions are premised upon the assumption that Lemonade is autobiographical. In fact, we have no way of knowing which parts, if any, tell of her own experience, and we will probably never have that insight. A close reading of "Formation" exposes the contradictions at work in this manufactured intimacy. The song lyrics and video content are profoundly divergent; they send two different messages, and lack sensitivity toward survivors of traumatic events. The song itself continues to center Beyoncé, alluding to haters, paparazzi, and designer clothing. She ultimately places her stamp of approval on the same capitalist system that has oppressed generations of the same black people the song is said to empower.


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pp. 189-196
Launched on MUSE
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