When Life Gives Her Lemons… Beyonce Makes Lemonade
Beyonce’s HBO spectacle, Lemonade, opens with the words “Intuition” printed on the screen in white text. The camera pans on what appears to be an old southern plantation located in Louisiana. Suddenly we can hear Beyonce from offscreen saying, “I tried to make a home out of you. But doors lead to trap doors. A stairway leads to nothing. Unknown women wander the hallways at night.” This sets the tone for Beyonce’s Lemonade. A 56 minute film mixed with music, emotion, southern voodoo, and feminism.
Chapter Two, entitled “Denial”, is about denying the fact that someone is being unfaithful to you. Another voiceover is played, “ I tried to change, closed my mouth more. Tried to be soft, prettier. Less…awake.” Suddenly Beyonce emerges from a large regal building onto what seems to be a heavily populated street in a city. She sings of infidelity. Singing lyrics like, “What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy? / Jealous or crazy? / Or like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately / I’d rather be crazy”
Chapter Three of the special is entitled “Anger”. At this point in the film, it has become quite clear that some sort of infidelity was committed, but the part is still unknown. Once again we hear another voice over, “If this what you truly want, I can wear her skin…over mine. Her hair, over mine. We can pose for a photograph. All three of us, immortalized. You and your perfect girl.” The music becomes ominous, and faint. A steady drum beat can be heard which fades into the song, “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” featuring Jack White. The song is filled with passion and anger. Beyonce sings about her Father’s infidelities with her Mother, and how it relates to the infidelities that we now find out her husband Jay Z commited. She sings about how she has been disrespected, and suddenly the music stops. We hear a clip from a speech from the late Malcolm X. “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.” The music returns and her vocals get harsher and harsher as she continues to sing.
When chapter three transitions into chapter four, suddenly we lose all color, and the screen goes black and white. Young black women sit on the inside of what appears to be a small city bus. They are covered in white body paint with tribal patterns. Suddenly the shot changes to what appears a large gothic southern home on a plantation. The camera cuts to beyonce sitting in what appears to be a large black throne, as tennis star Serena Williams struts around the house dancing to the lyrics, “I ain’t sorry. I ain’t thinking about you,” which are repeated throughout the song. The bridge of the song features the lyrics, “I left a note in the hallway / by the time you read it I’ll be far away”, and, “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair”. Beyonce is being ruthless and she isn’t sorry, she leaves her throne for no one, not even a self proclaimed king.
Chapter is four is darker. Instead of black white, we only see shades of red and black, this chapter is entitled “Emptiness”. Beyonce is in the back seat of a car, her face is covered by the brim of a large hat. The song “6 Inch,” featuring The Weeknd is playing. The song is about Beyonce realising that she can have just as much fun without Jay Z, because she is an independant woman. The lyrics, “Six inch heels, she walked in the club like nobody’s business / Goddamn, she murdered everybody and I was her witness.” On the surface it sounds like Beyonce is referencing a stripper, when she is actually referencing all working women. Weather or not the woman is a corporate head or a stripper she is still a woman who is in it for the money, and she is worth every dollar she owns. In the bridge Beyonce describes the woman as someone who works from Monday to Friday, and grinds from Friday to Sunday.