Word of Beyonce's appearance on Time's list of the hundred most influential people has finally reached straw-boater-wearing Saturday Evening Post music critic Bill O'Reilly, and he is not pleased. He's convinced that Beyonce is most certainly not empowering and quite probably encourages teen pregnancy, especially among young black women.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
O'Reilly has been bitching about Bey since "Partition," when he fussed to Russell Simmons that, "She puts out a new album with a video that glorifies having sex in the back of a limousine. Teenage girls look up to Beyoncé, particularly girls of color." Because
feuds with pop stars are good for ratings he's genuinely concerned about the young women of America, he trotted out the topic once more in the wake of her Time appearance. Via the Guardian:
"The 'empowering' stuff is just so much garbage," said O'Reilly. "Empowering what? She sings songs." In fact, the Fox news host thinks Beyoncé has a "negative influence" on young girls, "especially those who do not have parental supervision. [There are] cultural deficits … not only [in] black precincts, but in poor, white precincts and Hispanic precincts with unsupervised children … Beyoncé is part of that problem."
Never mind that Beyonce is almost certainly far, far more personally invested in the fates of young women, especially young black women, than Bill O'Reilly. Yes, it's definitely Beyonce who's the problem (via video on Slate):
"She knows, this woman knows that young girls getting pregnant in the African-American community now, it's about 70% out of wedlock. She knows, and doesn't seem to care... that's my problem with her." Heaven forbid anybody mention the existence of sex until teen pregnancy vanishes from the earth. If we all pull together and refuse to talk about sex, no teenager will ever get pregnant again.
It's just so rote. Oh, a black woman released a song that mentions sex? Somebody get me stats on teen pregnancy in the black community, stat! Pay no attention to the fact that Beyonce's life is, like, the best case for marriage going. She's basically a hipper version of those Sunday school teachers who talk about how great sex with your husband is—but it's got to be the right guy!!!
Bill O'Reilly refuses to see the forest for the trees, here. Popular music is full of songs about sex. Beyonce's album stands out not because she sings about sex on the kitchen floor or blowjobs in the back of a limo, but because she's singing about doing what she feels comfortable doing—neither shrinking into herself for fear Fox News might disapprove nor being pressured by some entitled boyfriend. She's in command of her sexuality. It's hers. The idea that women can't be both role models and sexual human beings is a fallacy.
But, like so many others, O'Reilly is also willfully blind to everything that's not sexual about Beyonce. She's earned her reputation with songs like "Grown Woman" and "Run the World (Girls)." That's why she's so beloved. She sampled feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on an album that appeared out of nowhere to hijack pop culture for a week solid. For Christ's sake, she was just named the highest-paid black artist of all time.
She's out there telling women, especially those vulnerable girls O'Reilly professes to be so worried about, to go get it. Get money. Get a partner who's got your back. Get the life you want, the life you deserve, because you matter.
But why should Bill O'Reilly bother spending a couple of hours actually reading up on Beyonce when he could just let fly with his usual prejudiced, poorly informed schtick? There's pots to stir! Viewers to anger!
Meanwhile, Beyonce is busy planning a summer tour of America's stadiums with her husband.