Bill O'Reilly, who — according to Bill O'Reilly — has always gone out of his way to serve underprivileged youth, is not a fan of Beyoncé's sexy jam "Partition," not because there are no references in the song to his own sexual preferences (laying a "falafel" on someone's "pussy"), but because he thinks it sets a bad example for young black girls.
Sitting down with Russell Simons, the Fox News anchor complained:
"Explain this: Beyoncé...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...Why on Earth would this woman do that? Why would she do it when she knows the devastation that unwanted pregnancies...and fractured families — why would Beyoncé do that?"
While Simmons attempted to bring the focus back to the book he was there to promote by telling O'Reilly that Beyoncé is an artist whose work reflects the culture we're living in, the host wasn't having it.
"You're dodging the question,"he badgered, somehow failing to realize that only person who could actually answer the question Why would Beyoncé do that? is Beyoncé herself. "I believe an entertainer like Beyoncé and a mogul like you have an obligation to protect children. Not put out exploitive garbage that you know harms impressionable children. I think Beyoncé — what she has done here — is inexplicable and I'm asking you, Russell Simmons, to explain it to me."
Simmons responded by stating that, with his own children, he's not worried about the big scary threat of pop music because his "daughters make choices based on the inspiration we give them as parents."
"But you're a good father," O'Reilly jumped in. "...What about the kids who don't have an amazing mother and an okay father? What about them?"
Screaming subtext: Bill O'Reilly is talking about his perception of black families, a familial structure on which he — an old, conservative, white dude — is the foremost expert.
Of course, what O'Reilly unsurprisingly fails to consider is that Beyoncé becoming her own sexual agent is, in it's own way, a very radical and important notion. Then there's the fact that the man she sings about having sex with in "Partition" is her partner of 10 years, husband Jay Z. The couple — at least outwardly — display all the monogamous values that many ascribe to the "traditional" American couple only, for people like O'Reilly, that's still not good enough. Why? Maybe because Jay Z and Beyoncé are black and therefore can never fit the mold of what is "right."
As Trudy wrote on Gradient Lair last May:
Heterosexual Black women are still deemed sexually deviant, even if they have the privilege that lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans* Black women do not. Thus, Beyoncé being sexual with her art, despite being in a highly heteronormative, presumably monogamous, heterosexual marriage and being a mother is not "enough" to deem her "respectable."
Of course, what Trudy was writing about then was white feminists' negative reaction to Beyoncé's sexuality, but it applies just as well here. In either situation, we have a person or group of people attempting to ascribe their own limited world view onto a population, all while ignoring and/or refusing to recognize that population's nuances and history.
But forget all that! O'Reilly's just doing it because he cares and because he understands the black experience and what the black community needs far better than Beyoncé or Russell Simmons ever could.
Anyway, congratulations, young black women! You have a new champion! Resurrect the Combahee River Collective and make Bill O'Reilly your king!
You can watch the O'Reilly/Simmons interview here. Or you can skip it and watch the "Partition" video instead.