Beyoncé’s Homecoming special on Netflix was anything but.
The documentary/film was released to much fanfare on April 17th. I intentionally did not watch it when it came out. I find that there is an exceptional amount of hype surrounding anything this Texan talent does, so it skews judgment and doesn’t allow for honest assessments.
So, I usually give it a week or so before weighing in.
From Coachella To Beychella
After Beyoncé’s groundbreaking performance at Coachella last year (she was the first black woman to headline the festival), I knew she would do something with that performance. My suspicions were confirmed when it was announced that she was bringing a special to Netflix. It’s the first of a three-part deal that she has with the streaming platform.
I didn’t have high hopes after watching, and being let down by Beyoncé’s Life Is But A Dream documentary. I don’t know why she continues making films. She seems completely uncommitted to revealing her true herself. Either that or her true self is quite insipid. Everything seems to be incredibly sanitized and carefully curated.
So, this week, I logged on to Netflix and gave Homecoming a chance. I’ve never been to a homecoming event and I didn’t attend Coachella last year, so I was curious to see what she would do.
If you’re familiar with historically black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs, you’d be quite familiar with the over-the-top performances that take place at their homecoming events.
Beyoncé, who has been basking in her blackness over the past few years, has been unapologetic about putting black people to the forefront and exposing audiences to her culture. I love her for that.
My excitement level was high as it was the first big performance she has had since giving birth to her twins, Rumi and Sir.
The production level of the concert was slick – very well edited and visually appealing. Beyoncé’s band and backup dancers were on point. I loved the diverse cast that she put together and you could tell that the audience was loving every minute of her performance and the energy. But, as a television viewer watching from the comfort of my home, it simply went on for too long. I found myself saying, what next?
Beyoncé’s physical transformation was impressive, considering that she had given birth to not one, but two children less than a year before her performance. But, it quickly started to feel like a “been there, done that” performance.
Yes, Queen Bey can sing. We know that. She can dance. We know that, too. She knows how to engage with the audience. Okey-dokey. But, there was something missing. Something special. Something different.
There was no great variation to the dance routines; Beyoncé showcased the same look we have grown accustomed to since her Destiny’s Child days and she seems intent to flash the same Blue Steel face that I have seen on Derek Zoolander time and time again.
The film is peppered with some weird narration by Beyoncé that makes it feel like we’re watching the lost tapes of an entertainer who has passed away.
Queen Bey Has Regrets. But, It’s Hard To Believe Her.
We see Beyoncé rehearsing. She tells us that she feels out of it and had some difficulty with the routine because she was gone for a while. Understandable. But, she gets through it. She explains that she put herself on an incredibly restrictive diet (no alcohol, no meat, no fish, no dairy, no carbs) to lose the weight. She promises never to push herself to those limits again. We’ve seen and heard this all before.
Don’t’ forget, this is the same Beyoncé who put herself on a restrictive Master Cleanse lemonade diet to lose weight for her Dreamgirls film in 2006.
Later on, after giving birth to her daughter, Blue, she pushed herself to get ready for her Live at Roseland concert in 2011. So, I’m unlikely to believe that she won’t do this again. This is her M.O. It’s also very dangerous.
Throughout the film, we see images of Bey with her children. There was one tender moment that is seared in my mind because it was so beautiful. It was when she was done with rehearsals and spotted her twins. She walks over to hold and kiss them and mushes her face into theirs. See, even superstars turn to mush when they see their kids. I have to admit, that was a bit of a tearjerker. You can see just how much she loves her babies.
In the documentary, we learn that Beyoncé had a very difficult pregnancy and had to have an emergency C-section after one of her children’s heartbeats paused a few times. That must have been a scary scenario for her, as it would have been for any mother. It is further compounded by the fact that Beyoncé revealed that she suffered a miscarriage before finally getting pregnant with her daughter, Blue.
Where’s Jay-Z In All Of This?
Her husband, Jay-Z, makes a few cameos. But, he seems a bit like an afterthought in this film. There was no mention of his affair(s) – the catalyst for her highly celebrated Lemonade album, and his subsequent 4:44 album. He’s just there. We do get to see images of their vow renewal ceremony, though. The family looks beautiful.
I was really hoping to love this film. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to hear and see Beyoncé in her real environment. After all of these years in show business, we still don’t know who this woman is or what her true personality is. She doesn’t do interviews anymore so we’re at a loss.
Who are her friends, besides her family and the ladies of Destiny’s Child? What makes her angry? What does she do other than work and spend time with her family? Does she watch reality shows? What are her fears? We learn nothing other than what we already know – that she has an incredible work ethic. But, guess what? So does Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry. Lots of people work hard in the industry. What else is there to Beyoncé?
Members of the rabid Beyhive will say that this film was the greatest thing since penicillin. I’d hope that people would actually watch the film and be objective. I recently posted my disappointment in the film on Facebook and was surprised to see the amount of people who agreed. (FYI, I was fully prepared to be dragged to the four corners of the Earth by her fans).
I think it’s safe to say that I am done watching Beyoncé’s films. I am no longer interested in her private life and maybe that’s what she wants. If she gives us great music, I will support it. If the music is subpar, I won’t.
As for Homecoming, it was not what I expected and was quite boring, if I’m being totally honest. I appreciate Beyoncé’s ambition, but I think she needs to rethink these films. They are doing her an injustice.
Sadly, her undoing will be her desire to outdo herself.