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MTV’s once-popular The Diary Of was reality TV before reality TV was reality TV. But since the show disappeared from our screens, musicians have used reality television as well as documentaries to fill fans in on just about every detail of their professional and personal lives. For the first time, Beyoncé attempts to focus on the latter with her documentary, Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream.
Wearing boxbraids, barefoot and dressed down in a white shirt and jeans, Beyoncé, sitting on her couch, says: “When Nina Simone put out music, you loved her voice. That’s what she wanted you to love. That was her instrument. You didn’t get brainwashed by her day-to-day life, and what her child was wearing and who she was dating, all of these things… that is not your business. It shouldn’t influence the way you listen to the voice and the art,” she pauses for dramatic effect, “but it does.”
Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream (pictured) – billed as a documentary, but only leaning towards that – stars, was shot (in personal footage), directed, produced, narrated and distributed by Beyoncé (there’s no word on whether she provided the food catering too) and will be screened at Nu Metro cinemas countrywide for one week only.
Beyoncé shares diary entries (where she uses her MacBook to record her thoughts) and never-seen-before footage of dates with her husband, rapper, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, and talks about a miscarriage, time with her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, and a teeny-weeny bit more. The original Destiny’s Child member touches on topics that include her firing her father and rumours that she used a surrogate mother for BIC’s birth, but the most controversial topics aren’t given concrete explanations. For instance, she says her father needed boundaries. Vague.
I christened her BeBot for her knack of working like a robot while hiding her personality. Beyoncé dubbed herself the hardest-working woman in showbusiness. She was writing and singing number one hits, starring in big budget movies, performing all over the world and winning just about every award there was – even a journalist award (imagine!) – and we wondered if she ever slept. See? BeBot. Left, right and middle-centre, people wanted to know what the person behind the artist was really like. Would the real Beyoncé please stand up.
America’s music industry makes it easy for fans to get in touch with and know their favourite artists. I mean, come on, we even know exactly what 2 Chainz would like for his birthday, for crying out loud!
But Beyoncé was tardy for the social media party and up until she opened a hardly-used Twitter and instagram account and released this documentary, no one knew how she felt about gender equality and economy. For realz.
Of course, the Single Ladies singer sandwiches rehearsals and performances between slices of life on Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream. She shows us her musical instrument to a large extent, we know what her child is wearing and who she is married to – things that aren’t our business – but in the end, save for the poster child for good girls occasionally saying “shit”, there isn’t much that is new in this doccie.
It smacks of being fiercely guarded by someone who has always valued their privacy highly and isn’t remarkable by documentary standards. If you’re not well-versed on pop culture, you may enjoy this.
• Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream will be screened at selected Nu Metro cinemas across the country on March 1-7. Visit www.numetro.co.za to book or to find out if it is showing near you.