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Popularity and power. The two have always shared a symbiotic relationship: the greater your popularity, the higher your level of likeability, which in turn speaks to your capacity to sway others to your viewpoint. Hence, power. From a political, corporate or even “playground prevalence” perspective, it’s a notion that makes perfect sense. Survival of the fittest and all that.
But when did swaying your hips in skimpy attire while plastered with enough flaw-hiding make-up to put a paint shop out of business become tantamount to power?
The question comes on the back of Forbes Magazine having released its annual Celebrity 100 list, in which Beyonce is named in the No 1 spot, purportedly positioning her “as not only one of the world’s most influential people; she’s also the world’s most powerful celebrity”.
Her music (which, with apologies to a former colleague who’s a die-hard fan, is pretty much like every other sound you’ve heard, put together in a clever marketing package) isn’t the sole reason for this new-found status, we’re told. It’s her sideline pursuits in the perfume and clothing industry, as well as collaborations with soft drink giant Pepsi, that make her worthy of the title. Oh, and “her virtually flawless performance at the 2013 Super Bowl half-time show”. Ah-huh.
Forgetting for a moment the glaringly obvious reality that Beyonce is first and foremost – and essentially, only – an entertainer; even more perplexing is how she prevailed over the likes of Leonard DiCaprio (protector of Planet Earth), George Clooney (who, with Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt, spearheaded the Not On Our Watch initiative to stop global atrocities) or even previous numero uno Queen Oprah?
Or, for that matter, humanitarian extraordinaire, Angelina Jolie, who actually does carry clout when it comes to swaying world leaders and helping to alleviate real issues like, oh, I dunno, war, famine and the foreign refugee crisis.
Adding the “II” to this ludicrous state of affairs is the fact that sitting behind Bee in second place is LeBron James. “Le – who?” you ask. Well, precisely. Someone only known to the distinctly American-centric sphere of basketball, but who still beat out a plethora of US and international personalities to be deemed all-powerful.
Pinky and the Brain-like aspirations of taking over the world notwithstanding, if we were to stick strictly to the real people of power in Celebville, then what of the Harvey Weinsteins, the Ridley Scotts, the Kathryn Bigelows, the Jimmy Iovines and Dr Dres?
All that being said, while logical and reasonable arguments point to the sheer absurdity of her current standing, the unquestioning masses will still blindly follow wherever Ms Knowles leads them. Such is the nature of society’s fame-worshipping idolatry. And that we, as the mainstream media and mouthpiece for those masses, oversell these same celebrities’ importance, means that we, too, are guilty of perpetuating their “power”.
LARA DE MATOS