Alice Jones: Why is Beyoncé afraid to embrace the f-word?


Sunday 23 October 2011 07:50

She's a multimillion-selling diva and one of the most successful female artists of the last decade, with 16 Grammys to her name. She was one of the best Glastonbury headliners in years.

She sings about independent women, survivors and single ladies, deflating men's egos and railing against their boyish immaturity along the way.

Beyoncé is many things but she is not a feminist. Asked in an interview with Harper's Bazaar if she considered herself a feminist, the straight-talking singer came over all mealy-mouthed. "I don't really feel that it's necessary to define it. It's just something that's kind of natural for me, and I feel like... you know... it's, like, what I live for", she said. "I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right? Like Bootylicious." Grammatical implications aside (would that make her a Bootylician? Would we have to subscribe to Bootyliciousism?), why is Beyoncé Knowles, fierceness personified, so afraid of one little word?

If she really does live for equality and empowerment, as she says, if she really believes that girls run the world, as she sings, then she's a feminist. What a missed opportunity to embrace the word. I think she should make up for it with a new anthem involving the f-word, horn section and sass. If anyone can make feminism sing for the 21st century, Beyoncé can.


Reboots are a fiddly business. For every muscular Casino Royale there's a lame Daredevil. For every boxfresh Star Trek, there's a lumbering Incredible Hulk. They are also big business, with any number of take-twos of well-loved films and franchises on the boil in Hollywood, from a new Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield, to the return of Ghostbusters. The best are usually the so-called origins stories – like Christopher Nolan's brooding Batman Begins or Matthew Vaughn's slick X-Men First Class – which take their heroes back to their humble beginnings, revealing the building blocks that made them the towering figures that they are today. Presumably someone in a Beverly Hills mansion is already plotting who might play an even more boyish boy wizard in Harry Potter: The Primary School Years.

Now, as usual, British television is shuffling after America's lead and rebooting Inspector Morse. The prequel will return to the cantankerous cop's early days in the force, with 31-year-old Shaun Evans taking on the poisoned chalice of the part John Thaw played for 13 years. Will we discover what made Morse so irritable? See him buying his first vintage Jag? Find out, finally, what his parents were thinking when they christened him Endeavour?

Now that television has started on the reboot tack, the prospects are, for this murder-mystery addict at least, mouth-watering. Next up, a look at a rookie Tom Barnaby before he became the magus of Midsomer; wild nights with the young Jane Tennison; perhaps even Kojak with a full head of hair.


His prose style, as evidenced by his diaries, borders on the pedestrian. His speaking voice is often blunt, if not downright blue. Now Alastair Campbell has revealed his creative side in a poem written to raise money for Bovington Middle School in Dorset and Help for Heroes. "When the Mind Cracks" is inspired by the former Labour spin doctor's nervous breakdown in 1986. It begins: "I never knew why they called it cracking up/ Until the crack up/ Until I closed my eyes/ To chase away the fear/ And saw a plate glass/ Where a moment ago I saw the world". It goes on to talk about the cacophony of sounds in his head, Kris Kristofferson and religion – in the self-deprecating line "I don't do God".

It's not at all bad, but the reaction on Twitter and his own blog has been predictably snide, of the "don't give up the day job" type. This seems particularly mean-spirited: he was asked to do just that in the name of charity. I'm quite heartened he did give up the day job, however briefly, to say something honest, without spin.

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