Beyism: a religion
Could Beyism actually be considered a religion?
According to the church of Atlanta, it can. Beyism is the belief in all things Beyoncé. It might sound silly, but the more you think about it, it makes more sense. She has a massive following on social media (14.6 million Twitter followers) and her concerts sell out in seconds. Her followers are called the Bey-hive, in the same way that Christ’s followers are called Christians. On her birthday, September 4th, ‘National Bey Day’ trends on all social media, which parallels Christmas as the birth of Christ. A religion created based off of a pop cultural icon is the epitome of popular culture as religion (Klassen, 25).
Why would a religion be inspired by Beyoncé?
For starters, people like me admire her for having immense talent in the arts, being a great entertainer, and inspiring others to replicate her confidence. In addition, she is a kindhearted and insightful individual at the same time.
With respect to the multiple (and extremely devastating) acts of police brutality on black men and women, Beyoncé has taken action by featuring the victims’ mothers in her album as well as creating music videos that send a message to the justice systems that discriminate against blacks. As with any religion, people strive to find transcendence in something; in this case, in a human being who is not often considered human (Klassen, 3).
In one of her more recent music videos, ‘Formation’, she promotes black culture by sending messages to the public about the murders of black people in America. Beyoncé, being of African American descent, is very much involved in this topic, for it is her people that the police are targeting. As a result, she is popular among us because it “touches a chord within us” (Forbes and Mahan, 5). She engages with her fans in her music videos and represents these issues in a way the news media won’t.
Given that Beyoncé is such a successful cultural figure, and that she gets her wealth from the common people, one would assume that she represents hegemony (Klassen, 35). What she does instead shatters hegemonic passive entertainment: she is making a statement by giving power to the common people (Klassen, 35). In ‘Formation’, she sinks a police car while lying on top of it in an attempt to shed light on how horrendously the police have been acting against blacks, and that it must stop. She shows herself in other videos among regular people, indicating that she is one of them. Beyoncé is aware that whatever she publishes will be accepted by the masses, so she’s using her top down power for good.
Presumably, discrimination stems from a feeling of threat by people who are unlike you and who you assume do not have the same beliefs as you (Klassen, 134). It can’t stem from the culture, for Americans steal and appropriate hairstyles, music, and clothing (Klassen, 135). What is ironic is that the majority of blacks are pious Christians, and church services are integrative aspects of their culture and community. These policemen are promoting violence, while their religions, including atheism, promote nothing but peace.
Jews in Hollywood were successful because they could relate to their audience, and they grew up in the same conditions as average Americans (Gabler, 5). They became successful because they targeted their audience and made films that would really appeal to them (Gabler, 5). In the same way, Beyoncé is successful not only because people look up to her and see her as this perfect being, but because she makes an effort to relate to, and include her audience in her art. She is part of a race that is still discriminated against in 2016 and it is only fitting that she produce music to reflect that injustice. She is taking the negative views of her people, like the Jews did, and is creating a platform to express that it must change (Gabler, 8).
Perhaps Beyism isn’t such a random and questionable religion after all. It promotes everything Beyoncé promotes: peace, the end of discrimination, and the use of power in the right ways to improve society’s actions.
Klassen, Chris. Religion and Popular Culture: A Cultural Studies Approach. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Forbes, Bruce David. “Introduction: Finding Religion in Unexpected Places,” In Religion and Popular Culture in America. Ed. B. D. Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan, 1–20. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Gabler, Neal. “Introduction,” 1–7. In An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood. New York: Double Day, 1988.
StyleBlazer, “12 days of Beyoncé fashion: Superpower video fashion,” Notey, http://www.notey.com/@styleblazer_unofficial/external/4880251/12-days-of-beyonc%C3%A9-%E2%80%9Csuperpower%E2%80%9D-video-fashion.html (October 13, 2016).
“Formation,” Web.Simmons, http://web.simmons.edu/~whitjm/comm328/week7/Formation/Formationv3.html (October 14, 2016).
Christina Alexandria. “Slay your TWA,” Naturally4Chic, https://naturally4chic.wordpress.com/tag/beyonce-gifs/ (October 13, 2016).
“Beyism Cult, Religion: American Church now worships Beyoncé; Beyists published Beyoncé Bible, Beyble,” NaijaGists, http://naijagists.com/beyism-cult-religion-american-church-now-worships-beyonce-beyists-published-beyonce-bible-beyble/ (October 13, 2016).
“Bey was black; Bey is black; Bey gon’ stay black till she die — #BeyBeBlack,” Khafra & Company, http://www.khafra.co/blog/beyonce-formation-bey-be-black (October 13, 2016).