“She opened the show straddling a chair, then proceeded to writhe around on it before twerking her way up to a standing position…Belting out the lyrics to the explicit song, many of which had been bleeped out…”
No, that’s not a summary of the now infamous Miley Cyrus VMA performance, it’s how The Daily Mail described Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love” opening number for the Grammys® featuring her husband, Jay-Z.
To clarify, Queen Bey, as she’s apparently known in many circles, wore a skin-tight black bodysuit thong over fishnet stockings and sky-high black heels as she humped a chair, twerked, and shook her booty as hard as Miley or Rihanna ever have. Yet, when I checked online to see the reaction of the media to what seemed to me to be just as scandalous a performance as Miley’s, almost everything I saw was in praise of how sexy, hot, hot, hot, and even “inspirational” Beyoncé’s performance was.
So, for anyone keeping score… Miley = trainwreck, Beyoncé = inspirational.
Entertainment Tonight led their newscast today by saying that Beyoncé’s performance was “the best opening number ever and even if Beyoncé was censored for some curse words she still sexed it up on stage.”
Because when Beyoncé sexes it up it’s awesome, and when Miley or even Rihanna does it it’s gasp-worthy?
ET went on to bullet point why Beyoncé’s performance rocked. To quote, Beyoncé was “naughty in a black thong, twerkin’ that skinny bum and noticeable thigh gap after her 22-day vegan diet and with his hand on her bootylicious, Jay-Z’s bump-and-grind proved why he and B are music’s most smokin’ couple.”
They ended the Beyoncé segment by calling her “so beautiful.”
Beautiful. Huh. Interesting. So maybe Doran Miller-Rosenberg was onto something when, in her effort to answer the question of why Miley got crucified for the same behavior that has Beyoncé the toast of the Grammys, she wrote for Elite Daily that it’s because Beyoncé is prettier than Miley.
“Beyoncé is more attractive. Like it or not, this is a huge factor in the way she’s perceived. Miley’s bony body in revealing plastic is hard to watch, while Beyoncé is… Beyoncé. When you try to sell sex, you have to be sexy, and that’s a big part of what was missing from Miley’s performance.”
As good a theory as any, I suppose, but I’m not buying it. Inappropriate is inappropriate regardless of looks. While I certainly agree that Beyoncé is gorgeous I don’t think that’s necessarily why America is so much more accepting of her naughtiness. I think Barbara Palumbo, who live-tweeted the Grammys® for her site Adornmentality.com, comes a lot closer to unlocking the riddle when she says she thinks it’s because Beyoncé is a mom.
“I also think its because we are forgiving when the body being shown in the entertainment industry is a post-baby body. Miley’s body is pre-baby, so its not as acceptable. Hell, she’s an actual baby, practically. But everyone wanted to see how well Bey lost the weight, and in her mind, as a now mother, her sexuality was a form of her feminism. A sort of ‘look at my sh*t… a baby came out of this sh*t and I’m still sexy’ and so America looks around, shrugs, nods and says ‘yeah, okay, we’ll accept that.'”
When I posed the Beyoncé question on my Facebook page several friends weighed in with some pretty interesting theories. Jodie Dello Stritto says it’s because Miley was known as a Disney star. “I think it’s because Beyoncé wasn’t Hannah Montana and [the opening number] wasn’t such a ‘coming out’ performance as it was for Miley. Beyonce has been known to sex it up before.” Still another friend, Paul Murphy, says the presence of Beyonce’s husband makes a huge difference in the eyes of viewers. So, a woman can act naughty just so long as her husband approves?
While I agree with all of the above theories on why Beyonce is perceived differently than other pop stars, I still don’t think she should have a free pass to be naughty, yet it seems she has exactly that. During primetime when children are watching, no less. Inappropriate is inappropriate especially when it comes to shows our kids could be watching on television. They don’t know the difference between a woman “expressing her sexuality” or just shaking her groove thang for attention. They don’t know that America thinks Beyoncé’s naked derrière is generally considered more acceptable than Miley’s or Rihanna’s, all they see is a hiney moving in ways that are… ahem… You know.
That said, it’s still unfair to judge the way a woman chooses to sexually express herself based on the number of kids she has or whether she used to be a child star or whether she’s performing with her husband.
I, for one, like to adhere to the advice of the great Missy Elliot who once said: “Ain’t no shame/ladies do yo thang./just make sho/you ahead of the game.”
And more importantly, make sure it ain’t during primetime family programming.
Image: Jay Z’s Instagram
Read more from Monica on Babble: