We’ve seen this time and again, but if you’re a marginally famous person and you say a bad word about Beyoncé, the entire internet will recoil in horror from you. The latest offender is Theresa Wayman, guitarist for the adventurous L.A. dream-pop band Warpaint, who had some words for the “hyper-sexualization” of pop music in a recent Q interview. The passage everyone is quoting is about Beyoncé’s near-unanimously praised self-titled album: “It just gets worse. Every song on Beyoncé’s last album has her basically looking like a slut, and she does not need to do that. She’s gorgeous and so fucking talented. And they all take it as women’s liberation!”
It’s worth noting here that Beyoncé is a married woman, and in fact she is one of the most famously married women on planet earth. You can say a lot of things about an album full of sex songs, but when the sex in question is married sex, “looking like a slut” is a weird, weird way to talk about it.
Anyway, Wayman also talked in similar fashion about Rihanna: “[Rihanna] has an insane voice; she could’ve done something so much more subtle and artful.”
I don’t doubt Wayman’s sincerity, but it’s never a good look for non-pop-star musicians to tell pop stars what they should be doing. Also: Pop music has been hyper-sexualized for its entire history. There were probably people who wished Elvis or Jagger or Prince or Madonna or Donna Summer would’ve been more “subtle and artful,” too, and these people lost.
UPDATE: Wayman has already apologized for and clarified her statements on Facebook. Here’s Wayman’s apology, which suggests that none of the stuff I just wrote actually applies to her feelings:
First and foremost, I want to apologize with regards to the Q article. There were many long conversations behind that statement and it’s heartbreaking and painful to see it presented in such a hyperbolic and crude manner. We LOVE and ADORE Beyonce and Rihanna, genuinely, and that’s what makes this all the more difficult.
A journalist came on our bus and casually asked us what we thought about women in music and we responded as fans and consumers and not as card carrying feminists. Not as anybody with power or influence either. We’re not trying to start a war, no fucking way. We would be crushed like little lady flies.
As we all know these days, sound bites and quotes are chosen not by their merit but by the level of sensationalism and that’s exactly what happened here. Beyonce and Rihanna are the last two women on earth who I would ever want to disrespect or disregard. Ultimately I am a consumer too, and everybody expresses their opinions about the artistic climate they live in. What I was referring to, specifically, was my take on the video clip for “Superpower” where I felt her role in that clip undermined the song – which is one of my favorites. That’s pretty much it. As a fan I was confused with her choice to sexualize herself in that particular moment. On the other hand “Drunk in Love”, in my humble opinion, is so powerful in it’s sexuality. I could watch that on a loop forever. Ultimately she can do whatever the fuck she wants. Anyone can. I’m a fan and like any other fan – I have my opinions which are no more or less important than anyone else’s.
As far as Rihanna goes, if I had that voice I could die right now a happy woman. The journalist and I were discussing a hypothetical situation in which Rihanna was an artist active outside of the mainstream music scene. What would her music sound like? What would she wear? What decisions would she make? PURELY hypothetical.
There’s not a shred of self-importance in these words. I’m not trying to cover my tracks but this is really upsetting to me. I apologize for being careless with my words. I apologize to fans of Beyonce and Rihanna, I fucking love them too. Me and and my big mouth.
p.s. I never said shit about twerking…don’t know how that got in there. By all means, twerk away.