Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Beyonce, what have you done?

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
In 2014, there's been no denying Beyonce's power. As pop culture's royal highness celebrates her 33rd birthday on Thursday, September 4, we recap the superstar's life and career. In 2014, there's been no denying Beyonce's power. As pop culture's royal highness celebrates her 33rd birthday on Thursday, September 4, we recap the superstar's life and career.
HIDE CAPTION
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Photos: Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beyonce appears in two popular new videos; one is to encourage girls to be assertive
  • The other is a suggestive music video partly about having sex in the back seat of a limo
  • LZ Granderson says Beyonce's music appeals to grown-ups, but is it appropriate for girls?
  • He says it would be better if she didn't mix messages for those who look up to her

Editor's note: LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A senior writer for ESPN and lecturer at Northwestern University, the former Hechinger Institute fellow has had his commentary recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- There are two Web clips featuring Beyonce that have been getting a lot of attention.

Clip No. 1 features a host of celebrities and community leaders, including Bey, involved with a movement trying to ban the use of the word "bossy" in reference to young girls. The reason being that "bossy" is often used in a derogatory way to describe girls who display leadership traits, thus discouraging them from asserting themselves.

"I'm not bossy, I'm the boss," the superstar says.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Clip No. 2 features Beyonce wearing a bedazzled thong and not much else, as she sings about ejaculate landing on her dress after performing oral sex in the back of a limo.

"I just want to be the girl you like," she pleads to her husband, Jay-Z, in the "Partition" video, the second single from her latest release, "Beyonce."

The first single, "Drunk in Love", included a line from her husband that made light of a domestic violence scene documented in the Tina Turner biopic "What's Love Got To Do With It."

Beyonce the artist is above reproach. With 17 wins, she has only one less Grammy than Aretha Franklin. She has more than 13 million Twitter followers despite only tweeting eight times. And she famously crashed iTunes by releasing a full CD without any promotion.

However, Beyonce the role model is questionable as hell.

I'm all for handcuffs, hot wax, stripper poles, whips -- whatever it is two consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their bedroom to keep the relationship fresh. But increasingly, Beyonce has chosen not to keep such things private.

Beyonce's steamy video for 'Partition'

The lyrics to "Partition" pale in comparison with some of the more graphic phrases heard on her latest CD, and many parents complained that having her sexually charged performance open this year's Grammys was inappropriate given the time of night.

Beyonce: Gender equality is a myth

I was not one of those parents, mind you.

But then again, I have a 17-year-old son, not an 11-year-old daughter.

Fox's Bill O'Reilly was mocked recently for his pseudointerview with Russell Simmons, in which instead of talking about Simmons' new book on meditation -- which the hip-hop star came on the show to do -- he ranted about "Partition."

"Teenage girls look up to Beyonce, particularly girls of color," O'Reilly said. "Why on Earth would this woman do that?"

And by "that," he means sing about having sex in the back of a limo.

"I believe an entertainer like Beyonce, and a mogul like you, have an obligation to protect children. Not put out exploitative garbage that you know harm impressionable children," he said.

Now as a fan of many genres of music, I know O'Reilly could replace Bey's name with any number of popular artists and the question would still be applicable.

For example, country artists sing about getting drunk and having sex in the back of pickups quite often. And in 2011, the National Center for Health Statistics reported teenage birth rates for 15- to-19-year-olds were highest in states such as Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Kentucky, where country music is most popular.

So O'Reilly singling out the music of Beyonce can certainly be seen as either unfair or even a not-so-subtle attack on the White House, given Beyonce's ties to the administration.

But O'Reilly's motives aside, Beyonce does position herself as a role model for young girls.

Like the "Bossy" video encouraging young girls to be leaders.

Or the "Move Your Body" video released in conjunction with Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign directed at kids.

I doubt the first lady would be happy to see Sasha or Malia dancing to "Partition" the way Beyonce does in her music video. Not because dancing seductively or expressing sexuality through song is inherently wrong. But doing so at 15 and 12 -- while singing "I just want to be the girl you like" -- isn't ideal. Currently, Vevo is heavily promoting the video, and the song jumped from No. 97 to No. 23 on Billboard in one week.

Of course the President and first lady are excellent parents who will guide their daughters down the appropriate path.

Unfortunately, too many daughters, too many children have TVs for baby sitters.

That isn't Beyonce's cross to bear. Nor is it a cross O'Reilly should attempt to leave on her doorstep.

But it is a cross any artist who brands herself or himself as a role model for young impressionable minds needs to be aware of. Beyonce makes grown-folks music, and I love it. But if she truly wants to be kid-friendly, she should consider leaving the foreplay in the bedroom because trying to have it both ways makes parenting for some harder than it should be.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT