A video of a Beyonce fan smacking her during a concert has been gaining media attention over the last day and a half. Characteristically the media coverage has completely missed the point. Case in point is this video produced by CNN about the event and subsequent responses.
Note the sub-title of the video, “Fan slaps Beyonce’s behind. CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports she handled it bootyliciously.” Besides being stupid, this headline grossly underemphasizes the inappropriateness of this action, not to mention the cringe-worthy use of the word “bootylicious” (granted, Beyonce did write a song by that name) the video plays out as a list of reasons this fan would have thought this was a proper gesture based on Beyonce’s own previous actions. Their examples include her song “bootylicious” and the fact that her husband has slapped her butt on stage and she “seemed to reward the behavior.” Here are a few things that are actually important to note in relation to this event that CNN neglected to mention:
1. It is never o.k. to touch someone without their permission especially in a suggestive way (even if they are a celebrity or public performer). Giving up some level of privacy in exchange for fame does not mean that their bodies are public property.
2. It is not Beyonce’s fault that this happened no matter what she sings or does consensually onstage with other performers. She did not ask for it.
This situation reminds me of an excellent blog post by Kitty Pryde for Vice about the Danny Brown onstage sexual assault. Pryde points out forcefully why this was a sexual assault and why people talking about it as anything other than a sexual assault perpetuates the rape culture that we live in, which is exactly what CNNs coverage of Beyonce’s assault is doing.