News broke mid-Tuesday morning that national treasure Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the presidential inauguration may have been lip synced, compromising the very foundation of America itself. Rumors that bald eagles fell out of the sky and the Lincoln Memorial shed a real tear have yet to be confirmed or denied as the country stood, united in shock, at this stunning betrayal of trust in the nation’s capital.
The inauguration, starring Beyoncé and featuring celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson, drew both crowds and criticism. The First Lady Michelle Obama debuted controversial new bangs and presumably “wowed” in some designer dress. Cheez-Its were part of the culinary offerings. James Taylor proved he’s still doing stuff. The highlight by far was Beyoncé’s performance of the national anthem, which spawned endless praises on my Facebook news feed. The emotion! The flawless vocals! That infamous removal of the earpiece! It seemed too good to be true.
Perhaps it was.
A mere 24 hours later the social media world had done an about-face and was plagued with lamentations of the pop culture queen’s supposed inauthenticity. Surely if the president is being sworn in with a hand on the Bible, the performers, too, should be held accountable, right? Did Kelly fake it too? And let’s reopen the whole Beyoncé-faked-her-pregnancy can of worms while we’re at it.
Maybe we’re blowing this whole thing out of proportion. As news broke, I couldn’t help being reminded of an episode of “Hey Arnold,” one I had coincidentally watched that very morning, in which Eugene finds out his favorite TV action hero doesn’t do his own stunts. Poor Eugene is heartbroken when he sees that actor Maurice, clearly based on a pre-Gubernatorial Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a stunt double, and writes him off as a phony. In the end, Maurice redeems himself and proves that even though he does fake his stunts, he’s still a decent person.
Are we skewering Bey as Eugene did Maurice? Have we built her up so much as a culture goddess that we can no longer accept reality? Performers are just that, performers. They entertain, often at the cost of authenticity. We should be used to it by now. And face it: that national anthem was entertaining. Lip synced or not, it’s still Beyoncé’s voice singing and it still sounded incredible. Though that whole earpiece bit, in light of recent knowledge, was definitely taking it too far.
I understand, we’re all still so hurt about Lance Armstrong lying to us and Photoshopped CoverGirls and Kristen Stewart still being allowed to act that we feel like we deserve to have something real. Beyoncé denied us that. It’s natural to feel betrayed; I do too. But I choose to stand by Beyoncé in this difficult time, and I hope you will too.
Published on January 23, 2013 as "Beyonce accused of lip syncing anthem".