Beyonce: a Three Goes to Six

Beyonce super bowlBeyonce turned many heads with her Super Bowl performance of her new song Formation. I see it as a move from Three to Six.

I’d posit Beyonce as a prime example of Type Three: the Achiever. She’s a success machine. She’s been performing since she was seven, writing her own music since her teens, and topping the charts for more than a decade. Her concerts are full of extensive choreography, and she watches a video recording of each night’s concert, giving herself and her dancers notes.

Threes will relentlessly self-improve. No matter how successful you are, you can always make it bigger.

Beyonce hauntedSome Three-ish quotes from Queen Bey:

“As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That’s how I’ve gotten where I am.”

“I wanted to sell a million records, and I sold a million records. I wanted to go platinum; I went platinum. I’ve been working nonstop since I was 15. I don’t even know how to chill out.”

“I love my job. But it’s more than that: I need it.”

Threes identify who they are with what they do. Who am I if I’m not this impressive list of accomplishments? And of course, if you reach the highest highs, then what?

Don Draper meditatesThis theme shows up in some other contemporary chronicles of Threes. In the final season of Mad Men, Don Draper’s ad agency is absorbed into the industry’s biggest firm, and Don is assigned the biggest brand in the world: Coca-Cola. He leaves work without warning, and drives across America, seemingly abandoning his prize. The final episode shows him at the Esalen Institute, meditating, sitting with himself, feeling the sadness he’s efficiently tucked away the entire series.

Black WidowIn Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow falls victim to an enchantment that makes her relive memories of her training and conditioning in Russia, with the reveal that she’d been sterilized in order to make her an even more streamlined killing machine. No children, no attachments. But as the story progresses, she wonders who she is when she isn’t on a mission. Is there a person there anymore? What does she want?

Beyonce brought all of her entertainment and business savvy (a common combination with Threes in show business) to her recent Super Bowl performance, debuting the song the day before, and following her performance with an ad for her upcoming world tour.

And the song itself contains some Three-ish declarations of her status as the undisputed queen:

Beyonce-FormationI see it I want it , I stunt, yeah, little hornet 

I grind ’til I own it, I twirl on them haters

Albino Alligators, El Camino with the seat low sipping Cuervo with no chaser

Sometimes I go off, I go hard, Get what’s mine, take what’s mine , I’m a star, I’m a star

Cause I slay, slay, I slay, hey, I slay, okay, I slay.

But the more outstanding part of the song is her declaration of her roots. Beyonce grew up in Houston. Her parents were rich, her dad drove a Jaguar. She didn’t come from the ‘hood. But in Formation she puts herself firmly in the camp of Southern African Americans:

My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana 

You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas Bamma

Beyonce, carI like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros 

I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils

Earned all this money but they never take the country out me 

I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.

The term “bamma” refers to an unsophisticated Southern Black. She claims the title with pride. She champions kinky hair and big nostrils – rejecting any notion that physical assimilation with whites equals beauty.

Beyonce-cop-Car-formation-2The video shows her on a New Orleans police car, sinking into the Mississippi, a reference to Hurricane Katrina and the entrenched social problems in that part of the country. For her Super Bowl performance she costumed herself and her dancers in Black Panthers uniforms, and at one point had them form an X as a nod to Malcolm X.

Beyonce has been the target of a great deal of ring wing rage since then. She doesn’t seem to care. This move was, of course, very deliberate. She could have continued creating music in the style of Single Ladies and Crazy in Love, and it would have been a safer choice to present a familiar hit at the Super Bowl.

Beyonce black panthers outfitsBut each of us has to ask ourselves – who am I? What do I stand for?

Type Six is the Loyalist, and a healthy Six understands the value of being part of something bigger. Threes can see themselves as independent agents, disconnected from the whole, unfettered by ethnicity, or even relationships. Sixes commit to helping the underdog.

Beyonce has declared herself a proud member of a marginalized group, and has changed public perception of her image forever. As she’s said:

“I’m over being a pop star. I don’t wanna be a hot girl. I wanna be iconic. And I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I feel like I’m highly respected, which is more important than any award or any amount of records. And I feel like there comes a point when being a pop star is not enough.”

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