Hunt for ‘Becky with the good hair’ must end

By Copy Chief

Beyoncé’s latest creative work, Lemonade, a visual album released April 23 on HBO and streaming service Tidal, is all anyone seems to be able to talk about. This comes as no surprise, as Beyoncé is arguably one of the most famous pop stars on the scene and the album is her most ambitious project to date, showing a more emotionally vulnerable side of the artist that has not been explored through her art in recent years.

On the album’s track “Sorry,” the singer mentions “Becky with the good hair” as the “other woman” in a cheating scenario possibly involving she and her husband, Jay Z. Fans have taken this lyric to heart, instigating a witch-hunt for the real-life woman who they believe potentially wrecked Beyoncé’s marriage. Fans have used social media to harass fashion designer Rachel Roy and singer Rita Ora, whom they suspect were involved with Beyoncé’s husband. Both have denied allegations, but this hasn’t stopped the backlash they face; Roy has even canceled events in New York City and Chicago following the album’s release.

It doesn’t matter who “Becky” is, or even if there is a real-life version of her. Lemonade is a work of art and should be considered as such, like all other forms of emotionally vulnerable art. Creating a piece about the experience of being cheated on is not a license for fans to pry into the intimate details of one’s relationship.

It is not a new phenomenon that music fans are inappropriately curious about the real-life inspirations of their favorite songs—to pretend that there are none is wrong; most art derives from personal experience. The AV Club published an article March 21 called “11 diss tracks that are probably about Courtney Love”; the subject of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” has become highly coveted knowledge because of her secrecy about it; and rappers Drake and Meek Mill started a media frenzy by releasing songs allegedly about each other last summer.

To obsess over the inspiration of art is to miss the lessons the art is meant to tell. Beyoncé does not have to have been cheated on for her words to empower other women who have been or even those who haven’t. 

If she has been cheated on, then persecuting those who hurt her is not going to accomplish anything. She seems to be doing quite well, ending her Formation tour’s kick-off show in Miami with a shout-out to her “beautiful husband,” before performing her love song, “Halo.”

People should respect the difference between a person and their art. The separation might not always be as clear-cut as the case of Eminem, Marshall Mathers, and Slim Shady, where Mathers has stated that Mathers is the real person, Eminem is his rap persona, and Slim Shady is his rap persona’s persona. 

While the differences between an artist and his or her work might at times be difficult for people to understand, art should remain separate from its creator, but just because that separation exists that does not mean the art and the message it is trying to convey are any less valid.