Someone attending her first concert in 2013 would likely be appalled at the idea of accepting anything less than a note-perfect recreation of the audio — and/or video — experience. Which is how you get incidents like the one an engineer friend of mine once told me about. While working a live awards show, he had to use a machine to fix in real time the voice of a certain beautiful, but talent-challenged, singer. And this was in the 1990s.
So the furor over Beyonce feels at once vaguely amusing, tediously overwrought and about a generation late.
Once upon a time, we sang the virtues of authenticity. “Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing,” went one song title. “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” went another. But those songs — and virtues — are decades out of date. Beyonce did not create the new Zeitgeist, she is simply a child thereof — and if her performance was an implicit untruth, well, the same can be said of much of our arts, sports, news media and certainly our politics, rife with talking points and message discipline but void of simple respect for your or my intelligence.
Lies, implicit and explicit, are woven into life to a degree that would have made a 1940s Hollywood press agent grin — and stunned a reporter who once kept Jack Kennedy's extramarital secrets. And someone calls it an “outrage” that Beyonce lip-synced “The Star-Spangled Banner”?
What's outrageous is that authenticity is disappearing from whole sectors of public life like condensation from a pane of glass. And that did not begin last week. It's been happening for years. It's been happening all around.
With apologies to Beyonce: Oh, say, can you see?
TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES