By now, everyone will have heard about the huge fight between Jay Z and Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister, in an elevator at a MET Gala afterparty. For the next week or so, everyone from casual fans to entertainment pundits (I’m personally waiting on Wendy Williams’s take; expect the whole hour to be dedicated to the fight) will be poring through every nanosecond of that now infamous TMZ video trying to discern what the fight was about. Some will take it further, wondering what the fight says about the impenetrable bubble that Beyonce resides in.
What I’m wondering about is, how the hell does Beyonce’s camp respond to something like this?
At the very least, this three-minute long altercation, pretty vicious I might add, completely shatters any myth of familial harmony that the Carter/Knowles family has been projecting all of this time. Of course, Beyonce and Jay Z aren’t obligated to highlight their family squabbles, and their discretion has helped make them so popular. But that public image, the one just ripped apart by the elevator fight, also played a part in creating the general BuzzFeed and SNL-sponsored consensus that the Carters are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Think about it, isn’t it easier to laugh at the Beygency skit thinking that Beyonce and Jay Z are sitting back laughing too?
This all creates a public relations disaster that even Olivia Pope would have to think twice about. Because there is no audio in the elevator video, the fight is up for interpretation and speculation, and it will be rampant. It would be one thing if it was just a slap, but Solange actually tried to kick Jay Z, more than once. The possibilities for what was behind their fight are nearly endless and guaranteed to be salacious. Adultery, jealousy, money, mental illness, it’s all the makings of an episode of General Hospital, with pop superstars.
Beyonce is not used to scandal. In respect to the pop music world, she is practically pristine. The only reason she may show up in a tabloid is because of a dress she’s wearing or because of paparazzi photos of her out with Blue Ivy. This will be the first time she will have to fire up the PR engine and get moving. So what does she do?
Most celebrity scandals would call for the diva and her family to keep silent, letting the story die on its own. But this isn’t some random tabloid rumor with unnamed sources; there is verifiable evidence. There is a video depicting three minutes of slapping, punching, kicking and possible screaming. And because there are missing pieces to that evidence, there will be people looking for answers, at least before they make up their own. Saying nothing will simply throw open the gates to some really ugly rumors, and social media these days can be ruthless. One question sure to be asked and answered: why was Beyonce just standing to the side while her husband and sister went at it? There’s nothing worse than having others tell the story for you, especially when its their goal to make it as bad as possible. Global sweetheart Beyonce embroiled in domestic dispute of some kind? The media has been waiting for this.
But should the Carters make a statement? It would completely destroy the cocoon of mystique they have built over the years. Beyonce rarely gives interviews anyway, which means public mention of her family life is microscopic. As mentioned before, Beyonce and Jay Z are likable because, unlike Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (the closest celebrity couple to them in terms of relevance), they don’t over-saturate the media with every second of their lives. When they do talk about their private lives, it’s very controlled, like through Beyonce’s Instagram or the HBO documentary she released last year. Speaking to, say, Barbara Walters about the fight would force Beyonce into the limelight in a way she has since avoided, open to very intrusive questions about her private life. While it’s easy to say that her private life is none of the public’s business, that won’t stop a journalist from going there.
There is really no right way to handle this scandal (and yes, it is a scandal). Both ways have pretty icky consequences for all parties involved; it’t the perfect lose-lose situation.
That bubble I spoke of earlier? It just got a hole poked into it.