Beyonce's Lemonade: Cheating, Forgiveness, and Growth
Don't have an hour to watch Beyonce's new visual album? It's okay, I did for you. (Though really, you should find time...)
I went into this film knowing nothing about the plot, and I feel like it is best if you do the same.
Below the cut on each block I provide the transcription. Certain parts are quite long so for the full spoken work, please visit Bustle. Intuition We begin with hauntingly silent images. There is no movement and you find yourself holding your breath without realizing. Here starts the monologue that chronicles a cheating relationship from the very start.
Song lyrics: "I pray you catch me whispering."
--------------- "I tried to make a home out of you but doors lead to trap doors, a stairway leads to nothing. In the tradition of men in my blood, you come home at 3 a.m. and lie to me. What are you hiding?" Denial Our leading woman transforms from her previous state. She jumps into the water, sheds her old clothes and becomes a different woman. She tries to just absorb the situation, to not let it affect her, to ignore it away.
She dons a yellow dress and takes a baseball bat to the entire town. She's over the denial stage. Now, she's mad.
Song lyrics: "What's worse, looking jealous or crazy?" "Can't you see there's no other man above you? What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you."
-------- I tried to change, closed my mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less awake. But still inside me, coiled deep, was the need to know... are you cheating on me? Cheating? Are you cheating on me?" Anger Now we're taken to a deserted car park, where our leading woman scares the shit out of us. She spits of how stupid her lover was to lie to her, HER of all people! That he's not going to get away with it, that he doesn't know who he just messed with. In the midst of fire and darkness we are intimidated as hell.
"I'll give you one more try, you know I'm your life You try this shit again, you 'gon lose your wife."
-------- If it's what you truly want... I can wear her skin over mine. Her hair over mine. Her hands as gloves. Her teeth as confetti. Her scalp, a cap. We can pose for a photograph all three of us. Immortalized... you and your perfect girl.
Why can't you see me? Why can't you see me? Everyone else can." Apathy Now that she's sufficiently made whoever cheated on her terrified for their lives, leading lady gets on a school bus "to the club" and lets us know that she no longer "gives a fuck." She's over it and moving on.
"Middle fingers up, put them hands high Put it in his face, tell him "boy, bye!'"
-------------------- So, what are you gonna say at my funeral now that you've killed me? Here lies the body of love of my life, whose heart I broke without a gun to my head. Here lies the mother of my children, both living and dead. Rest in peace, my true love, who I took for granted." Emptiness We return to the car park, filled with flames. We flash back and forth between the car park, a mansion, and a long red hallway. She seems like she's in a trance and the fear-inducing attitude she had has faded.
"She just killed everybody in here and I was her witness"
--------- She sleeps all day. Dreams of you in both worlds.
Dear moon, we blame you for floods... for the flush of blood... for men who are also wolves. We blame for the night, for the dark, for the ghosts. Loss We're taken into the city and discover our leading lady is dealing with this blow by working her ass off. She throws herself into her craft, she's the best, she's "worth every dollar." But then our red hallway is set on fire - she's burning a house down.
"She's too smart to crave material things, stackin' her paper"
----------------- Every fear... every nightmare... anyone has ever had.
Accountability We're in a mansion, we're in a neighborhood, we're in the past and present. We hear of a child wanting desperately to be like her mother, to be strong for her, to be a woman that is not bent and broken by any man in their lives. Father, friend, or husband.
"Came into this world, daddy's little girl. Daddy made a soldier out of me."
----------------- You find the black tube inside her beauty case where she keeps your father's old prison letters. You desperately want to look like her. You look nothing like your mother. You look everything like your mother.
Your mother is a woman and women like her cannot be contained.
Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god? Am I talking about your husband or your father? Reformation From the loud anthem of accountability, we're taken back to stark silence. We're in an empty stadium as we watch our leading woman come to terms with what is happening. She tries to see the other side, if there is another side. Perhaps if she changes her view she can change the situation.
"9 times out of 10 I know you're lying, and 9 times out of 10 I know you're trying, So i'm trying to be fair."
"Cause you are my life line."
----------------- Why do you deny yourself heaven? Why do you consider yourself undeserving? Why are you afraid of love? You think it's not possible for someone like you. But you are the love of my life. You are the love of my life. You are the love of my life.
Forgiveness We're taken to a peaceful place filled with books and music, a fire place. This is where our leading lady accepts and forgives. She is willing to try again but only if its a real try, if they're both committed. Jay-Z now makes his appearance. Confirming that this isn't fiction - Beyonce isn't playing any role but her own.
"And your heart is broken cause I walked away Show me your scars and I won't walk away And I know I promised that I couldn't stay, baby Every promise don't work out that way."
------------- Baptize me... now that reconciliation is possible. If we're gonna heal, let it be glorious. Do you remember being born? Are you thankful for the hips that cracked?
Resurrection In resurrection we are shown women holding their lost loves ones (including the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and countless others.) A new beginning, but never forgetting.
--------------- So how we supposed to lead our children to the future? What do we do? How do we lead them? Love. L-O-V-E, love. Hope Now Beyonce is determined to move forward with power, new strength, and freedom. She will not let her freedom "rot in hell." She will get everything she deserves, everyone will get what they deserve.
"Freedom freedom cut me lose Freedom freedom where are you cause I need freedom too."
---------- The nail technician pushed my cuticles back... turns my hand over, stretches the skin on my palm and says, "I see your daughters and their daughters." Redemption The wounds have closed and Beyonce says that the process, while it was heart breaking, has made her stronger, opened her eyes, and gave her a new purpose. The concept of Lemonade was inspired by her grandmother. She was a strong woman who made lemonade since her life gave her plenty of lemons.
--------------------- Grandmother, the alchemist, you spun gold out of this hard life, conjured beauty from the things left behind. Found healing where it did not live.
I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade. My grandma said "Nothing real can be threatened." True love brought salvation back into me. With every tear came redemption and my torturer became my remedy.
So we're gonna heal. We're gonna start again. You've brought the orchestra, synchronized swimmers. After you've digested this, how do you feel about this open letter about infidelity?