Ben's Weekly Spark 4.28.19: Bold Women Powerfully Shaping the Future: Beyoncé, Brené, Lizzo and
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It has been a big couple of weeks for film, television and music, with new albums, Coachella, Game of Thrones, Avengers: Endgame and new Netflix releases dropping all at once. I've been floooored by the incredible stories and cultural work I've been able to enjoy recently, and I'm really glad to share some of them with you this week (I'm going to hold off on Game of Thrones and Endgame until more people have seen them so that I don't spoil anything for anyone, but I think both stories are incredibly timely and teach us a lot about ourselves and what's available to us in this time.)
***THIS WEEK'S SPARKS***
BEAUTIFUL, BOLD, BLACK WOMEN
CHANGING THE WORLD
Beyoncé is one of the most powerful crafters of social consciousness right now.
For some, that statement might feel obvious. But if that seems surprising, I'm happy to dive into it.
Beyoncé recently released a documentary and accompanying live album about her hyper-theatrical, culturally-important Coachella performance last year, called Homecoming.
Why is this film important? Beyond the bar-raising artistic feats of the performance and film itself (she directed the film, and the original show features brilliant choreography, lighting, staging, dancing, singing, costuming, arranging, conceptualizing, it's pretty-near-impeccable in every form of stagecraft, as all of Beyonce's projects in the last 10 years have been-- side note: if you haven't yet, check out 2016's Lemonade) there's also the powerful cultural work that the original performance and documentary accomplish as well.
As highlighted in the film, Beyoncé is the first African-American woman to headline Coachella, and beyond the importance of that representation and access, the film/stage show offers a vision and expression of young, empowered, activated, beautiful, nuanced, vocal and unapologetic Black America that is vitally important and inspiring to see in these times.
This has become the driving force of Beyoncé's work, the expression, exaltation and representation of Black culture, and specifically, the empowerment of Black Women.
The cruciality of this task is accentuated in her live performance by the use of the audio of Malcom X speaking:
"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected woman in America is the black woman. The most neglected woman in America is the black woman."
Which brings me to another powerhouse artist and activist: Lizzo. Minneapolis-based Lizzo has had a HUGE year, appearing on Ellen, then as one of the headliners of Coachella a few weeks ago, and her new album is really special. But what's really exciting about Lizzo is that she is empowering another section of women historically disrespected, unprotected and neglected: plus-size women.
"Woke up feelin' like I just might run for President Even if there ain't no precedent, switchin' up the messaging I'm about to add a little estrogen Buy my whip by myself, pay my rent by myself"
-"Like a Girl"- Lizzo
In her recent album release, "Cuz I Love You," and accompanying live appearances/videos, not only is Lizzo doing similar work to Beyoncé in decidedly breaking down barriers for and reshaping narratives of Black women, but additionally she's changing the cultural landscape through her body-positivity advocacy. Even when not explicitly lyrically speaking to body-positivity, Lizzo's costuming and performance clearly exhibit full ownership and love for her body, in direct defiance of the body-shaming that many women receive societally.
Finally, Lizzo and Beyoncé both carry the banner of women's sexual liberation and empowerment for all of our culture to witness and benefit.
Historically women have been policed, villainized and exploited sexually, but both Beyoncé and Lizzo show us what it looks like when a woman unapologetically owns and loves her body and her sexual experience.
If these are the heroes that young women (and all of us) have to look up to in 2019, I can't wait to see what these future generations of leaders create from their empowerment and self-love.
🔥 ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ'S MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE
I love a good thought-experiment, especially one that involves envisioning a positive, loving future, and so I was so happy to see this video by The Intercept and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outlining what the future will look like after we take the necessary dramatic steps to counter climate change.
As she states in the video, "we can be whatever we have the courage to see." I believe this deeply, and am inspired by her leadership and resilience.
🔥 BRENÉ BROWN'S NETFLIX SPECIAL: THE CALL TO COURAGE
Since I first saw her viral TED-Talk about vulnerability, I have really cherished Brené Brown's wisdom on how to create more love, intimacy and joy in our lives through vulnerability.
She now has a beautiful new Netflix special, "The Call to Courage" that invites each of us to have more courage in the ways we express ourselves to the world, calling us to practice authenticity and vulnerability to become better friends, lovers, leaders and global citizens.
WHAT OTHER EXAMPLES OF BOLD FEMALE LEADERSHIP
ARE YOU SEEING THESE DAYS?
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Thanks for reading this week's Spark! Hope you have a great week!