Beyonce’s Visual Album: Superpower and the Post Apocalyptic Anti-Aesthetic

We’ve seen three different faces of Beyonce by now — The Powerful, The Mother and The Grownup. It’s time for the guerilla leader, the riotous rebel, the leader of the pack that she is in “Superpower”.

Her offbeat collaboration with R&B’s poster child and one of Out’s most eligible bachelors of the year,  26 year old Frank Ocean, depicts a war zone where rioting youngsters march for “Love”, and “Chaos” and Destiny’s Child reunite for a historical power walk. Is this a love song or is this a tale of past experiences? On its own, this multilayered, sophisticated song seems to be an ode to love, a reminder that relationships are at their best after some time. As the years pass, love only grows stronger.

But with the video, the track seems to go a different way. It loses its clarity and more meanings start surfacing. The clearest of them all could be, indeed, the sexual liberation message, the fight against the symbolic violence of our time. The riot that wants love seems redundant in a time when love is generally not controlled by any external entity.

But there is a type of love that is, and that is queer love. As the boys and girls walk on in the video, they seem to form more of a radical gay parade than an actual revolt, as their costumes are more symbolic of sexuality, drag and gender-bending than practical and streetwise. Knowing that Frank Ocean, who admitted the first person he ever fell in love with was male, wrote the song, this interpretation starts making sense.

The face of the rebellion

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For this unconventional video that centers around love, Beyonce needed a strong, gritty look that matched the visual narrative. With that in mind, the focus is on her eyes and hair, and the skin is blended to perfection.

The skin makes way for the heavy eye makeup, which means it is slightly lighter, by means of foundation and powder. Concealer is used to make the eyes pop even more, and there is little to no contouring or blush being used. This way, just like a Kabuki mask, Beyonce’s face can become a symbol, in this case of anarchy and social change.

It’s all in the eyes

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With “Supernatural”, both the eyes and the lips seem to be motives as well as beauty statements. The eyes are definitely the showstoppers in this video. A strong cat eye that’s extended both on the outer and inner corner is used to give Beyonce that fierce, death gaze that goes straight into your soul. The lines are not perfect, but seem to have been traced angrily and symbolically. Thus, the makeup integrates perfectly in the mood of the video.

For the lips, nude was picked to shift the attention upwards, towards the eyes, but also, we would argue, to give Beyonce a slightly masculine look which goes well with the aggressive directions the video goes in. Traditionally, women’s lips are seen as more contrasting to the face, while men’s are considered to be more blended. In this context, Beyonce becomes a neutral being of conflict.

The messy hair

We usually see Beyonce with natural hair colors, but this time she bravely takes on blue-green, a dirty pastel shade that represents playing with the rules and going out of the box that people often make for us.

The platinum blond hair is made to look messy, but still retaining volume. It is an armour of strength as well as an insight to the hardships of change.

The way the clothes shape the artist

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In “Superpower”, Beyonce wears a curious green attire – a too small bustier, ripped trousers, high heels and a statement gold necklace. The look accentuates her body’s strong shapes — her legs and stomach are toned and her walk is determined and strong.

Although it might simply look like what was left of an outfit, there is a purpose behind Dagmarette Yen’s styling and it seems to be that of manifesting the riot. The ripped pair of trousers made to look like a mini skirt could actually represent the transition from male to female. While the green camo pant is traditionally associated with war, which is fought by men, the short green skirt might mean that the new fight is everybody’s, no matter the gender.

The revealing bustier could also be a symbol for unfenced femininity, the ripped stockings as well. Beyonce cannot be held down and the riot is bound to happen.

The other look Beyonce wears in this video is a combo of camo hoodie, shredded shorts and fishnet stockings. This look is more minimalistic. In a way, it seems to be the generic riot look we were talking about earlier, complete with green highlights in B’s hair.

With “Superpower”, Beyonce takes on the role of the leader of the riot. With her warrior-esque look, she embodies the superhero the world created in the video needs.

Still, everybody in this riot seems to be a leader of his or her own. The masked man or woman wearing animal print overalls, the man with silver harnesses all over his chest, the woman in the bright yellow swimsuit, all of these people are different voices that add nuance to an otherwise anonymous group. Every one of them seems to stand up for a slightly different thing, but they’re all united by love.

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