Beyoncé’s Lemonade Is Southern Gothic Empowerment

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Beyonce.
Beyonce.Photo: Jason Merritt

Tonight Beyonce dropped her long-awaited view into her upcoming album, Lemonade on HBO. The 57-minute special appears to be somewhere between a tease and a video library for her upcoming album, but overwhelming made the argument that Beyoncé is redefining how we view Southern Gothic.

Over the course of almost an hour, many themes come to the forefront, but the most persistent is her dedication to a feminist spin on the traditional Southern Gothic tropes. Bey brings a bat to car windows, holds court with a bus of calaveras-clad women. She has Serena Williams and Winnie Harlow both appearing to give masterful cameos, proudly taking center stage. Bey drops a lesson in upturning your expected impressions, declaring her independence in several songs, and, at the end, simultaneously celebrating her man. She embraces the Southern Gothic lens and also makes it a measure of empowerment. While it’s not as overtly political as her last official video, it still provides a throughline that connects with her Superbowl performance and “Formation.