Kim Kardashian attempted to win the Internet earlier this month when she allowed Paper Magazine to publish nude photos of her for their December “Break the Internet” issue. For at least three days — a century in Internet speak — her name was on the tip of every digital tongue across the web. But the conversation shifted swiftly and definitively on Friday, when for the second time in one year, Beyoncé practiced unorthodox proceedings and utilized social media’s democracy to drop a single and accompanying music video without providing context.
Since Friday, Beyoncé’s “7/11” has garnered upward of 20,000,000 views on YouTube, which is impressive but not unpredictable when considering the star’s clout. What is unique, however, is the actual video, which is effectively a three and a half minute selfie that appends a 15-word song, which will at best become a club hit and at worst, give your mother a headache.
She’s on a terrace, wearing knee pads, acting jovially in a sweatshirt that reads Kale across the front. She’s spinning in a chair and then she’s in a bathroom. She wears full-coverage granny panties with the same demure austerity that she does Givenchy couture (worn under a sweatshirt) and though she’s conceivably goofing off, sometimes with her friends-cum-back-up dancers, other times with a Christmas tree as her leading back-up dancer, the assumption is that whatever we’re seeing has been conceptualized deliberately and marketed for public consumption.
Here’s the thing, though: this semi-crude selfie video, when held up against the highly produced and incredibly styled videos that are typically indicative of a Beyonce production, could theoretically make a much larger statement about the way in which we consume digital entertainment.
Maybe in 2014, it’s no longer really about achieving the most beautiful, or rehearsed “shot” so much as it is making sure that your point is conveyed unflinchingly and clearly.
The video in question, which commanded parallel engagement and enthusiasm vis-a-vis it’s fancier siblings, seems like an old-school nod to creative substance (solid dance moves, a human necessity to connect with, or experience celebration) that is being propelled by the proliferation of technology in a way that is nostalgic but fundamentally only available to be tested as a result of progression. This video stands as an interesting case study on the topic of over-saturation and what that concentration leads to.
If it does, in fact, drive the generation of minimalism, does that mean we’re entering the age of modernist digital content?