Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On Serena, Beyoncé, and Britney

I recently happened across the discovery that Britney Spears, Serena Williams, and Beyoncé Knowles are all the same age.  I was stunned to discover that all three women are 32 years old. All three women have of course achieved a whole lot within their respective professions. And yet it seems undeniable that there is a growing maturity to Serena and Beyoncé that you simply do not see in Britney Jean.

I can’t stop listening to Beyoncé’s new CD. Yes, I agree that it is beyond tasteless that she sampled the Challenger takeoff on the song ‘XO’. But that doesn’t stop it from being an incredible song. Nor does it change the fact that this is a game-changing CD, both from the point of view of the daring manner of its release, as well as of its amazing content.

It is the most interesting and risky (dare I say, risqué) that Beyoncé has been in years.  (And I say this as someone who used to refer to her as The Robot). And she acknowledges in the CD that in order to do this, she had to move beyond just being someone’s daughter in order to find her own mature groove.

And then I tried today to look at Britney’s new documentary, “I am Britney Jean”. I fell asleep after ten minutes. I kid you not. It is boring, filled with tons of cutaways to the props around her, seemingly intended to mask the dullness of the person at the center. She looked nothing like a grown-assed woman, to quote Beyoncé. As a matter of fact, just before I fell asleep there was a telling moment when her younger sister, apropos of nothing, announced that she can kick Britney’s ass. OK then.

And then there is Serena who seems to have blossomed ever since leaving home, family, and country, and moving to France. Gone are the days of her Twitter meltdowns over boys. Gone are the angry meltdowns on the court that damaged her reputation. In its place is a woman learning how to channel her emotions, who has made it back to the top, and who has once again been honored by the AP as the top athlete of 2013. Top athlete, not just top tennis player – although she is decidedly both.

You don’t get to that level of achievement by remaining a frightened little girl, too scared to move out of your comfort zone. You don’t get to that remarkable sphere by remaining stuck in the mode of emotional dependency. Of course both of these women -- Beyoncé and Serena -- will continue to make mistakes and have missteps. But there is a self-confidence that comes from growing into your skin that they now both enjoy. 

It’s hard not to notice the difference between these three women of the same age, two who are maturing, and one who has so clearly is not, seemingly propped up by supporters turned exploiters, without even the level of self-awareness or personal discipline to go on a proper diet and fitness program as her show (and salary) clearly deserve. Sadly, Britney has become my new Robot.

Because there is no question that Serena has matured since moving to France. And while I disagree with CNN’s recent headline granting all credit to the man she is allegedly sleeping with, I do think that sometimes women find their stride when they discover the right kind of sexual happiness after having the courage to break away from simply being someone’s daughter.  Again, just quoting Beyoncé.

PS:  Look for new a blog design in a few days. Thanks to Helen, my talented Webmaster whom you should hire to do your work. Wait til you see what she has come up with! And Happy New Year to those of you who still read this blog. My New Year resolution is simply to be more present.

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