Three months into our fevered obsession with the possible demise of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s marriage, headline rumors continue to feed the frenzy: “Beyoncé secretly shopping for a new apartment.” “DESTROYED by Jay-Z cheating!” And today, the coup de grace: “Beyoncé Will File For Divorce — Media Announcement Drafted.” It’s time to let it go, America. We’ve been engrossed in this drama ever since Elevatorgate hinted of trouble in the fairy-tale marriage. We were wooed by the hints of marital unhappiness that Beyoncé dropped during her live performances of the break-up ballad “Resentment”. Now we’re having an unhealthy and untenable love affair with a relationship that’s not our own. We’ve become emotionally invested in a marriage that we have no control over. It’s not Beyoncé and Jay-Z who need a relationship counselor. It’s us.
America’s obsession with celebrities and their personal lives is nothing new. But our fascination with the pop queen and hip-hop mogul has lasted for more than a decade. It’s become idolized as the perfect romance. The two rarely discussed the intimate details of their relationship in interviews. Instead, the courtship has existed largely in music videos and paparazzi pictures of the couple traveling the globe and living the ultimate American dream. The groundbreaking album “BEYONCE” upped the ante, releasing details of what seemed to be a strong and passionate union — a “Drunk in Love” marriage that left us more invested than ever. In a society that sees more than half of marriages end in divorce – and that rate is rising – Beyoncé and Jay-Z became a symbol of hope for everlasting love. On top of that, they became an aspirational example of a successful black marriage, an even rarer phenomenon. They represent a couple who defied the odds, overcoming class and racial obstacles to become the best on stage, in the boardroom and, according to “BEYONCE,” in the bedroom. That makes the rumors of their demise so painful for so many. If even they can’t make it work, we fear, then there is no hope for the rest of us.
But our emotions are based on nothing more than a fairy-tale. The Knowles-Carter union is special for its billion-dollar value, but nothing more. Like every marriage, it marked the union of two complicated human beings, struggling to merge their independent lives into one. Some have lamented the suggestion that the marriage was more of a business agreement or a marriage just for show. If that is true, it also doesn’t make these two unusual. There are certainly myriad examples of everyday people who have business agreements as an integral part of a romantic partnership or marriage. Plenty of couples work together or remain as a unit for the good of their children. Performing “happy marriage” isn’t a new phenomenon in our narcissistic, image-driven culture.
The Knowles-Carter love affair — or, if you prefer, corporate merger — has always been more complicated than it seems from the outside. That it could end like so many other American marriages should not surprise us. The public can tune out this private drama without shedding too many tears, and for our own sanity we should. We’ve placed too much stock in this couple. Whether the Carters stay together for Blue Ivy, stay together for love, or break up, we should break up with them first.