For black people, we employ something called “gallows humor”. Gallows humor is steeping in irony. Sometimes it is the only weapon we have when things are going down the tubes. You have to laugh to keep from crying as people say. So, something happened this week that made me use my gallows humor.
Ariana Grande is the headliner for this year’s Coachella. You are asking the same thing I am: how can they possibly still be having Coachella after last year? Beychella is a literal and proverbial game changer. However, they persisted and decided to have Coachella. Ariana was the headliner. By now, you have either seen or heard about the documentary that detailed just how HARD Beyoncé worked on that performance. To watch her hard work was staggering. To realize that Beyoncé cares so much about her performance and knew what that performance meant brought me to another level of my fandom. I can now say it: I stan for Beyoncé. I stan for ANYONE who cares so much about a performance, they would take eight months to get it right. A performance that, quite frankly, everybody would have never even seen. The first weekend of Beychella streamed live; the second weekend did not. There were a few (if not many) people who had their own, ahem, copy of the performance before Netflix dropped the documentary. Even they said “whew”.
This is now where my gallows humor comes in. It was falsely reported that Ariana got paid more than Beyoncé to perform. That sent many a person into a tizzy: and with great reason. We all saw the documentary. We all heard the live album (oh did I forget to mention the live album?). We all have seen Beyoncé performances. It was like someone literally shook up a beehive because the stingers were coming out. As quickly as that false report was put out, it was quickly debunked. =Beyoncé and Ariana got paid the same amount. Which is a good thing because Ariana reportedly started preparing for this performance in February…of this year. There are some people who said the performance paled in comparison to Beychella. Where is that gif of Michelle Tanner saying “duh”? I could have told you that.
Here is where the gallows humor comes in. It has been reported that during Ariana Grande’s Sunday set at Coachella someone threw a lemon at her. Now, why would someone throw a lemon at her? I can only speculate but it seems the lemon pelter was upset that Ariana got more than Beyoncé and wanted to let her know by throwing a lemon (ahem, for Beyoncé’s album Lemonade). Pause for effect.
Now, when I first saw that headline I laughed. I laughed simply because it’s absurd and also because it’s a lemon. Then, just like the Beyhive came out for Beyoncé, the AriHive came out for Ariana Grande. Instantly, the lemon became more than a lemon. It became about the shooting from two years ago. It became about the Beyhive trying to tear someone else down. It became…bigger than the lemon. However, it became bigger than the lemon on both sides. On the Ari side, it was the things listed above and also “that girl doesn’t deserve that”. They are right; she doesn’t. She doesn’t deserve to be hit by a lemon. The way it was thrown, it had to be someone who was relatively close to the stage.
I hate using the term, but the discussion on “poor Ariana” triggered me. It triggered me in a way I didn’t expect. I found myself at odds with a friend. I laughed at Ariana getting a lemon thrown at her because throwing a lemon at someone is absurd. However, to watch so many people jump to Ariana’s defense in the typical “white woman in distress” way is what sent me up to the balcony. Mostly because I could understand the notion of throwing the lemon. To be clear, I do not agree that a lemon should have been thrown. It’s stupid to throw a lemon. The symbolism is what I understand.
For a few years now, we have been discussing the wage gender gap. A gap that many white feminists do not like to acknowledge is wider for women of color (specifically black and brown women). The news of a black woman who put SO much work into a show that showcased the pride she has in her culture getting less than a woman who didn’t even put 1/8 of the work into her show is just exasperating. And, if we are being completely honest, par for the course. You get tired of hearing the stories of a black woman in the limelight having to work tirelessly (or above her contemporaries) only to watch a non-black (or in this case white woman) leap frog over them without even putting in the same amount of work. I can’t sit here and say Ariana Grande doesn’t work. What I will say is that she didn’t do as much as Beyoncé. To be fair, NO ONE does. Beyoncé is literally the greatest performer living (I am NOT going to get into a Michael Jackson/Prince debate on this day…even SHE wouldn’t do that). So, no. No one is going to do as much as she did. She, herself, said she wouldn’t do this again. This is also what makes the performance so immense: knowing that this kind of undertaking may not ever happen again. Could you imagine her trying to take this on a tour? I am tired just typing out that sentence.
Did Ariana deserve a lemon thrown at her? No. Was the headline about her getting a lemon thrown at her funny? Yes.