VCU presents ‘Beyoncé: A Masterclass in Fierceness’

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

Students of all ages prayed to Beezus to begin “Beyoncé: A Masterclass in Fierceness” on Monday, April 7 in the Commons theatre, which educated the public on the singer and her presentation of fierceness on stage.

The lecture was presented by Madison Moore, a Yale graduate and freelance writer. Moore’s work originally began as a university dissertation; he expanded his analysis of fashion and fierceness, combined it with his love for Beyoncé and made his work into full lecture presentation.

Moore began his presentation by analyzing the fervor surrounding the pop star. Fans were overwhelmed when Beyoncé dropped her latest album unannounced, and “Time” magazine published a cover stating the artist should have been named “Person of the Year.” Next, he analyzed her presence in performances both candid and professional. Moore pointed out the fact that the artist is not perfect, and it is important to recognize the instances when mistakes are made.

“I think mistakes in a performance are more interesting than a perfect performance,” Moore said.

Moore then compared glamour with fierceness. In the presentation, he used an image of Marilyn Monroe as an example of how glamour says to the viewer, “Look at me, I’m beautiful.” In another image, Moore illustrated how a popular drag queen’s image evoked an element of danger. Instead, Moore said the viewer was given the impression, “Don’t come for me unless I send for you.” The textbook definition of fierce is having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness, but Moore said today’s culture gives the word a different meaning.

“Instead of physical violence, fierce is more an aesthetic violence,” Moore said. “It’s creative fury.”

With Beyoncé, her performances are when she shows fierceness. Like Tina Turner before her, Moore said the artist puts all of her energy into her performances. He encouraged the audience to consider the actual labor Beyoncé does for each tour, and pointed out how the artist truly sweats for the stage.

Before creating his presentation, Moore said he began with research on glamour for his dissertation at Yale University. He was able to find informational materials, such as “Glamour, A History” by Stephen Gundle, but most of the textbooks only featured white models and patriarchal ideas. This lack of variety led Moore to look into models of different races and gender preferences.

“I discovered fierceness in contrast was more aggressive, more in-your-face and more unapologetic,” Moore said. “It’s where brown bodies and queer bodies live in the creative world.”

Today, Moore said fierceness is something that elicits a “knee-jerk” response, and conjures itself from within the witness. The emotion is like a call and response. Moore said if he sees someone walking down the street, and he feels they are fierce, he will either say something in confirmation to himself or out loud.

“It’s an affirmation that I acknowledge and respect your creative labor,” Moore said. “You chose those earrings today, that hairstyle or whatever it is and I am congratulating you on your choices.”

Moore said he was surprised by how well people have responded to his idea of fierceness. After completing his dissertation, Moore has made speeches at other schools, including Reed College and University of Pennsylvania. By writing and giving lectures about subjects such as fierceness, Moore said he is living his dream.

“My work has always been about bridging the gap between pop culture and academia and scholarship,” Moore said. “The fun work is just as important as work that is serious.”

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