Why the Press Should Ignore Beyoncé’s Photo Ban

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
April 25 2013 4:32 PM

Why the Press Should Ignore Beyoncé’s Photo Ban

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The press isn't required to accomodate Beyoncé on everything

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is notorious for keeping tight control of her image. She archives every photograph taken of her. When she isn't keeping her own video diary, she employs a videographer to record many of her waking moments. Now she has decided she wants everyone else to play by her rules as well. Yahoo reports that, irked by photos taken of her by professional photographers during her Super Bowl performance (The snaps showed her making snarly or supposedly "unflattering" facial expressions as she danced, and Internet commentators later photoshopped them to poke fun at her):

This time around, Beyoncé isn't taking any chances. The star has reportedly instituted a ban on independent professional photographers to shoot her ongoing Mrs. Carter World Tour, according to the New York Post and The Guardian. Instead, news outlets are being given a link to a website featuring pre-approved photos of Beyoncé taken by ONE photographer.
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Knowles-Carter is used to getting her way with these things, it seems. Her commercial draw is such that HBO even aired an entire documentary about her that she produced herself, rather than an independently directed examination that might have produced actual insights. But while Knowles-Carter may have the right to log her life all she likes, no news outlet should feel required to oblige her directives. If Knowles-Carter is going to stick to this demand on her tour, news outlets should pay for fans’ crowd-sourced photos instead—or just not cover the tour at all.

When Knowles-Carter insists that the press only have access to photos she approves, she’s denying independent media outlets the ability to illustrate the points they want to make about her tour in the way they want to make them. She’s turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up. No media outlet is required to give Knowles-Carter publicity for a major money-making enterprise. But if her tour is going to get reviewed and covered, media companies should think about what they really want to say, and how they can get creative about saying it.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.