In Case You Missed It: Affordable Failures


Every Tuesday in In Case You Missed It, Mike Haverty takes a harder look at the news you might’ve missed or glossed over.

They bet against Beyoncé.

Nobody bets against Beyoncé and wins.

It’s not that I could blame the president. To those disillusioned by Beyoncé lip-syncing the national anthem, we all are a little disillusioned. On the other hand, allowing a live performance seemed risky. The $1.24 million spent on the inauguration ceremony, or the “ceremoney” (sigh), guaranteed a flawless event. It’s circular logic at its finest: The ceremony will have the best crew, tech, and performers to make sure nothing can possibly go wrong for Obama’s inauguration on MLK Day, but since it’s Obama’s inauguration on MLK Day, the ceremony will play Beyoncé’s prerecorded vocals to make sure nothing can possibly go wrong.  To condense it further: they can afford not affording to fail.

I’m sure Beyoncé could have done it live. I’m sure they had the requisite equipment and sound crew to make an auditorium weep openly by crinkling tin foil into a mic. And don’t take me as a Fox News-like crumudgeon looking for flaws and  cackling “Jewbama’s inauguration went too well” over a jug marked with a triple X. She was still damn wonderful. Lip-syncing is a way to ensure that a performer is at their best when called upon. The video of Beyoncé performing the anthem is impressive for a new reason. She sells lip-syncing hard. A wide range of emotion to say nothing.

I don’t know how people saying “I don’t know how (a giant cultural problem) is still a thing!” is still a thing. I enjoyed it for a while. It was the perfect way to air frustrations in a nation perplexed by equality. And rightfully so. America is so bad on equality that until this week, women willing to fight in our military were told “nah, we’re good.” While the phrase was fine for finding other people fed up with the country, the sentiment is poisonous. Saying “I don’t know how…” belittles the actual problem. You don’t know why “aborting a rape baby is tampering with evidence” is still a thing? I don’t either, but I sure would like all of us to figure out which landscape can foster that thinking. (At the very least, can we settle on a less gross use of the word “tamper?”) It’s lip-syncing the truth, in a way. We like to know enough to get angry. Feeling angry can feel great. But it’s possible to feel angry despite not knowing enough to be constructive or, even harder, compassionate. Like their ideological opposition, the “I don’t know-er” shows great pride in their ignorance of another person’s ignorance. Both parties are guilty of it. To actually venture into the territory of the other ideology without our voice playing is dangerous. Really, we have nothing to lose. Mentally though, we can’t afford not affording to fail.