“Homecoming”: The return of a cultural icon


Story by Esperanza Garcia, Reporter
Photo courtesy Kevin Winter, Getty Images

On April 7, 2019, Netflix posted tweet with a singular graphic, no caption attached, that just had a bee yellow background with the word ‘homecoming’ in black, in a sorority-esque font, and the date April 17. This graphic, that had no name or image of who was involved in it, made everyone have only one name in mind: Beyoncé.  

Not much different from her previous three bodies of art – “BEYONCÉ,” “Lemonade,” and “The Carters” – “Homecoming: a Film by Beyoncé,” was dropped essentially out of the blue, with only 10 days notice and one trailer. The buzz that it generated in those 10 days is comparable to that that is created when the general public is waiting on the box office film of the year. This buzz and the fact that everyone was well aware that this was a Beyoncé project before even the first syllable of her name was uttered, is a testament of her cultural and artistic impact. To release something of this magnitude on Netflix also has an impact.

In this past year, especially during the time of award season, streaming services – specifically Netflix – were scrutinized and blamed for the ‘death of cinema’ (this was later proven false, but nonetheless is something that is still debated). Netflix is also thought to be, arguably, more accessible than movie theaters, making the documentary something that is available for a greater amount of people.

“I’m going back home, to the stage. This is my homecoming,” Beyoncé says in a narration of a montage of her first practice day, in her documentary “Homecoming: a Film by Beyoncé,” which shows her 8-month long process of preparing for her Coachella performance, where she made history as the first Black woman to ever headline the music festival.

The name “homecoming” is a very fitting one. Apart from her performance being the first since the birth of her twins, Rumi and Sir, it is one that highlights the homecoming experience of historically Black colleges/universities (HBCUs). She says, “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of putting on my flower crown, it was most important that I brought out our culture to Coachella.” From the percussion, wind, and string instruments, to the dancers and the vocalists, to the stage design, Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was a celebration of Black culture.

That decision is very significant, it shows that she made the decision that instead of trying to cater to the predominantly white, upper-class audience that the festival attracts, and stick to something that they could be more comfortable with, she decided to showcase her culture. This aided in creating a space not only for herself, but also for her culture and race so that they can have a seat at the table in future events

The rehearsal montages of the documentary are filmed in a manner similar to home videos, and they feel like it, too. There is a level of intimacy that we usually don’t get from Beyoncé, who seldom gives interviews or does press conferences. When shown alongside her stage, it almost feels as if we went on that 8 month journey with her.

This is a documentary for everyone. For her die-hard fans, for those that listen to her music casually, to anyone that has an appreciation of art, to those that like to learn about culture, and yes, even to those that think that she is an “overrated” artist.

In two hours and 17 minutes, Beyoncé gives us not only this more intimate look at her craft, but also further establishes herself to be worthy of every single praise and stellar review that she is given.

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