There is really no standard by which any reasonable person would judge Lemonade, Beyoncé's new hour long visual album, which recently aired on HBO kid-friendly viewing. The subject matter is pretty adult, there are copious f-bombs throughout, and it gets a little dark in spots. But, all that aside, should you let your kid watch Lemonade? I'm reluctant to admit I let my 5-year-old watch it, and I'm glad I did. Here's why.
I want my daughter to know for sure that girl power is real and something she can access whenever she needs it. I want her to express herself and never be afraid or ashamed of her feelings. I want her to know her own strength and be her own person. And for me, Beyoncé is an ideal role model for all of those things. She sings at the presidential inauguration and rocks the Super Bowl. And her anthem "Run The World (Girls)" is required listening in our house. So when the promos for Lemonade started airing, my daughter took notice and got excited.
She liked the scary dark underwater bits and asked if there might be vampires. She asked about why Bey was so mad at her husband, and I explained that she was sad that he might love someone else. That made her sad. She loved seeing Serena and all of the crazy costume changes. As for the f-bombs, I did my best to act horrified at each and every one and explained that this is art, not how people talk normally. Just like we wouldn't wear a brass Nefertiti bra to school, we wouldn't talk like Beyoncé on the playground. It's art, not real life, and I think she got it.
Good art doesn't come around very often and I truly believe that Lemonade is something that will still matter decades from now. It will be discussed in my daughter's college women's studies courses. Lemonade matters because it's putting powerful, complicated messages about feminism and racism into bite-size bits that anyone can digest.
Lemonade serves as an emotional blueprint for how women can claim their own power and use it to handle sadness, loss, and love. In Lemonade, Beyoncé is giving every woman her best advice on a level that's not overtly intellectual. Instead she knows how to feel her way through things. Lemonade also happens to be beautiful in every way. Remarkably, none of that was lost on my little girl.
But that's just me. Her dad wasn't thrilled I made watching Lemonade such a big deal, but there was no containing my excitement. I was ready to pull the plug if anything rose to the adult level of say the Red Lobster reference in "Formation." That's just too dirty to be explained away casually. I have some limits.
All that said, most parents probably wouldn't want their little ones to spend an hour dredging up Beyonce's marital woes in music video format. But there's benefit, I think, in exposing kids to a rich world of art and culture in an effort to broaden their sense of the universe. And that's what I'm really going for. From "Back in Black" to "Purple Rain" and "The Blue Danube", my husband and I are making an effort in our house to expose our kid to as much art, music, and culture as we think she can handle. And, for our family, Beyoncé and Lemonade are just standard viewing. I hope she always remembers sitting there in her childhood living room watching it with her mama.
But, when it comes down to whether all kids should watch it, parents will have to make the decisions about its appropriateness for their own crew.