Left, the camera zooms out from the burning house, emblematic of the curse; right, the camera continues to recede in the next shot, this time travelling backward through a Louisiana Bayou. These two shots help the viewer travel from the haunted house in chapter 5 back to Madewood Plantation for chapter 6.
CH. 6 – ACCOUNTABILITY
“I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationships.”Beyonce, Vogue Magazine September 2018
Left, the grounds of Madewood Plantation from the perspective of the master bedroom; right, two young Black girls, a symbol of the future, run up the stairs of the plantation house, a symbol of the past.
Left, two young Black girls playing with dolls on the bed; right, the hands of the girls fixing their dolls dress and jumping on a bed. They represent one of many generations of Black women quite literally overcoming the past by healing in this historical place.
A young girl watches Beyoncé’s beauty routine admiringly, and the spoken word implies a yearning to see herself in the same image.
New Orleans chef and activist Leah Chase, otherwise known as “The Queen of Creole Cuisine,” an iconic representation of the strength, resilience, and wisdom of generations of Black women who “cannot be contained.”
Father Figures and Daughters
Left, A young New Orleanian Black man driving down a road with rain noticeably on his windows, upward gaze implying hope; right, storm clouds form, alluding to the floods of Hurricane Katrina as well as the transformative water of “Denial.”
As we hear how meeting President Obama inspired him to live for his kids, a catalyst of sorts in his own effort to “break the curse,” we see grainy images of the man and his family.
Visuals bring us back to the ruins of Fort Macomb. Beyoncé dons a colorful, African patterned southern-gothic dress and sings alongside blues legend Little Freddie King. Like she did with Serena Williams in the Madewood Plantation, this is Beyoncé again reclaiming a dark historical space as her own.
Left column, a father and daughter riding a horse through a residential area; right, Beyoncé riding a horse on a trail. Despite Hollywood’s portrayal of the American West, Black cowboys were very common, and particularly in Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, where it’s common to see Black men and women ride horses in the streets.
Left, home video footage of a young Beyoncé with her father Matthew Knowles; right, present day footage of Matthew with his granddaughter, Blue Ivy.
We’re introduced to the child’s perspective through this shot, featured in the original HBO trailer. The fact that the adults do not engage with the camera but the child does divides us from the adult world and submerges the viewer fully in the world of a child. The filtering also suggests the past.
We now observe a mother and father arguing from a similar angle. The camera turns away, similar to how the young girl then covers her ears due to the stress of the situation. Both the camera and the child are affected by the unhealthy relationship dynamics. As the shot ends, the father comforts the young girl, which complicates the picture of the father and adds perspective to the relationships at the core of “Daddy Lessons.”
Left, a child plays with a bride figurine; right, a mother kisses the child’s bandaged finger, with the camera in that child’s perspective. These work together to show the admiration the child has for her mother as well as the love and care she receives.
Left, the camera is spun by an adult male, giving the impression that we’re joyfully being spun in the air by a father figure; right, a paper boat drifts down a street and crosses the camera’s position. The simple child’s toy here suggests the passage of time, from past to present, introducing the adult’s perspective of male influences from her childhood we get throughout the song.
Laid to Rest
In the outro, the setting of a New Orleans jazz funeral takes focus. As the somber dirge is overtaken by the second line’s celebratory song and dance, this marks a definitive turning point, laying to rest the pain and angry postures of the past for hope and healing.
As Beyoncé’s voice echoes, we return to the parking garage where we saw her at her most vengeful. But the garage is now empty, symbolizing an abandonment of the masculine, combative posture inherited from her father and displayed up until now.
BONUS MATERIALS: Episode References and Links
- Warsan Shire’s spoken word how to wear your mother’s lipstick – (the desperation)
- Leah Chase (1923 – 2019), “The Queen of Creole Cuisine,” remembered by NPR
- Ray Charles’s Early in the Morning (a reference to Dooky Chase at 1:46)
- Pat Mitchell interviews Leah Chase for ted.com
- Dooky Chase’s reopening from NPR’s “All Things Considered”
- Brooke Obie, again, from The Rumpus
- Beyoncé’s 2006 interview with CBSNews reflecting on the original Destiny’s Child disbandment
- Beyoncé performing “Daddy Lessons” live with The Dixie Chicks at the 2016 Country Music Awards