Having already stung the likes of Rachel Roy and, yeesh, Rachael Ray into anaphylactic shock, the BeyHive has swarmed over to a new victim in vengeance—though perhaps also mortification—of their Queen B, Beyoncé.
Rita Ora, girl, grab your EpiPen.
Armed with scant evidence—a Snapchat and a flimsy knowledge of how mirrors work—members of the Hive have now ruled that Ora may, in fact, be the infamous “Becky with the good hair.”
The line, and this Becky, stormed into our lives during the premiere of Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, Saturday night on HBO.
Much of the masterpiece dealt with the stages of grief, defiance, and rebuilding a woman goes through who is cheated on.
Whether or not it was actually inspired by Beyoncé’s own relationship with Jay Z—and the visual album and the song’s lyrics certainly do a good job titillating all of us with the notion that it is—the mere suggestion of any art imitating life immediately resurfaced memories of the 2014 Met Ball, during which Beyoncé’s sister Solange physically attacked Bey’s husband, Jay Z, in an elevator.
As security cam footage went viral, so did rumors of Jay’s cheating—something that Solange was reportedly admonishing her brother-in-law for in what she thought might be the only private space the family would find themselves in during Fashion’s Super Bowl.
At the time, many tabloids presumed that Rachel Roy, a fashion designer and former spouse to Jay’s ex-business partner Damon Dash, was the woman Solange suspected Jay of cheating with.
“Solange was defending Beyoncé in the elevator because Solange finds Jay’s friendship with Rachel to be WAY too close for comfort and it makes Solange very uncomfortable,” a source told Hollywood Life. “Beyoncé also confronted Rachel and said, ‘Don’t talk to my sister like that,’ after [Rachel] confronted Solange.”
And when, after Lemonade aired, Roy posted an Instagram cheekily—and, honestly, quite viciously—captioned “good hair don’t care,” those who cast Lemonade as Beyoncé’s artistic representation of an actual cheating saga she experienced with Jay Z assigned the role of “Becky with the good hair” to Roy.
The BeyHive—the name for Beyoncé’s passionate, almost to the point of oppressive, fan community—avenged their queen by eviscerating her in every way possible on social media, eventually causing Roy to tweet a message against cyberbullying.
The Hive was indiscriminate in its buzzing, too, pollinating celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s social media with vitriol, apparently out of confusion over who Rachel Roy was.
Now the swarm has redirected their flight path.
On Monday evening, they sought out pop star and Internet running joke Rita Ora, after the singer reportedly posted a Snapchat selfie wearing a bra/bikini situation with lemons that cover the nipples. She’s also wearing a necklace which, when you look at the photo, appears to be a “J.”
The lemons—lemonade. The “J”—Jay Z. Suddenly Ora, according to the Hive, had shoved Rachel Roy to the side and proclaimed, via a social media outlet popularized by teens who enjoy distorting their faces into the shape of a panda bear, that she is “Becky With the Good Hair,” essentially requesting to being brutalized by the angry mob.
Of course, it’s more than likely, as in duh, that the necklace in question is not a “J,” but in fact the lowercase “r” necklace that Ora wears pretty regularly, just flipped because she took the selfie in a mirror. Ora’s Snapchat, then, was probably in support of Beyoncé and the amazing work she did with the Lemonade release. Not copping to being her husband’s mistress.
Plus, Ora has modeled the bra before, as recently as four days ago. Four days ago none of us knew what Lemonade had in store for us, least of all the explosive cheating references it would boast.
Now, the Hive isn’t totally out of its mind to have the kneejerk reaction to think that Ora was outing herself as Becky. Rumors of an affair between Ora, at one time Jay’s protégée, and Mr. Knowles-Carter have swirled for a while now.
Most recently, they were sent into a fever pitch when, as if hustling to be cast in Elevator Brawl: The Met Gala sequel, Ora was photographed at last year’s fashion ball nuzzling her chin on Jay Z’s shoulder. (Several outlets reported that Jay caressed Ora’s chin with his fingers in the shot, but in the photo it appears to be Diddy whose hand is on Jay’s shoulder, where Ora’s chin is resting.) Candid photo between artistic collaborators and good friends? Or public proof of an illicit affair and grand slight of our Queen, Beyoncé?
The BeyHive’s got no time for a jury of peers. GUILTY of first degree C.A.B.: Crimes Against Beyoncé.
For what it’s worth, there are professional hints that an affair between Ora and Jay Z would seem implausible—at least that it wouldn’t still be going on. Ora has a pretty fractured relationship with Roc Nation, Jay’s record label.
According to The Wrap, Ora filed suit against the company in December in order to get out of her contract, claiming that they had “lost interest in her.”
Then in February, Roc Nation counter-sued, claiming that Ora still owed them four more albums and claiming that it had already sunk $2 million into a second album that she hasn’t finished. Even if that necklace was a “J” and Ora was trying to assert that she’s Becky, the timing would be odd considering that we’d venture she isn’t on great terms with Jay Z right now.
But here’s the thing: I can’t tell what Beyoncé’s thinking—if I did I’d be a whole lot richer, and better at planning my life around surprise albums and scheduled-at-the-last-minute HBO specials—but I wonder if the whole point of the line is that it doesn’t matter exactly who “Becky with the good hair” is.
Granted this all started when Roy thrust herself into the conversation with her Instagram (not that we would ever condone the misogynistic vilifying of the designer that’s followed, in total absence of any blame on Jay). But whether or not you see Lemonade as a dramatization of a real-life marriage fracture that began to crack when Jay cheated on Beyoncé, the power of the album is the universality of what Bey is singing about.
Her art has always been about her relationship to love—not needing love for validation, finding it when she needed it, wanting it, fostering it, being hurt and growing through it. Lemonade is very much about a person working through the stages of betrayal, fighting for a love that completes her.
“Becky with the good hair” is anyone. It’s anyone who has wronged you. You. As much as it is a woman that may or may not have slept with Beyoncé’s husband, it is about the person that you have had suspicions about, grieved over, become destructive over, avenged over, and forgave. Forgave, forgave yourself over, forgave him over, and became stronger because of.
This witch hunt, this mob mentality, this ickiness: it’s not Lemonade.
We’ve been given the lemons. We’re supposed to make lemonade. We’re not supposed to flood a person’s Instagram, whether we think they deserve it or not, with literal lemons (in emoji form) and then challenge them to dare to try to make lemonade of it. That’s just one interpretation of an album that is so powerful because of all the ways you can interpret it. But for me, this is not the point.
You ever get lemon juice in a bee sting? Citrus in a wound—that hurts. And the Hive’s about to sting you, so stand back.