Beyonce's "champagne-gate" is dumb: No, she wasn't pouring your tuition into a hot tub

Beyonce's being taken to task for the ultimate 1 percent statement -- by people who don't understand the 1 percent

Published May 20, 2015 8:37PM (EDT)

Beyonce       (AP/Jordan Strauss)
Beyonce (AP/Jordan Strauss)

“Beyoncé pouring my tuition fees into a hot tub” tweeted @CollegeStudent Tuesday alongside an image of the singer pouring out a bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne into a hot tub in her video with Nicki Minaj, “Feeling Myself,” available exclusively on music streaming service TIDAL.

This was one of a chorus of voices taking Beyoncé to task for supposedly dumping a beverage worth $20,000 down the drain, an act TIME called “the ultimate 1% statement.” Except it’s not. As it turns out, the luxury drink nicknamed Ace of Spades, is probably the version that only retails for $300 (some bottles do run in the tens of thousands of dollars, with a 15 liter one going for $100,000)—and she probably didn’t pay for it, given that her husband, Jay-Z, owns the company.

But even if she did waste $20,000 bubbly, so what? Do we really expect someone with the wealth, fame and platform of Beyoncé to act as if she’s saving her pennies for a rainy day? Celebrities don’t get to be celebrities by behaving in the same way as us mere mortals. They do so precisely by being over-the-top, excessive, daring and dramatic.

Furthermore, the champagne is a drop in the bucket in her spending, according to numerous articles, such as this one claiming she and Jay-Z spent $1.5 million in baby gifts for Blue Ivy, including a $600,000 solid gold rocking horse. If you’re going to lambaste her for the champagne, why no go after any public display of wealth? We’re the ones who are hypocritical if we expect someone who made $115 million in 2014 to not want to show off some of what that can buy her, especially in a music video.

I get the backlash, but I don’t agree with it. Not only did Beyoncé just get back from a humanitarian mission to Haiti, she and Jay-Z reportedly donate tens of thousands of dollars to bail out protestors in Ferguson and Baltimore, which are just two of multiple acts of charity she’s undertaken. Unless you think she should be donating every last dollar she’s earned, the outrage over the champagne is misplaced. All she’s doing is tapping into our collective dreams about what we might do if we could afford the luxury—also known as doing her job as an entertainer.

Of course there are far too many people who can’t life’s basic necessities, but to imply that Beyoncé is responsible for fixing every ill of the world, as the tweeter who wrote, “seeing Beyoncé pour out a $20,000 bottle into a pool is a slap in the face to me” is unfair. A music video is a fantasy snapshot, not, presumably, a peek inside how she lives every day of her life. If she’d also given a statement and said something like, “This is how everyone should party,” that would be one thing, but she didn’t.

I don’t really think Beyoncé needs anyone defending her, no matter how much the bottle cost, but I feel the need to decry the hypocrisy of those who want stars to be both thrifty like them, and glamorous headline-makers. At the same time, if you are a fan of celebrities and pop culture in general, you need to recognize that celebrities probably have more money than you and are going to spend it in ways you don’t approve of.

But if you’re going to give her a hard time over this, then all the rest of her lavish spending is also fair game. I’m more on the Defamer side of things, where Jay Hathaway wrote, “She poured out negative money and soaked herself in warm, bubbly profit from the pockets of people who can afford to pay $300 for champagne. She is a business genius.” After all, people are talking about her video—including people like me who haven’t even seen it yet, because I’m not a TIDAL subscriber. Whether she intended the champagne pour to be a publicity stunt, it’s turned into one.

Sorry, @CollegeStudent—that was never your college tuition to begin with.

By Rachel Kramer Bussel

Rachel Kramer Bussel is the author of "Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays" and the editor of more than 70 anthologies, including "The Big Book of Orgasms" and the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series. She teaches erotica writing workshops online and in-person, writes widely about books, culture, sex, dating and herself, and Tweets @raquelita.

MORE FROM Rachel Kramer Bussel

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Beyonce Champagnegate