“We were born to be Beyonce fans.” When you find your calling in life, you do it on purpose. These men and women waited two months in line, camped outside a football stadium for a chance to glance at Queen B more closely. You may expect to see a film about celebrity culture, obsessive fans, or Beyonce herself seen through the eyes of those who know her persona best. You’ll end up watching a smartly done account of sexism, identity, human sexuality, homophobia, consumption, and celebrity. Themes sprinkled as subtly as one can manage over seemingly innocuous conversations. Themes that are at the heart of the film, minus the spotlight. A spotlight that actually never shone on B herself, yet another tactful tool in the director’s arsenal. This film was never about her. These people and their waiting and longing and wanting and love and desperation also have nothing to do with her.
Using a documentary-style, plotless script, Waiting for B. takes the viewer on a journey of self-discovery through the eyes of the inaccessible. A word her fans themselves use, since Beyonce is famous for keeping her distance. Her loving fans excuse her, though. It’s just her way, and they love her unconditionally because, mainly, of ALL that she allows. Through having become one of the most successful performers of all time – though female, though black – she has opened doors to endless possibilities. Her fans see this, or feel this, and latch on to it fiercely. They are because she is. They can because she’s done it. They see different options for themselves and the lives they lead, ultimately because she has done just that as well. What you see in this film clearly and from the start is the sense of community created amongst those who dared wait outside in the heat, in a tent, for a chance at closeness to greatness. This community, organized and even managed by a talented young man with obvious leadership skills, does what a community ought to do: it thrives. They accomplish precisely what they set out to do, which was to wait outside the soccer stadium in order to be the first ones admitted onto the lawn once the gates opened. They have schedules. They split shifts. All the while, they are fully living their lives outside of their shared mania. The director intersperses shots from the line with scenes taken from these wait-in-liners’ everyday lives.
One of the characters mentions Beyonce herself hiding her blackness, or wanting to. He brings up the fact that she has long blonde and straightened-out hair, and that isn’t representative of black people or their bodies. Another fan says she isn’t dark-skinned enough to be entirely, purely black. This does not get resolved, and that is exactly where the director’s brilliance shines brightest. We are left to fend for ourselves, while being entertained by this group of youngsters with a mission and a heart. Another character is shown in the midst of money conversations with his mother, while his (supposedly) brother watches football on TV. Yet another character professes his profound dislike of Brazil and its infamous rampant violence, while claiming to be an American born in the wrong country. A young woman lists her many accomplishments – her English ability, her college degree, her social skills, her trust in herself – all inspired by the Queen. The most poignant accounts come from the young men who hide their sexuality even at times for a long time from themselves. These are young men who find in Beyonce’s music the outer expression of themselves. They’re beautiful, they’re fabulous, they’re loud, they’re fun, and they’re gay. In a soccer-loving, machismo-drenched South American country, their space is limited. When crowds of loud and brash hooligan-like men show up to cheer on their favorite clubs, Beyonce’s fans stay small. They make themselves less visible in order to avoid confrontation that can lead to violence and harm. They’re brought back to the reality of their lives outside the circle of fandom and supermegastardom Queen B so beautifully designed for them.
An entertaining and subtle movie from beginning to end, Waiting for B. builds loving characters without us ever noticing it. By the end, the viewer is enthralled and content that the ending, at least for this one night lived after a two-month wait, is happy. Queen B came, danced, sang, dazzled, and went. These loving young women and men of Brazil cried and enjoyed and pushed and shoved their way through their own coming to terms with themselves, while thoroughly enjoying the process. Beyonce has empowered them to be. And Queen B she may have been crowned, but her kingdom will live on in these people’s hearts long after she’s gone.