By Eamonn Burke
Last week, Beyoncé released the second trailer for her upcoming film Black is King, set to release on July 31. The production is a visual album that will feature multiple celebrity cameos including Jay-Z and Lupita Nyong’o, as seen in the trailer. Coming one year after Disney’s lasted adaption of the The Lion King, the film spins the old story into a tale of a young kings ascendence into power that represents the journey of black families worldwide. Although the new trailer is not much longer than the previous teaser, it offers a deeper look into the story: “Life is a set of choices. Lead, or be led astray. Follow your light, or lose it” Beyoncé’s opening voiceover says.
Beyoncé called the project a “labor of love” and adds that “The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant.” However, the film has not gone without controversy. Many have criticized the film for cultural appropriation and for “romanticizing Africa.” One such critic is black feminist Jade Bentil at the University of Oxford, who tweeted this statement:
“The repeated tropes/symbolic gestures that homogenise & essentialise thousands of African cultures in service of securing the terrain for Black capitalist possibilities & futures is tired.”
Other criticisms include glorifying African cultures inappropriately and creating false aesthetics. Scenes from the trailer such as Beyoncé riding a horse dressed in animal hide and her excessive jewelry have created controversy about how she is portraying African culture.