Even before I knew Tina Turner as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, or even memorized a single lyric of hers, somehow I knew the most horrific, humiliating details about her life.
This is not a strange or unique entry for a public figure, especially a woman. As a recent series of documentaries illuminating toxic tabloid culture has shown us, the personal troubles of a female celebrity can easily darken their entire career and negatively affect the public’s perception of them forever.
In the case of Turner, who died this week from an unknown illness, I would never see her solely as a survivor of the brutal abuse of her ex-husband and music partner, Ike Turner. Growing up, however, I’ve always been struck by how her infamously volatile marriage was constantly portrayed to me as a key point: If it weren’t for the hilarious reenactments of domestic violence scenes in the movie by my (usually male) peers in middle school. 1993 biography of Turner What should love do with it?they were telling her traumatic background story for shock value.
They probably wanted us to know that I and others were watching a very popular, “adult” movie. Looking back, I attribute their mockery of Turner’s abuse to the sickly fascination you had when you were subjected to dark, (hopefully) unconventional behavior as a child. Perhaps it was hard to understand that he was actually a real person and not just a character (the fictional exploit is no laughing matter, either). much What should love do with it? A realistic, empathetic (and Turner-approved) portrait of his life has inadvertently sensationalized his pain for insensitive audiences.
Unfortunately, I watched Ike’s abuse of Turner be met with the same kind of fun as an adult. I saw a production last year. Tina, biographical jukebox musical of the singer in my hometown. While the entire show was pretty underwhelming, I found myself especially pissed off during the scenes where Ike’s character scolds and curses Tina before finally beating her up. The depiction itself didn’t necessarily upset me. However, the amount of eerie laughter these moments evoked in the audience left me with a disgusted, sickening feeling.
I wish I could write off the giggles of the crowd as a sign of discomfort—and maybe a few of them were. Why pay to pay homage to Turner to mock the part of his life that made him so sympathetic? However, I’ve seen too many examples of rappers, comedians, reality stars, and adults in my life—many of whom would probably be described as Turner fans—indiscriminately talking about their marriage as a joke or an outrageous anecdote. benefit of the doubt to the show’s audience.
Since Turner’s death was announced on Wednesday, a video A mention of the “Proud Mary” singer performing with Beyoncé at the 2008 Grammy Awards circulated the Internet again, prompting further commentary on how Turner had influenced elements of the young star’s career. As I watched the clip, I instantly thought of Beyoncé’s controversial reference to “eat the cake, Anna Mae,” rapping on her husband Jay-Z’s 2013 collaboration “Drunk in Love.”
Before I put the blame entirely on Beyoncé—it’s her husband’s words, after all—one of the complaints I’ve had with the “Crazy in Love” singer over the years (and one of the many confusions about her feminism) is that she approves of those words. such a disrespectful and insulting lyric, especially about a woman he often refers to as an intellectual. (Since Turner’s death, I’m not the only one who has been this frustrated.) Again, I partially appreciate the way. What should love do with it?The phrase “Anna Mae” that Ike (Laurence Fishburne) said before shoving the cake in Turner’s (Angela Bassett) face unintentionally turned Ike into a silly, cartoonish villain in the audience’s subconscious.
Yet Beyoncé and Jay-Z aren’t the only culprits in music or pop culture who have reduced Turner’s experiences to an appropriate metaphor. One of my favorite Drake songs is “Portland” from the 2017 mixtape more life Quavo raps, “Griselda Blanco with left hand Ike Turner/Trap moves.” Less shockingly, on Chris Brown and Kevin McCall’s 2011 joint song “Deuces,” the second artist said, “It finally hit me/finally hit me, as did Tina in the limo.” And in Biggie Smalls’ 1994 song “Machine Gun Funk”, “Let’s suck a misdemeanor/Beat the motherfuckers like Ike beat Tina.”
The viral emergence of Ike Turner memes in 2016 was similarly aggravating; the painting in question actually belonged to Fishburne, who played Ike. What should love do with it?She gives a menacing look that looks admittedly ridiculous while wearing a shiny bowl-cut wig. Even so, it’s hard to look at any presentation of Ike without being reminded of his monstrous behavior, especially in that movie where he’s portrayed as utterly terrifying. It’s normal for the internet to thoughtlessly take any photo, video clip, or public piece out of context as long as it serves as a joke, and this was certainly another disturbing example.
After first opening up about Ike’s abuse in 1981 People In the interview, Turner wasn’t shy about how her late ex-husband had haunted her, leaving a permanent stain on a life that should have been full of pleasure as a famous rock star. The constant reliving of domestic abuse in the media is essentially the premise of the 2021 Max documentary. Tinawidely recommended and re-discussed on Twitter after his death.
Although Turner spares artists such as Jay-Z and Drake in the film, he is aware of how spectacle his suffering has become; one for others to post thoughtlessly with any respect for his recovery. Considering Megan Thee Stallion, who was convicted for shooting her attacker Tory Lanez last December, or Amber Heard, whose abuse allegations against her ex-husband Johnny Depp have become TikTok’s cruel bait, it’s hard to imagine these women escaping the genre Turner’ of the disrespectful treatment that he suffered as a survivor in society.
While millions of people around the world will likely spend the next days and weeks declaring their appreciation for Turner, it is equally important to acknowledge that he has been repeatedly wronged by communities that claim to love him. This is one of the main contradictions of being a woman and especially being a Black woman. At the same time, you can become one of the most respected people in the world for your talent, while being the subject of cruel jokes.