“Yours and Mine”: Beyoncé’s New Short Film Is a Rare Attempt to Open Up

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This morning, 364 days after she sneak-attacked us with her self-titled album, Beyoncé debuted an 11-minute, black-and-white video reflecting and elaborating on the LP’s themes. Titled “Yours and Mine,” the short film is no doubt a promotional tool for Beyoncé‘s recently released “Platinum Edition,” but there’s also something worth appreciating here: Beyoncé attempting to open up in a way that may not be totally natural to her, as someone who’s been expected to smile pretty for the cameras since childhood. “I was brought up seeing my mother trying to please and make everyone comfortable,” she says.

Spliced between clips from her many, many Beyoncé videos are new, fastidiously composed, and clearly well thought out shots of Bey reflecting on feminism, her marriage, happiness, and fame in a way she rarely does. Whereas Beyoncé got at her feelings on these topics, the thoughts she has about them don’t often come into play. It’s easy to take an album like Beyoncé at face value, because it seems so personal and emotional, but as any confessional creator will tell you, the aspects that Bey chooses to accentuate in her art are a sliver of who she is. Your standard Beyoncé interview won’t likely get at all this, because she’s most often asked to explain and respond to the responses to her art, instead of just speaking her mind in an unmediated way that clarifies where her vision comes from. From that perspective, “Yours and Mine” is worth a watch.

As for its newsworthiness, “Yours and Mine” has its moments. After the rumor-filled year her marriage has endured in the court of public opinion, it’s only natural that she may feel inclined to discuss her views on monogamy. “There’s nothing more exciting than having a witness to your own life,” she says.

Moreover, her romantic partnership seems to inform her views on feminism, to some extent: “Men and women balance each other out, and we have to get to a point where we’re comfortable appreciating each other,” she says. It’s a take on feminism we don’t hear all that often, and one that is simple enough to resonate with all audiences. I really do believe Beyoncé is a powerful feminist figure, because she can break down feminism to such a basic level that any young girl can get behind it. It’s something her critics in academia miss.

Some would say the point is too watered down to mean much, but Beyoncé’s admission that she was once afraid of declaring her feminism is a rare “Bad Feminist” moment that feels exceedingly real and worth hearing after her banner year of celebrating female empowerment. “I was always afraid of that word because people put so much on it, when honestly, it’s really simple: it’s someone that believes in equality for men and women,” she says, adding the she also considers herself a humanist and feels empathy for the masculine pressures placed on men, especially black men.

With “Yours and Mine,” it’s almost as if Bey is saying, “This is what’s been on my mind in the year since releasing Beyoncé,” an album that clearly meant a lot to her. Even her 2013 HBO documentary, Life Is But a Dream , rarely reached the level of specificity Beyoncé achieves here, in moments like her reflection on a friend’s death. That earlier self-directed documentary showed her process as an artist, a businesswoman, and even a new mother, while her Instagram frames her as a pop star personality to obsess over. But Beyoncé, the people pleaser, knows that isn’t enough. We want to see the person she’s always hidden in plain sight.