The Beyoncé Lip-synching Controversy: Why Do We Care So Much?

This is a guest post by Liz Iannotti.

Beyonce, lip-synchBy now, if you haven’t heard about what some are calling the “lip-synch-gate,” I would be quite surprised. In the few days since the presidential inauguration where Beyoncé either did or did not lip-synch (jury is still out), the news has spilled over from US Weekly and Gawker into CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune. It seems like EVERYONE is talking about it. Which has got me wondering: why do we care so much?

I get it; it was disappointing to hear that such a wonderful performance may not have been live. When Beyoncé ripped that earpiece out of her ear at the climactic moment of the National Anthem, we as viewers wanted to believe that she was so into the song, that she said to herself “I’ve GOT this!” and belted out the end that moment, in her own way, live. Well, this may not be so. And not only does America feel duped (there’s just something about lip-synching that feels dishonest, even though it’s quite common), the news seems to be really bothering us beyond a fleeting thought of “ugh, that’s too bad.”

Why? I think it’s because as a society, we are ingrained with this idea of authenticity. Everything has to be real, true and exactly like “they” said it was going to be. Arguably, we value truth more than past generations – because now, we have the technology and the means to find out if an event, a person or a brand isn’t actually doing what it claims. Think there was a lip-synching mishap? Slow down the broadcast on your DVR and watch it back as many times as you want; zoom in on the HD-image of the singer to see if her lips really are moving exactly in synch with the sound. Think there was something fishy with a college football player’s famed girlfriend? Comb through tweets, articles, text message dates, call logs and obituaries to find holes in the story. Think your Subway sandwich isn’t really a “footlong”? Measure it against a ruler and create a social media campaign to attract the brand’s attention to that missing inch of grinder-goodness.

There’s nothing wrong with demanding authenticity and certainly nothing wrong with the truth. Consumers should be able to put faith in their favorite brand. They should be able to expect quality service when they walk into a retail store or to get their latte the way they like it. The onus is on brands and retailers to step up to the plate. They need to be even more aware that these days, consumers expect, are looking for and won’t settle for less than a real, and good, experience.

Did Beyoncé sing live? I think we’re all hoping for a yes — it would be a little victory in our search for authenticity. But brands and retailers beware, we’re holding you to that same standard; we hope you will deliver!

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