Celebrities tend to be self-involved. To some extent, they have to be. When you make a living that focuses largely on your own image, and how you present that image to the public, there is a natural tendency to become a bit wrapped up in one’s own uber-glamorous, ultra-famous ego.
Still, some might feel Beyonce is taking ego to a new level with her upcoming TV movie.
HBO confirmed Tuesday that it plans to air in February ‘‘Beyonce: A Documentary Special,’’ an ‘‘intimate, feature-length’’ portrait of Beyonce that was directed by Beyonce, executive produced by Beyonce, and shopped around by Beyonce a few months ago.
So basically, it’s ‘‘ ‘Beyonce the Movie,’ starring Beyonce, written and directed by Beyonce, produced by Beyonce, featuring the music of Beyonce and broadcast on HBO, where the B now stands for Beyonce. Note: Closed-captioning subtitles also provided by Beyonce.’’
It seems a bit excessive — narcissistic-cessive, perhaps? — even to those who are serious fans of Sasha Fierce. And it raises a question: At what point does a celebrity’s effort to control her own brand start to work against her?
At this cultural moment, the famous and even the non-famous have the ability to build mini-franchises around their own identities. With a large enough Twitter or Tumblr following, a person — even one who isn’t married to Jay-Z — can become a ‘‘brand.’’
The trick for a big-time celebrity — one whose talent has already been widely celebrated and commodified — is to manage her image in a way that seems authentic in a climate in which authenticity is more valued than ever. In other words, she — and her team, of course — must create a positive public perception of herself without seeming to make an effort. Actresses such as Emma Stone and Sandra Bullock are very good at this. Kim Kardashian is less so, although that doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting her income. As for Beyonce, maybe a different set of rules apply to her. Let’s call them Diva Rules.
The mother of Blue Ivy Carter puts herself out there in ways that make her seem real and candid — just take a look at her official Tumblr filled with non-glamour-shots of her sans makeup (but of course, also looking fantastic). But, more important, she has carefully built herself into a symbol of take-charge female empowerment. Starring in a movie about herself that she’s entirely responsible for crafting is 100 percent consistent with that image.
Yes, being a control freak might be eye-rolling to some, but at this point, it’s also synonymous with who Beyonce is, or at least who we think she is. Same goes for the queen of image control, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, who, by the way, starred in and directed her own self-indulgent Thanksgiving special last November.
‘‘Beyonce: A Documentary’’ might wind up showing us some images of the megastar we haven’t seen. It almost certainly will generate some buzz and, perhaps, decent ratings for HBO.