Beyoncé’s seventh studio album Renaissance has been taunted since its full release. While it was hailed as a momentous ode to black queer communities’ influence on music and fashion through dance and ballroom culture, it wasn’t without controversy. These include the inclusion of an ableistic slur (now removed, thankfully) and acknowledgment of issues arising from Pharrell’s access to Kelis’ song rights (now removed, but unlikely to return given Kelis’s Bey & Satan joke comes too close). Interspersed among all the messages there’s one song that’s sticking out through my timeline and it’s the love on track three Alien Superstar. A song now referenced alongside a very popular DCEU Teen Titan.
Confidence in this song (which even references Right Say Fred’s hit i’m too sexy) and declaration of self-love has led to fan-cams of many magical girl transformations (like Sailor Moon). While Starfire doesn’t (always) transform like a sailor scout or power ranger, she has that brilliance and power that embodies this song perfectly.
Some of her drawings have even fused elements together Renaissanceis fashion.
This sharing of art has also led to this Fan cams showing Starfire footage out Teen Titans, Titans, Teen Titans Go!, and a series of films. Unfortunately, many of them are being removed from the label, at least on Twitter. There are also many black cosplayers and Bodypaint artist face off against Starfire while invoking Alien Superstar. Even D Monae J, who loves to cosplay as Blackfire, pulled out one of her many Starfire looks to rock to this song on TikTok.
Not Blackfire, Black Starfire
From Zenon to the many women and femmes in leadership positions from the Star Trek and Star Wars stories, there are many female characters in space to relate to for a song like this. These are just the live action! However, I think Starfire came to mind because of her long-standing role as a black-coded spacewoman and her undeniable royalty. Her blackness has been a point of contention since Anna Diop was cast to play her Titans. In addition to visual cues, their history of being formerly enslaved (prior to escaping to Earth), exploited and sexualized (both on and off the page) reflects a colonial history and the present.
While some (including creator Geroge Pérez) have stated that they drew inspiration from elsewhere, other artists like Rags Morales (when writing for the early ’00s) Infinite Crisis) said they were inspired by legendary model Naomi Campbell. Starfire and her younger brother (Ryand’r) have also been drawn by Locs over the decades. Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, non-blacks continue to be influenced by black culture/art (this goes beyond the 80’s) who like black aesthetics/art but don’t like black people. We see this in the thicker hair and fuller lips of even Pérez’s design.
This brings full circle to Queen B’s album, which seeks to thank and uplift the black queer community, even as broader pop culture has forgotten their names and erased the community context that created our favorite looks and phrases.
(above TwitterImage: DC Comics)
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