1. Independent Woman
On May 24, Twentieth Century Fox will release the computer-animated movie Epic, in which Beyoncé, arguably the biggest star of our time, will voice the role of Queen Tara, the empress of a microscopic kingdom. What could be more appropriate?
Think about it. Over the past year or so, Beyoncé has had a run unparalleled in modern show business: she gave birth to her first child (which she went halfsies on with the most successful rapper in history), was slagged for lip-synching a song at the president’s second inauguration, redeemed herself with a dominating halftime performance at the Super Bowl, co-directed and produced an HBO documentary about herself, served as part of the inspiration for the award-winning novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and released a single, “Bow Down,” that turned her career-long advocacy for female empowerment on its head. To cap it off, her Mrs. Carter world tour (perhaps, by the time you read this, supplemented by a new album) has just commenced.
And yet, despite her cultural ubiquity and knack for instigating controversy—Did she fake the pregnancy? Did she get a nose job? Is she a member of the Illuminati?—Beyoncé has never seemed less present in our lives. One problem is that we know too much about her; the more we see of her, the less we can project onto her. Another problem is that we know too little about her. Her contradictions don’t hint at hidden depths—they just negate each other, until nothing’s left but Beyoncé Knowles, ruler of a very tiny empire. Population: 1.