They say more money means more problems, and if that's true, Beyoncé should have enough problems for Scrooge McDuck to swim through.
The latest lawsuit to land on Queen B's lemonade stand is from independent film-maker Matthew Fulks, who claims Beyoncé copied his short film, Palinoia, when she made her short film for Lemonade, offering up nine examples of when he believes he was copied, three of which are below.
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They also say where there's smoke there's fire, and it that's true, Beyoncé will soon be able to open up her own BBQ spot. Other indie filmakers accused Beyoncé of taking footage of their New Orleans documentary for her "Formation" video, for their part Beyoncé's reps claim that footage was licensed and cleared, another said she copied her "Hold Up" video from them, and over the years multiple choreographers have claimed she lifted their dances and images for her own videos.
The knee jerk reaction is to look at these artists as opportunists merely looking to cash in at the World Bank of Beyoncé, and frankly that was my initial reaction as well. Sure, there are some visual similarities, but art is also about inspiration, influence and also coincidence. I've personally been accused of stealing an idea I absolutely know I didn't, and seen others obviously steal my ideas. There are only so many images in the world, it's not just possible but completely reasonable for two artists to come up with similar ideas. Even if Fulks' claims had some added credibility since he was communicating with one of Beyoncé's video producers in the months leading up to the Lemonade video, the kind of artistic theft that would merit a lawsuit felt like a stretch of Armstrong proportions.
But for a moment let's give Fulks, and others, the benefit of the doubt and put ourselves in their artistic shoes. Unlike Beyoncé, or any other superstar artist, they're pouring their heart and souls into making their art with relatively little financial reward. These are the artists maxing out credit cards to bring their visions to life, living on ramen and dreams of making it big, constantly fighting off that voice of self-doubt telling them to quit, that they're alone in believing their art has real value.
And then they receive the ultimate validation, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet using their work to nearly universal acclaim, only their name is nowhere to be found. Regardless of whether or not it's actually just a coincidence or misunderstanding, even if Beyoncé and her massive team came up with that idea completely independently of you, it's got to be a crushing feeling to watch millions love something you recognize your work in without receiving any of that love yourself. In my experience it's that feeling of your work going unacknowledged, not financial lust, or not just financial lust, that truly drives these kind of lawsuits.
When you think someone's stolen your lemons, how can you even make lemonade?
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.