I wish they offered a class on Beyoncé when I was in university. True, I graduated before Destiny’s Child disbanded, but since the trio’s 1999 album The Writing’s on the Wall the writing was on the wall that Bey would be lionized in academia with 300-level Sociology courses in schools across North America. My term paper would be on “The Duality of Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé”, and I’d be sure to include a photo of Blue Ivy on the Works Cited page—as if any prof who penned a syllabus for this course could resist writing A+ next to that kid’s face.
I am not a pupa in the BeyHive, but at the same time I don’t have a death wish and wouldn’t take the course just to spew contrarian platitudes such as “Bey’s overrated. Why isn’t there a Jay Z class? This is reverse sexism.” (There’s always one in every single class.) However, I am a firm believer that you should take as many dumb electives as you can. The more dubious in educational merit they are the bet- ter, as they’ll help hone your bullshitting skills. These will prove valuable later in life if you ever want to win friends, influence people, or, you know, procure employment that doesn’t make you cry like a decidedly un-fierce also-ran in the shower every Monday morning.
I spent many sleepless nights slaving over essays on Shakespeare. Over a decade removed from school and still no one wants to yak about Hamlet with me—the real tragedy is most people into the performing arts are on life support and in a vegetative state. Dropping knowledge from that mandatory 100-level Stats course never charmed the interviewer for that plum gig I desperately wanted. And then there was a class on the weather. Yes, the weather. Somehow Clouds 101 was deemed essential for obtaining a degree. While my cumulonimbus identifying skills are unfuckwithable, every time I point one out to the person next to me on the bus they end up switching seats.
I should have been studying Mrs. Knowles instead. Bring her up to that same cloud-hating asshole and they’ll be hanging off your every word. Yoncé is all on our collective mouths like liquor.
Don’t fret the inevitable “Yes parents, I am taking a class on Beyoncé and this is a perfectly sane thing to do with the tuition money you’re giving me” conversation. They’ll see the light when you eloquently break down why Kanye is right and she deserves all the Grammys using a third-wave feminist critique. Besides, you can add, Religious Studies is a thing, and the Queen Bee is more popular, influential, and relevant than at least three of the top five major ones.
Nothing about the Cultural Hegemony of Bey, Gentrification and Craft Beer, the Intentional Communication of Ronaldo’s Abs, or Rihanna’s Instagram: Why We Can’t Even on the docket this semester? Doesn’t matter. The scholarly world moves at a glacial pace, and doesn’t recognize genius as quickly as you do. So put a ring on your education, and opine about “The Political Economies of Game of Thrones” (Poli Sci), “Grumpy Cat and the Theatre of the Absurd” (English), “Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and Oedipus” (Psychology), or the “Cultural Appropriation of Twerking” (Sociology). Just be sure to hurl around a few Marxisms like “commodity fetishism” or “means of production” and you’ll do fine regardless of how flimsy your argument is.
“Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?” you ask. Well you can accomplish both when post-secondary educa- tion is in line with your interests. So fill up your tub halfway with dumb electives and ride them with your surfbort over the next four years. That, or you can spend the rest of your life lamenting missing out on that Beyoncé course as you keep a careful eye on the offerings in the Continuing Studies department.
this article was originally published by elective magazine in march 2015.