02/20/2013 12:45 pm ET

Let Beyoncé Be Perfect

The early verdict on Beyoncé's Life Is But a Dream could have been written before the documentary even aired: It's glossy and aspirational, but too perfect; it teaches us nothing. Beyoncé remains a cipher. As New York Magazine's Nitsuh Abebe wrote in his review, this "is a criticism one hears of Beyoncé qua pop star, that she is flawless in an empty, dutiful way. That beneath the warrior-queen performances and public togetherness, there lies a robot." Life Is But a Dream is nothing but an exercise in public togetherness; even the webcam confessionals and a tender speech about her miscarriage can't hide the obvious calculation behind the self-directed film. This is Beyoncé propaganda, a 90-minute self-paean to a pop star whose name is synonymous with control. What's interesting — interesting enough that Beyoncé feels the need to address it in her own hagiography — is that "control" has become a bad word.

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