Gossip Cop is a US website which specializes in investigating and also debunking various celebrity news stories and online rumors. Recently, it reported that singer Beyoncé is definitely not interested in making a film about Saartjie Baartman.
She is an African woman who was exhibited across Britain by showman Hendrik Cezar during the period of 1810 to 1814. One of Beyoncé’s representatives told the website that she is not connected to the project but it is a very important story to be told.
The Telegraph discovered the original rumor and it came through a report in The Sun. According to it, Beyoncé was planning to write as well as star in the film. The South African press later picked up this false rumor.
It was reported that Jean Burgess, a South African Chief of the Ghonaqua First Peoples, has raised an objection regarding Beyoncé’s alleged involvement to the project. The report by Gossip Cop further drew attention to the humorous manner in which the story was actually covered by The Sun along with some other publications.
It reveals that Hottentot Venus was the stage name of Saartjie Baartman and she was forced to appear in these carnival shows against her will. A series of crass remarks were made by the British Tabloid and outer outlets, referring to her body shape.
Some of the headlines regarding this development sound like a bit of a joke. Beyoncé is one of the most powerful women in the music industry and she is well known for her curvaceous figure. The report read that she was planning to make a movie about a nineteenth century woman with a large bottom.
Baartman was renamed Hottentot Venus and she was encouraged to show off her non-Caucasian body for the purpose of amusement of white audiences. The size of her buttocks was the key point of the insulting show.
Hottentot was also the name given to members of Baartman’s tribe, known as the Khoi. However, now it is considered to be an offensive name. According to a source, Beyoncé is quite serious about being an actress and she wishes to gain respect by writing a screenplay.
The original rumor was kicked off with the report stating how she wants awards from the movie industry and Baartman’s story could be her ticket to success. However, Baartman’s real story is quite far from funny.
After pressure from abolitionists forced Cezar to defend his show in court, Baartman had a definite chance at freedom. However, a contract between Baartman and Cezar was produced and she admitted that in return for a share of the profits, she was happy to be exhibited.
Sadly, it is unclear whether she was coerced to pretend to be happy rather than being originally happy about it. She might have been miserable but had no other choice to earn her living.
Before her death in 1815 due to an unspecified illness, she took part in similar exhibitions in France as well. George Cuvier, the famous scientist who publicly dissected her body was considered quite heartless in Rachel Holmes 2007 book about Baartman. Her body was later placed on display in Paris.
Meanwhile, Jean Burgess of the Ghonaqua First Peoples was quite disturbed regarding the idea of Beyoncé working in a project involving Saartjie Baartman. He told News24 that Beyoncé lacks the human dignity which is necessary for writing Baartman’s story.
Burgess told News24, “Why Sarah Baartman? Why not a story about an indigenous American woman? I can only see arrogance in her attempt to tell a story that is not hers to tell.”