The 60th Annual Grammy Awards were just okay. Many of the people who deserved Grammys, like SZA and Luis Fonsi for “Despacito,” didn’t get them. And per usual, women of colour saved the night: Rihanna hitting the gwara gwara and Cardi B. adding a burst of colour to the ceremony while performing “Finesse” with Bruno Mars were definitely bright spots. However, the highlight of the night was arguably Blue Ivy Carter sitting front row with her parents, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The 6-year-old, who is not yet too cool to hang out with her parents, is no stranger to front rows, music videos, or fancy outings. In fact, her presence at these events has helped catapult her into her own brand of fame — one that is fueled by a narrative that is almost completely made up by fans.
As former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello passionately introduced U2 at Sunday night’s Grammys — sharing her personal narrative about being a Cuban-American immigrant, the audience offered their supportive applause — Jay and Bey included. But a camera caught a clip of little Blue raising and slowly lowering her hands to both parents individually; essentially signalling them to “keep it down.” And the internet went wild. Blue Ivy was trending on Twitter almost immediately afterward, and the interpretations of why she would possibly be telling her parents to "chill out" started to spread.
Theory 1: She’s a Fifth Harmony fan.
Theory 2: She's woke.
Theory 3: She’s simply too accustomed to excellence.
It’s simply the nature of the internet in 2018 to assign random connections and meanings to things that would be uneventful or insignificant in real life. A crying baby can suddenly represent how we feel about showing up to work on Mondays. A burning trash receptacle is the GIF we use when describing an ex-lover or Donald Trump. In an unofficial capacity, Blue Ivy has become an unlikely spokesperson for Black excellence, wealth, and authority. The Grammys were not the first time people have invested in this narrative. One of my friends, a PhD, has “follower of blue ivy carter” in her Twitter bio. Popular podcaster and vlogger Kid Fury frequently posits that Blue Ivy operates as a managerial figure to Beyoncé. And when she was spotted on a balcony in New Orleans last year, the internet took it upon themselves to refashion Blue as actual royalty, looking down at a crowd of peasants.
Creating stories about the kind of person they think Blue Ivy is also the full time job of some social media accounts. Blue’s Black Book is a parody account on Instagram that boasts over 40,000 followers. The captions on its posts — mostly including Blue Ivy, but also random pop culture content as well — create a fictional version of the 6-year-old that is superior to everyone else, including her parents, and more than a little shady about it. Twitter account, @blueivyreactions, takes a similar approach, imaging Blue as a self-sufficient entity, with grown-up feelings about her own life and the world around her.
The real question, though, is: why? Sure, Blue has already been featured and credited as a songwriter on two Grammy-nominated albums, an impressive feat for someone fresh out of kindergarten. But to really understand how the big sister to twins Sir and Rumi Carter became the most fascinating member of the Carter clan, you have to look at her parents.
The Carters are notoriously private about their personal lives. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are tight lipped about even minor details of their lives (Beyoncé still won’t even reveal her Snapchat identity). We’ve only seen one official photo of Sir and Rumi, and let us never forget that Beyoncé released an album with absolutely no promotion in 2013. The fact that the public gets to see Blue at all feels like a rarity, despite how often it occurs.
It’s also worth noting that the Carters are living definitions of Black excellence in every sense of the word. They embody wealth, success, and philanthropy. So Blue — the natural product of their union — has inherited a legacy so exceptional that it almost warrants her life having its own fabled storyline. Furthermore, her actual behaviour seems to reflect that. All things considered, Blue appears to be a well-behaved child. Even when her face betrays boredom or disinterest, she is in formation. There are no tantrums or tears. She sings and dances when appropriate. She’s silent when it’s called for. She even says the right thing at the right time. When Beyoncé won the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award at the 2014 VMAs, Blue said “good job.” It is precisely Blue’s niceness that has led the internet to construct her as unbothered, uninterested, and unapologetic about all of it. What we project onto her is a reflection of our aspirations. A level of achievement and waft of self-satisfaction that we can’t afford to live out in the real world
Another photo, one of Beyoncé holding some of Blue’s snacks and a juicebox, also made the rounds during the Grammys. Here was Bey: the most powerful woman in music, an icon, and one half of a billion-dollar power couple dressed in a Black Panther inspired getup, reduced to snack holder for a kid. And that part is no fantasy. Beyoncé is still a mom, and that comes with getting crumbs on your dress sometimes. Cost be damned. The same is true about about the real nature of Blue Ivy. She’s a child. And children everywhere say and do the darndest things. A few months ago my 7-year-old niece told her parents (my sister and her husband) that they were putting “too much pressure on her” because they asked her to hurry up getting ready for bed. It’s likely that Blue was shushing her parents at the Grammys. Not because she’s the unlikely matriarch of their household, but because she was mimicking a movement and cue that she’s probably seen a bunch of times.
Which brings me to my favourite thing about Blue. No matter who her parents are and how much of the world they can access to offer to her, she’s still just a normal kid. And I hope that we all remember that.