After this weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, the Television Academy has a new swarm of enemies. Yes, the Beyhive is out for blood after Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé lost out in all six categories it was nominated in this year.
Homecoming, which was released on Netflix in April, is a concert documentary capturing the lead-up to Beyoncé’s breathtaking 2018 Coachella performance. The film offers viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the singer’s creative process, combined with spectacular footage from the concert. At the Emmys ceremony on Saturday, Beyoncé lost the directing honor to Springsteen on Broadway, production design for a variety special to Rent, outstanding writing to Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, music direction to Fosse/Verdon, and costume design to RuPaul’s Drag Race. Fans were particularly incensed, however, that the concert film lost to James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke in the Outstanding Variety Special category.
Twitter users were quick to point out how much effort and planning went into Homecoming. One tweet, which has more than 100,000 likes, shows a video of cameramen navigating bleacher-like stairs and weaving between magenta-leotard-clad backup dancers to capture Queen Bey’s complicated choreography. The accompanying comment read, “james cordens carpool karaoke just won best technical direction….a camera taped to a windshield just won an emmy over this.” (While the name of the category was listed incorrectly in the tweet, many others also focused on the seeming disparities in technical production between the two programs.)
Though Beyoncé herself has not commented on the losses, her team is not afraid to let the world (and the Academy) know how they really feel. The megastar’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, bid Emmys weekend farewell with a cheeky Instagram video of herself and several other team members flipping off the camera. On Sunday, Homecoming videographer Ben Hagarty weighed in on the backlash. He took to Twitter to share a three-second video from the film of a reunited Destiny’s Child stomping in sync in matching glittery camouflage outfits.
Hagarty noted the intense technical difficulty of the production process. “I held a heavy ass camera and walked backwards keeping these 3 legends in frame while dave held a carabiner on my pants to guide me,” he wrote. “Oh and I did it going down a set of stairs. RT if you would give us an Emmy at least.” In a thread, he explained that he and another crew member had to establish a system to signal when the stage would turn so he wouldn’t fall off the runway while walking backwards.
When Homecoming premiered early this year to glowing reviews, it was celebrated as an astonishing tribute to the legacy of black music and the culture of HBCUs. Beyoncé was joined onstage by an ensemble of steppers, dancers, and a marching band. Quotes from black artists and leaders punctuated concert footage. Crucially, the April 2018 Coachella performance marked the first time a black woman headlined the famous festival. The long-overdue set was so incredible that fans, at the urging of DJ Khaled, rebranded the Indio influencer-fest as “Beychella” in the weeks that followed.
As such, some saw the lack of recognition for the documentary in all of the categories as an example of media industry sexism and racism. “This is deeper than Beyoncé losing the award,” one person wrote on Twitter. “It’s really telling how misogynistic and racist these people are.” Another user wrote, “Beyoncé losing all 6 Emmy’s for Homecoming and all 4 Emmy’s for Lemonade makes me realize that as a black person, as a black woman even if you work 10 times harder, or delivered 10 times better you still won’t get the recognition you deserve.” Back in 2016, the music icon’s visual album Lemonade lost the Outstanding Variety Special category to—you guessed it—James Corden’s The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special.
Nobody is denying that Carpool Karaoke is an original, delightful guilty pleasure that has provided us with pop culture gems like Cardi B serenading a Los Angeles senior center, Adele belting along to the Spice Girls, and Michelle Obama duetting with Missy Elliott. The Emmy-winning Paul McCartney episode was entertaining and often moving—particularly, I imagine, for devoted Beatles fans. “The segment is probably one of the most extraordinary interviews with Paul McCartney ever done,” wrote The Daily Beast’s Tom Sykes, “combining poignant reflections on his life growing up in Liverpool with Corden and McCartney belting out classic tunes.”
But, considering the technical achievement of Homecoming, which brought one of the most epic live performances of the century into peoples’ living rooms, the cultural significance of the Beychella set, and the sheer star power of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, the loss certainly qualifies as an upset. As Taylor Hosking wrote for Vice, “It's unbelievable that she lost to James Corden doing anything, even if a Beatle was involved. The Beatles may have been more popular than Jesus, but now, Beyoncé is more popular than the Beatles.”