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An academic analysis of the Solange and Jay Z fight

TMZ, the modern day Bernstein and Woodward, released a shocking video clip on Tuesday. You’ll never believe what it revealed. Seriously, it would be unbelievable if there wasn’t actual footage of it. Solange, yeah Beyonce’s chill sister, goes proper fight club on Jay Z, Beyonce’s husband, in an elevator after the Met Ball. Beyonce stands by with her palms clasped as Hov’s security guard holds Solange’s flailing arms, but she manages to get a few punches and kicks in. No one knows why it happened. But everyone is speculating. So we got DR DAVID KEATLEY, an academic who specialises in social psychology and body language to analyse the incident. 

So what’s the deal with the fight? 

The reports from the night suggest that there was no prior friction or disagreement between the individuals involved (though further analyses would be needed to verify this). Reports of the fight suggest it was unprovoked; however, the body language of Solange as she enters the elevator is of someone who is angry and upset (stride pattern and gait). It is likely that some disagreement or argument had been occurring and Solange was waiting for a moment she considered appropriate (i.e., the confines of an elevator).People are susceptible to ‘catastrophic’ breaks in aggression. That is to say: most people have a ‘flash point’ – the moment at which they lose control and can no longer adequately contain their emotions. Most times, we find a way to expel our energy or frustration, but in some situations, especially when the provocation is close-by (e.g., the confines of an elevator), we direct the aggression towards them. There are myriad examples of this – celebrities having breakdowns, athletes no longer being able to participate in their sport due to stress and exertion.

Why does Beyonce stand to the side?
There are two leading explanations. The first is that the fight was unexpected to escalated so quickly, and she is genuinely caught off-guard and unsure what to do.
The latter, is that the argument has two sides (i.e., Solange had a valid argument); this would leave Beyonce unsure of how to proceed – i.e., whose side to take. Also, in such a vicious outrage and attacks, it’s not surprising most people’s response is to stand back – and let the bodyguards intervene.

Do these kinds of fights (physical or verbal) happen often?

Quite often. There are several reasons for this, and no cause can be claimed to be the most prevalent. However, most siblings are protective of each other and feel at times that our relatives can be ‘blind’ to their partner’s true intentions or behaviour. At this stage, individuals take it upon themselves to intervene and stand-up for their sibling.

Similarly, it may be the case that the sibling and the ‘in-law’ do not get along (and there’s no real need for them to – the sibling does not choose the partner, and may genuinely not have made friends with them were it not for their brother or sister’s relationship). Therefore, it is not unusual for brothers/sisters and partners to not get along. Building a friendship takes time, and sometimes can be forced when the foundation of it stems from relationship to a sibling.

– What is it about this story that has everyone hooked? And what does the interest say about us?

First and foremost – it is a mystery. There is obviously something that has happened to cause this sudden shift in behaviour, and we’re left with no explanation. This is a form of the Zeigarnik Effect – wherein we remember most those activities or stories that are not finished. Television dramas capitalise on this by leaving viewers on cliffhangers. Similarly, we don’t know the full story with this episode, and want to know more. It also appeals to the conspiracy makers – leaving us free to consider our own reasons and causes.
It doesn’t say anything necessarily negative about us – other than we like our stories to have endings, and have a desire to understand why people do what they do. The fact that celebrities are involved appeals to us in that it allows us to draw comparisons and realise that even those we elevate to iconic levels may still act as normal human beings.