Appraisal of Beyoncé Knowles as a popular artist: Analysing the evaluative discourse of the online fan base
This research uses the Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) approach, more specifically, the appraisal theory to analyse the online message postings by fans of the popular music artist, Beyoncé Knowles. Through their online writings, insight into their evaluative discourses is gained. This research focuses on the emotional, judgemental and evaluative stance in their writings, especially; the linguistic choices that the online fans use in order to convey their attitudes: appreciation and judgement and affect towards Knowles. In order to do such an analysis, the study considers the different Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) levels of meaning (interpersonal, textual and experiential metafunctions). Several questions become pertinent: What kinds of interpersonal relations and identities are implicated on the message boards? (Interpersonal metafunction). How are these expressed textually? (Textual metafunction). What kinds of experiences/fields are implicated in the messages? (Experiential metafunction). The research concludes that in terms of identity, fans tend to latch onto a Hip-Hop culture in order to create and maintain a connection to Knowles. Fans display this linguistically by writing certain words out phonetically as they would be pronounced orally. Gender boundaries are transgressed irrespective of the fans' gender. Posts also demonstrate colourful expressive responses in relation to Knowles. Whether the fan is male or female, both feel comfortable in using emotive language to demonstrate the impact which she has on their lives. In terms of appreciation fans tend to express that she has inspired and changed their lives. Attitudes explored demonstrated that a number of Knowles' fans hold positive viewpoints and therefore they would align themselves positively towards her. The element of judgement was explored from different perspectives in relation to Knowles. One, being a website which suggested that Knowles had undergone an evil transformation. For evidence, these fans used her lyrics, gestures and images selectively as a way to "prove" their arguments. As a contribution to knowledge, this research is useful in the sense that when individuals log online and leave their posts on message boards, they do not always realise the impact of the message that they leave behind. Using SFL and the appraisal theory, one is able to establish the attitudes: judgements, appreciation and affect individuals hold towards a particular topic or person (in this case towards Knowles). Through linguistically analysing message boards, one is able to connect individuals to possible identity options. In essence, the letters and words which individuals have strung together create a greater picture than what was possibly intended. Linguistically, it opens more avenues for exploration.