Starfire holding film in space drawn by George Perez. Image: DC.

Beyoncé’s “Alien Superstar” Inspires More Starfire Art & I’m 100% Here For it

The category is ... "Tamaran Royalty."

Beyoncé’s seventh studio album Renaissance has been put through the wringer since its full release. While, on the one hand, it’s been hailed as a momentous ode to the Black queer communities’ influence on music and fashion through dance and ballroom culture, it’s not been without controversy. This includes the inclusion of an ableist slur (thankfully now removed) and crediting issues that stem from Pharrell’s grip on Kelis’ song rights (now removed, but unlikely to come back as Kelis tread too close to that Bey & Satan joke). Sprinkled between all the news, there’s one song peaking through my timeline, and it’s the love for track three, Alien Superstar. A song that is now referenced alongside a very popular DCEU Teen Titan.

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The confidence in this song (even referencing Right Say Fred’s hit I’m Too Sexy) and declaration of self love has resulted in fan cams of many magical girl transformations (like Sailor Moon). While Starfire does not (always) transform like a sailor scout or power ranger, she does have that glow and power that perfectly embodies this song.

https://twitter.com/gyarumirko/status/1554500570198704128?s=20&t=22xhRZmahKhL12uJfrgutA

Some drawings of her have even fused together elements of Renaissance‘s fashion.

This sharing of art has also resulted in fan cams showing Starfire footage from Teen Titans, Titans, Teen Titans GO!, and a number of movies. Unfortunately, a lot of them are being taken down by the label, at least on Twitter. There are also a lot of Black cosplayers and body paint artists taking on Starfire while invoking Alien Superstar. Even D Monae J, who loves to cosplay as Blackfire, pulled out one of her many Starfire looks to rock to this song on TikTok.

Not Blackfire, Black Starfire

From Zenon to the many women and femmes in leadership positions from the stories of Star Trek and Star Wars, there are a lot of women characters in space to reference for a song like this. These are just the live-action ones! However, I think Starfire came to mind because of her longstanding role as a Black-coded spacewoman and undeniable regalness. Her Blackness has been a point of contention since Anna Diop was cast to play her for Titans. Alongside visual cues, her story history of being formerly enslaved (before escaping to Earth), exploited, and sexualized (both on and off the page) mirrors a colonial history and the present.

While some (including creator Geroge Pérez) have stated that they took inspiration from elsewhere, other artists like Rags Morales (when writing for the early ’00s’ Infinity Crisis) stated they took inspiration from legendary model Naomi Campbell. Starfire and her younger brother (Ryand’r) have been drawn with locs over the decades, too. Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, the non-Black continue to be influenced by Black culture/art (this goes beyond the ’80s) that likes Black aesthetics/art but not Black people. We see this in the thicker hair and fuller lips from even Pérez’s design.

This comes back full circle to Queen B’s album, which seeks to thank and uplift the Black queer community even as wider pop culture forgot their names and erased the community context that created our favorite looks and phrases.

(via Twitter, image: DC Comics)

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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.