In the ever-changing world of celebrity, few names are as synonymous around the world as ‘The Beckhams’. Pioneered by David and Victoria Beckham, from the football field to the catwalk, this power couple has seamlessly transitioned through the various stages of their careers, negotiating crisis management and the rise of social media with ease.
Unless you’ve unsubscribed from all your streaming services, you’ll have seen the Beckhams opened the doors to their private life. In Netflix’s original documentary, ‘Beckham’, we’re offered unique glimpses into the world of a power couple. When it comes to building brands, how the public perceives a brand and its ambassadors relies on the way they present themselves, and the way the media frames them.
With popcorn at the ready, digital consultant Jack Press and Senior Account Manager Luke Randle delved into the documentary to explore how David and Victoria are framed individually and as a couple, comparing it to the media’s historical depiction of the British power couple and how brand Beckham has evolved.
David Beckham: Changing the narrative from villain to hero
The documentary takes us on a journey through the life of David Beckham, showcasing not only his athletic prowess but also his evolution into a global style icon, philanthropist, and businessman. It carefully paints a picture of a Beckham who isn’t known just for his right foot, but for his generosity and gentle nature.
The film captures the essence of David’s multifaceted personality, shedding light on his journey from the streets of Leytonstone to the football pitches of Old Trafford and Santiago Bernabéu, to the boardroom of Inter Miami. We witness the trials and tribulations he faced as a public personality, framed first as a villain following that moment against Argentina in 1998 and second as a hero for that top-bins free-kick against Greece to send England to the 2002 World Cup.
The documentary carefully selects key strands of his narrative, but isn’t afraid to address some of the more scandalous details of his life — in fact, you might say it embraces these elements to highlight how the man, supported by Victoria and his family, crisis-managed their way back to the top.
Victoria Beckham: How to break the media mould
Victoria Beckham — or if you’re a 90s kid like some of us, “Posh Spice” — has undergone a remarkable transformation in the public eye. Yet, the documentary makes a conscious effort to redefine her narrative, highlighting her successful career as a fashion designer, entrepreneur, and mother. Contrary to her ongoing tabloid portrayal of a reserved, moody, and distant Victoria, the film presents a more nuanced and relatable side of the fashion icon.
It accentuates her dynamism, highlighting her prowess not just in design but also in navigating the complexities of motherhood and business. Supported by their social media accounts, the documentary presents us with a more vulnerable, more human Victoria. There’s a reason that working class scene is now a staple pop culture meme, and we’d be surprised if the Beckham’s didn’t know what they were doing when filming candid scenes like that.
Comparing media portrayals
The British media has historically been a powerful force in shaping public opinion about celebrities, and the Beckhams are no exception. Victoria, in particular, has faced her fair share of scrutiny, with tabloids often emphasising her stoic demeanour. However, the Netflix documentary takes a different approach, humanising Victoria by showcasing her role as a mother, businesswoman, and the challenges she faces in managing her diverse responsibilities, whilst David himself went from hero to zero and then back to hero once again.
The documentary shines a light on the notion that David, albeit down to earth, always wanted a career outside of football. As the public, we’ve gotten used to not just seeing him on the football pitch, but also on billboards, or TV adverts promoting mobile phones, clothing brands, aftershave, and drinks products, to name just a few. In the documentary, David states: “I knew my career was going to end at some point, and I wanted to have a career after football.” And that’s exactly what he continues to showcase. Just look at his landscape-changing negotiation deals to bring Lionel Messi to the USA’s Major League Soccer, securing a major Apple brand partnership for the entire league in the process.
The power of personal narratives
What sets the Netflix documentary apart is its ability to provide a platform for the Beckhams to tell their own story. By sharing intimate moments and personal reflections, the couple takes control of their narrative, steering it away from the sensationalised headlines that often dominate the media landscape.
This approach not only adds authenticity to their story but also allows viewers to connect with the Beckhams on a more personal level. This approach not only injects authenticity into their story but also forges a deeper, more relatable connection between the audience and the Beckhams. It humanises their journey, fostering empathy and understanding amidst the often-intense scrutiny of their public lives.
We’ve had this drip-fed to us outside of the documentary in recent years, too, with Beckham’s wholesome decision to queue with the general public to view the Queen’s coffin. Their social media accounts, too, which share David and Victoria’s pancake-flipping antics, David and Harper’s gardening escapades, or even just wholesome family moments have humanised them away from their celebrity status.
With great fames comes great scrutiny
The Netflix documentary’s refreshing portrayal of David and Victoria Beckham challenges entrenched perceptions perpetuated by the British media. By presenting a more authentic depiction, the film humanises the Beckhams, allowing viewers to glimpse beyond the glamour. As this power couple continues to shape their brand, the documentary stands as a testament to the enduring allure of the Beckham name and the transformative potential of personal narratives in the realm of celebrity. It underscores the crucial role of relatability in shaping public perception and illuminates the intricate balance between fame, scrutiny, and the art of crafting a genuine, resonant brand. However, we must remember the media attention helped them build their brand and turn their name into a lucrative business, so as with great power comes great responsibility, with great fame comes great scrutiny.
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