Bad bad Badu

By now I suppose everybody on the planet has seen or heard about, what am I saying? ….has definitely seen the latest Erykah Badu video for her song Window Seat. For those of you trying to keep up the charade, let me help you out here. Basically, she takes a stroll through downtown Houston, her stroll mirroring the path JFK took on that fateful day. Every few steps, she “puts on” a piece of her birthday suit. The video ends with her in “full regalia” simulating being shot and blue blood issues from the wound forming the word “groupthink”. Deep fuh so…..

As expected in any situation with similar circumstances there has been a lot of fuss made over the video’s apparent lack of taste. Ms. Badu claims gross misinterpretration, some people say it was just plain gross. Ms. Badu says artistic expression, the Houston police say disorderly conduct…..$500.00. Since I can’t help being a little cynical sometimes, I must say she didn’t get a bad deal. $500 definitely could not buy all the prime time coverage (well there actually was no coverage in the true sense of the word, but you get my meaning) she’s had over the week or so. Whether that was the reason or not, this video and the publicity it garnered, certainly added to Ms. Badu’s bottom line (I mean that in a financial sense….really).

As tempting as it is though for me to jump on one bandwagon or the other, I am not going to. I can see both sides of the argument. I agree with the sentiment that the video represents the artistic expression of a music icon. Many people seem to hold this view. In fact, I was listening to one of those morning call in shows, and the number of people who called and were throwing around words like, art, artistic expression and message was staggering. Equally staggering, though, was the number of people who, when asked what the video was about, could only respond with words like…, artistic expression and message. I really can’t blame them though; it is often very hard to decipher artistic expression with any real level of conviction. Even Erykah herself can’t seem to explain what the whole thing was about.

For the cynics among us, and I do not count myself in that group, many people seem to think it was a thinly disguised (very thinly disguised) publicity stunt, simply geared toward selling more albums. I could see this perspective too. In fact, the album made it to #4 on Billboard 200, with 110,000 copies sold in the first week. It is very possible and even likely that the video helped with that. But when you consider the fact that her last album did even better in the first week (#2 and 124,000 copies) without the nudity,maybe she should have kept her clothes on. I’m just saying.

The video has even spawned discussions about the exploitation of women, with one radio DJ taking the interesting position that if the Badu video was not exploitation, then neither should videos of artists like Lil Wayne and Ludacris be considered exploitation of women. Hmmmm…you’re on your own there dude. As talented as those guys are (and nobody can dispute this), they do leave us wanting more in the whole respect for women category (my humble opinion). Mr. DJ…….methinks you should just play your music and let not your mind be troubled by things of this sort.

All in all, I do not see this impacting Erykah Badu in a negative way. By that same token it does not seem to have increased her popularity any (not that she needs it). I actually like the song. The video I will most likely never see again, because I do not have much use for music videos in general. It is sometimes fun to see how an artist interprets his/her music through videos, but if I never see another music video again, it’s no big deal. I do appreciate Erykah Badu’s creativity, but I also think a more responsible approach was called for. Creative genius does not somehow give you the right to impose that “creativity” on others. Of course the furor (if indeed there is one)will blow over, as the next “thing” takes hold of our attention. Erykah Badu in the meantime…….well I’m sure she will just turn the other cheek.


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