On Monday, March 29, 2010, singer Erykah Badu exposed her bottom, the Nation’s agenda of self-sabotage and sexual hypocrisy in her new music video for “Window Seat,” the opening single for her latest album New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh.In the video, Badu is walking in public slowly stripping away layers of clothing until she is naked, then shot in the head. The footage was taped on the same Dallas, TX street where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Her overall message was that individuality was being eliminated by one another. We are all bound to conformity, and fear things that we don’t understand. Therefore, we must shed the layers of insecurities from ourselves in order to grow.
Badu herself indicated that she expected controversy and backlash. Hence, as the days have gone by, it seems that her curvaceous nakedness is getting more attention than the political and social symbolism of the Kennedy assassination. The taboo that’s attached to nudity in today’s music imagery is what’s at the heart of the controversy. Before anyone relegates Badu to just another female artist trying to salaciously attract attention to sell records, please consider the following:
Nudity does not cheapen the integrity of the artists. Some singers, actors and filmmakers have used nudity in a shallow fashion that depreciates it to the consumer. We live in a cynical world where anything that’s questionably provocative is subject to negative analysis and dismissed as shock for shock’s sake. Ever since the infamous Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl incident, any and all occurrences in which the female form is exposed in a nude or semi-nude setting, it’s perceived to be nothing more than a publicity stunt or pseudo pornography. Outrage also stems from the sexual repression of our American culture.
Due to the presence of AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and such, safe sex is being crusaded against by those who push abstinence – noble, but unrealistic – which lead to deviant sexual lashing out.
One aspect that must be addressed is the contradictory connotations of the use of nudity in popular culture. While video’s for Britney Spear’s “Womanizer” video and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” are examples of how nudity is used scandalously, the public reaction to these videos do not compare with that of “Window Seat.” The only explanation that could be made – without playing the race card, is that an effort is being made to get attention taken away from the political overtones of the Kennedy association, which is incredibly incendiary. The self-inflicted sexual objectification practiced by the likes of Spears and Lady Gaga is seen as harmless. However, when compared to Badu’s imagery that has potential to intellectually stimulate consumers, why diminish the depth of the video and the song for that matter?
The human body is a work of art. It's a miracle no matter if you’re spiritually or scientifically inclined. Nudity does not go hand in hand with sex anymore than sex does with love (but that’s a whole difference discussion I’ve save for later). In scripture, it says that mankind was created in God’s image, thus such an image should be subject to shame. So we should take Ms. Badu’s advice and not be “quick to assassination what [we] do not understand.” Sweeping indictments must give way to progressive thinking and not always taking things at face value. And so, one more time: Nudity does not cheapen the integrity of the artists; some artists have diluted the beauty of nudity.
By: Matthew C. Allen