Singer Erykah Badu is making waves with her newly-released album, New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh.
A blog battle has broken out—on our staff! We're talking about the new Erykah Badu music video.
Here's the short version of the back story: Erykah decided to film a video in connection with her song "Window Seat" and to do it "guerilla style," with one camera in one take, in Dealey Plaza where JFK was murdered. And, on the course of it, she strips naked. She tweeted about the experience, saying she knew there were children nearby but hopes they were not "traumatized" by the experience....
Needless to say we've asked Erykah to come on and talk about this but as of right now she is declining. We had reached out to her some time ago in anticipation of the new album, but, we did not know about this video. Hey, maybe she didn't either. Anyway, it's no for now.
But what about all this?
Our folks do not agree.
And then there's this interesting take from our friends at TheRoot.com, written by Natalie Hopkinson.
And here's a perspective from one of our own, Tell Me More producer Jasmine Garsd:
I think the issue here is that she's chilling naked in a non-sexual way. People are so used to seeing over-sexualized, exploited women on TV so people freak out when they see a woman just naked, relaxing, with cellulite, some tummy (she looks great though) — ESPECIALLY a woman of color. You are supposed to be writhing next to 50 Cent all oiled up. You are supposed to be oversexed, having Nelly swipe a credit card in your butt. You are not supposed to just be naked, walking. It's too humanizing. And even if you are not a woman of color, you are supposed to be Britney writhing half naked with a snake promising you are a virgin. How is this any less sexual than Beyonce's new video with Gaga, or any rap video? If anything, it's less exploitative.
Apparently, a number of our colleagues think Jas has lost it. (I don't!)
(Also, read this post by TMM producer Teshima Walker.)
Is this important?
I think it is. If you buy the notion that culture matters, then it matters.
If you want my take:
Publications like Playboy magazine and that ilk are always telling us how "empowering" it is for women to get naked. But if that's so, then why does the first thing prison guards do is take away the prisoner's clothes? Do the directors ever film the segments naked — since it's so empowering?
Just asking ...