March 30, 2010

Category: Grooves

Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” Video

05_Flatbed_2 - MARCH
Late Saturday night while waiting for Erykah Badu, who’s known as @fatbellybella on Twitter, to hit the stage at Good Units, I began tweeting and looking for updates. There were a flurry of messages about her new video for “Window Seat.” Vulnerable. Intimate. Provocative. Butt-naked were tweeted and retweeted. I gotta admit the butt-naked part threw me off. Was the video a mile-high romp with her baby daddy, Jaye Electronica, all while sitting in her window seat? I had to know. On Sunday I watched the video with a friend. Her first reaction: “Why did she have to get naked?” Stunned, my response was why not? I thought she was making a point. If you haven’t seen the video here’s the lowdown (via

With an explicit nod to Matt and Kim’s “Lesson Learned” video– in which the duo strip in the middle of Times Square — Badu sheds her clothing while walking through downtown Dallas in her clip. Almost as soon as she is totally nude, Badu is shot in the head, falling near the same grassy knoll (Dealey Plaza in Dallas) near where President Kennedy was shot in 1963. Instead of blood, animated words that spell out “groupthink” leak from her head on the sidewalk. Then Erykah in voiceover says: “They who play it safe, are quick to assassinate what they don’t understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel more comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become, afraid to respect the individual.”


Watching the video I immediately thought of judgment and how quickly we project our assumptions onto people based on what they wear, how they walk, etc. Emerging from her white caddy in a Black Burberry trench and shades, Erykah looks like she’s flossin on some discreet celebrity ish. Then she takes off her coat and shades and she’s in a purple hoody, seemingly on some hiphop, thug tip. With each layer removed the assumptions can and do change. Who is this woman? Is she cool? Is she a thug? Is she a slut? By the time Erykah is sashaying in her drawers, folk wondering is she crazy? She is evolving and so are our perceptions of her. Fact: We are quick to judge. We are quick to classify and box someone, esp women, with a label. In the video I saw her as liberating herself of judgment, of inauthenticity and of those labels. It’s bold and brave. I know clothing, or should I say the need to be in style, can be oppressive. As a child, my mom would make most of my pants. My friends teased me: “Homemade high-waters.” This was the beginning of my group think assassination. One summer I didn’t have the cool, name-brand sneakers my daycamp buddies sported, so they taunted me about my skips singing, “Skip, skip, skip to my lou.” Groupthink again. Janelle Monae finds uniforms an equalizer and Badu sees freedom in her birthday suit. But nudity is a touchy subject on these here American shores. It’s disgraceful, nasty, pornographic and definitely not ladylike, which is funny cuz we are born naked, we bathe in the nude, we make love & bring forth life naked. All of these beautiful, essential acts are done without clothing. In parts of Africa, Central and South America it is nothing to see women walk around topless. It is natural. Beauty. Here it is hedonistic. X-Rated. I found it interesting that Badu’s exposed booty didn’t cause much of a ruckus there at the grassy knoll. Probably says more about media’s damaging effect on our nervous system and how dulled our senses have become to erratic behavior, nudity and public antics especially when a camera is in tow. Erykah Badu butt-naked in a music video! The Black body as a site of resistance! The Black female body as entertainment– as objectified pleasure! Is Badu just another jiggling Black as$? By the time the dust settles on this video, yeah probably. But she is in control of her strut, of her own spectacle and of her body in a way that I also think is defiant and evolutionary. My friend Greg said, “Free your mind and your assassination will follow.” I concur.

At the same time I ain’t no dummy. I know Erykah is about to drop a new record and Baduizm is in the air. First it was headwraps and incense, then it was the big-afro and now it’s blurred-out booty. This is also an ingenious maneuver to sell more records. No doubt. Controversy equals more press, more exposure and therefore a better Billboard charting. D’Angelo did it in 2000 with his video for “Untitled, How Does It Feel.” I am acutely aware of how the concept of artistic expression undermines and how it legitimizes. My girl and I talked about this mural and she felt it promoted stereotypes. I argued that it was art and above such negative proponents. Now I see how the term “artistic expression” validates and even elevates. Honestly it’s hard for me to think of art as disparaging. I just see it as an attempt to press buttons, which I think is good. Sharpens those dulled senses. Anyway I’ve said a lot. Too much. Tell me what you think. I need to know!

Check the video below (remember it contains nudity):

Tags: , , , ,

14 Responses to “Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” VideoComment RSS feed

  • Aissata
    March 30th, 2010 10:31 pm

    I love this video! I think it’s beautiful, bold and artistic. Bravo Erykah… respect!

  • Delphine
    March 30th, 2010 10:50 pm

    I agree with you 100 percent! This is truly an artistic piece. Love it!

  • Monique Martin
    March 30th, 2010 11:12 pm

    Yes, the vedio is shocking in it’s provacative nudity in broad daylight. The folks on the street seemed uncharacteristically calm. Were they planted?

    After witnessing a brutal beat down of a Nigerian young women and her boyfriend on 8th Ave & 122nd St in Harlem last Friday night by a gang of female teenagers; young 14, 15. She was on vacation, not even living here. I have to say the gang culture, the moving in pack culture is live and in effect in the ‘hood. What I witnessed was savage, the lowest expression of humanity. And, it was African American youth randomly terrorizing a couple who were vunerable; arguing.

    What I took away from the vedio was the importance of critical thinking and humane self governance. Lastly, her body is banging and I would rather see it in that forum than XXL!

  • Anita Bryant
    March 31st, 2010 6:35 am

    I always respect anyone who keeps you talking and guessing. Ms Badu
    has always been able to do that with each project. Hey no one is talking about Lady Gaga video – she was nude as well.

  • Rebecca Walker
    March 31st, 2010 8:48 am

    nice piece mis hotness. x

  • Sweetilocks
    March 31st, 2010 1:23 pm

    I agree with you all the way. It’s amazing how no one says anything about all the video chicks who strip for rappers on a regular basis. But when a woman owns the rights to her own nudity and exposure and chooses to show it, she’s somehow disturbing others. Americans are some of the biggest hypocrites when it comes to sexuality and body image. We spend billions on porn and yet we can’t take a woman walking naked down the street! Grow up people! I think she absolutely liberated herself. What’s worse is people are saying she desecrated the memory of JFK by shooting the video at that site. Any excuse to call black people racist will do, I guess, lol. Thanx for the enlightenment Ms. Hotness!

  • Bilqis
    March 31st, 2010 1:31 pm

    I loved it. Ms. Badu has been constantly evolving and finding her way musically and personally and I’m feelin it. I don’t always get her but I respect her journey and if she needed to get butt ass naked to continue on her path then so be it. And she looked good doing it!!

  • theHotness Grrrl
    March 31st, 2010 5:35 pm

    @Monique: Your story of that sister being mobbed and beat came to mind when I started thinking about groupthink. Between the tea parties and their racist responses to health reform, Sarah Palin and general gang violence, groupthink is alive and well.

    The following quote by Erykah Badu in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News:
    Were you afraid of the immediate reactions from folks?
    Yes. I was petrified, period. The whole thing was frightening. The whole idea was frightening. Not being in love with my body, not being secure about being vulnerable, the police coming to take me to jail. I’m breastfeeding right now. Anything I could think of, I did. But those little things diminished as I thought about the big picture. And, as I started to walk, I confronted a lot of fears, and I hoped that it would encourage others to do the same thing in their own way.

    This is an interesting comment that Erykah retweeted:
    @Choc0lateKiss @fatbellybella now half the “groupthinking” fools all are groupthinking into believing this was more than selling a record or for attention!

  • theHotness Grrrl
    March 31st, 2010 5:37 pm

    And oh yes, thanks for all of your responses!!! When you blog its like writing in the dark. Grateful to hear so many insightful views from so many!

  • Sun
    March 31st, 2010 5:48 pm

    It was a really good point that you made about Erykah stripping away her layers of clothing/identity and what each layer evokes. I’m still a little ambivalent about this video (I dug the nudity but really resented the trivializing violent act at the video’s end)

    Girrrrrl, I must say that this video had my mind veering between two extremes of “manipulative! there she goes sellin that ass for publicity” and “god, what courage! such a timely statement she’s making”

    And then I thought back to a summer day a few years back when I lay topless on a beach for the very first time. Chile, my heart was pitter-pattering like a go-go beat in my chest at first! I worried about some lecherous passerby leering at me a sexual object, or some random person looking at me disapprovingly.

    But then came to me a profound revelation.. “so the fuck WHAT? It’s HIGH time to challenge those shaming inner voices, tell those suckers to quiet down. This is MY body, this is MY experience inside of it. The fear gave way to a powerful sensation that I was returning ownership of my body to myself. And my boobs were really thankful for the warm sunshine!

    I still question her intentions a little but I think that the video worked its intended magic. Good essay lady! Thanks for the brain food!

  • Shawn P
    March 31st, 2010 8:07 pm

    Great post. My first guy reaction was that I loved the video. Like you said, “why not.” I’m tired of the typical and I applaud Erykah for stepping out. It was a great publicity stunt that worked!

  • R. Cole
    April 1st, 2010 2:36 pm

    I think its interesting that people who liked the video are focused on the nudity and people who didn’t seem to like the video are focused on nudity. Group Think seems to be an afterthought. I don’t know how I feel about the video yet–I have a hard time separating the artist from the individual; should they be separate entities? I don’t know Badu personally-so I suppose that is unfair.

    There are times in the video when Badu looks around before removing her clothing…she appears to be somewhat considerate of a mother and her child in the vicinity…she also runs once she is “liberated” then drops to the ground. Why run if that is who you are, why fear? Aah to feel liberated I guess the process of evolving from Group Think to individual. Badu is definately an artist lyrically/musically, she is conscious so awesome but is the video artistic replicating the assassination of JFK? Does the nudity make it artistic or is it to much of the focal point and taking away from the message? Why does someone so conscious and artistic have three different baby daddys–that is very judgmental of me, it could be for a very good reason; I like that Badu makes me non-judgmental it can happen to anyone. Badu makes me think–see varying perspectives but remain steady with my third eye open. (I digress). I think I have to say that I like the video but Erykah Badu, the artist didn’t need to get naked to enforce her artistic expression of individualism and spread it or did she? I would have gotten the point if she had stopped at her drawers and jumped into some water–the nudity de-emphasizes the more important message of the song, “One should be themselves, there is already one of everyone else” (Oscar Wilde) The irony of Badu is mind boggling and so I think I like the video to a point just because of its effect that’s Baduism.

  • Fanon Wilkins
    April 1st, 2010 6:35 pm

    Wow what a wonderful piece. I think that families and friends should get naked, watch this video, discuss it for 9 hours in a cypher, and post their insights on every social network on the internet. I love the way she sampled the Matt and Kim joint and chopped it up to her liking. The JFK piece was just brilliant. I mean how else do you appeal to the liberalism of CNN and rep your hometown at the same time:) Interesting how her blood remained blue even after it was exposed to oxygen. Hmmmmm? So much to say, so little time at the moment. Bravo to the Hotness Grrrl for putting it down once again. Let’s be more fearless and evolve. One.

  • A. Carter
    April 6th, 2010 8:22 pm

    @ Anita Bryant: actually the Lady Gaga was attacked for her video, by the “Culture Campaign” (lol @ the very name…) take a look:

    and here is a lil of my thoughts on Badu, much in line with most of you on this page:

    if anything i feel her video has been a great help in creating a discussion about these issues, of when IS it the right time to bare yrself, be naked aka VULNERABLE in public, hmmm…How bout NOW. And also is the body really that disgusting and gross as people have commented on here? This is a matter of opinion and i’ll leave aesthetics to the individual, but I think the pont gets missed when we get tunnel vision on the fact that she is naked, SHE IS MAKING A PONT! A STRONG ENOUGH POINT WHERE SHE PERSONALLY HAD TO GET NAKED TO GET IT ACROSS, ALMOST LIKE PEOPLE HAD TO MARCH WHEN THEY WHERE NOT GETTING THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS. Now you might say that is no comparison, but please spare me yr rebuttal and first talk to a REAL ARTIST/SPIRITUAL (me being an artist myself) in regards to what happens when you feel the spirit/creative force and what you HAVE to do with that energy, before it turns into dark energy/ destructive…

    A question to all of those who said “but wasnt she did against the law…” -WHEN HAS SOMETHING BEING AGAINST THE LAW EVER STOP A REVOLUTION…discuss.