I'm interested in this news story about Erykah Badu's recent video (here and here). The Dallas recording artist filmed a guerilla-style video, inspired by a Matt and Kim video, where she strips down naked in public (a great interview with Erykah about the video). The song is called "Window Seat" and she shot it at Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was assassinated. Original Matt and Kim video

Erykah Badu's video is available on her site. Although, at the moment, it looks like she re-edited it and reversed the footage. So, now, she's putting her clothes on. That's thoughtful.

This story interests me, because it deals with the question "what is art" and yes, art as free speech. It also deals with the public's comfort level towards nudity. Is nudity always about sex? Is nudity always indecent?

I've re-posted my comments below. I apologize that they are out of context here. However, you can click on the links to fill the gaps.


#1. Direct link to comment

One correction: "Naked, Badu lays face-down on one of the X's in the road"

Actually, Erykah lays face down on the SIDEWALK, next to the X in the road.

I find the X in the road more offensive than Erykah's nude guerilla video (and she didn't put it there). To me, the nudity communicates artistic vulnerability -- and the location is a place where something serious has been turned into cheap entertainment. (Show of hands: How many people go down there to listen to the crazy conspiracy theorists talk?)

I'm biased. I think Dallas is lucky to have Erykah Badu. She is an artistic treasure.

#2. Direct link to comment

Yeah, that curb you see is the curb from the sidewalk to the grassy hill, not the curb before the street. She is definitely on the sidewalk -- walking where everyone else is walking. I've been there a few times. You can compare with this photo:

Street vs. sidewalk. I do think it's an important distinction, because if she was lying naked in the middle of the street? That would depict her as being a little more "out there." She's bold, but I don't think she's crazy.

Re: Scott Doyle. I agree that not all nudity is art. Me taking a shower in the morning = not art. And yes, some art is for shock value. However, Erykah Badu was clearly putting together a performance piece for her music with artistic intent. You might disagree, but it doesn't change her intent.

#3 Direct link to comment

Re: Sarah, most welcome. And thank you!

So, the news team took the music video to Dealey Plaza to show people and get reactions of outrage? It's the TV news equivalent of... well... a comments section on a website except edited, selective, and pre-arranged for production. That segment is pretty weak. Pegasus News > TV News. At least, we're having a discussion.

Re: Scott Doyle. If we're asking the question "is it art?" then I'm saying that intent is a huge part of it. Not the only criteria, but certainly a huge part of it.


4. No direct link available (sorry)

"forced her nudity on children"

Oh geez. Blowing this out of proportion? The article said no witnesses came forward to complain. I think the children are safe. I also think little kids are less offended by nudity than some of the adults in this comments section (and you didn't see it either), but just knowing that nudity exists... it must upset you. She wasn't having sex on the grassy knoll. She wasn't running around naked and saying "boo" to all the pedestrians. It was a few seconds, and she was gone. Let's get some perspective: Your kids have possibly seen more nudity on the home computer (the one you're posting from) than they will ever see in downtown Dallas. I doubt her actions will lead to naked hippies roaming in packs through the streets.

Isn't the ideal to live somewhere that maximizes individual liberty and minimizes government intervention? And "liberty" means you may have to tolerate your wacky neighbor and her bouts of artistic expression. Just like we tolerate you and your choices.

Your thoughts? Is this artistic expression or a publicity stunt?