Erykah Badu's new 'Window Seat' video stirs controversy: Is the JFK imagery offensive?

erykah-baduImage Credit: Kenneth CappelloWhat’s the most controversial part of Erykah Badu’s new “Window Seat” video? If you asked me yesterday, I would have said the public nudity for sure. According to a story in today’s Dallas Morning News, though, some city residents are more offended by the video’s allusions to the death of President John F. Kennedy. Badu filmed her one-take striptease in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza, the place where JFK was assassinated in November 1963. The video’s fuzzy, slowed-down cinematography directly references the Zapruder film of that event. At the song’s end — SPOILER ALERT – Badu’s bare stroll is cut short by a sudden gunshot that appears to kill her instantly.

In interviews and on Twitter, Badu has suggested that she was trying to make a point about how social conformity punishes those who transgress its rules — for instance, by removing all their clothing on a crowded street. Or by re-enacting one of the most infamous moments in U.S. history for a music video. The Dallas Morning News quotes one local activist as saying, “I don’t understand how someone who lives here, who is a resident of this city, could do such a thing.” (Badu lives in Dallas.) “It’s in poor taste and poor judgment, in my opinion,” adds another city leader quoted in the story. Then again, the Dallas City Council’s Angela Hunt told the Morning News that the debate over Badu’s video is “a trivial issue that comes at a time when the city is facing so many more important issues.” Badu hasn’t explicitly addressed the JFK issue on Twitter, but on Sunday, she had this to say: “one cant oppose #groupthink, its a part of human nature , but only recognize his/her position in the thing and redefine his/herself.” Late last night, she added, “The butt naked truth is powerful America !!!!”

You can watch the “Window Seat” video at erykahbadu.com if you haven’t seen it yet. We’ve reached out to Badu for her thoughts on this controversy. In the meantime, whose side are you on here? Is the video’s JFK theme smart or offensive? Do you even think this is a subject worth arguing over? Sound off in the comments below.


Comments (133 total) Add your comment
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  • claymonster

    meh.
    not worth the hype.

    • darclyte

      Good art should be controversial and have people who love and hate it. While I don’t think that this is a “meh” moment, I do think that people are making more to do about it than they should. Probably the most controversial aspect of it, really, is that there were kids nearby. But the nude body shouldn’t be seen as taboo. And non-conformity shouldn’t be seen bad.

      • renee

        i can understand why some people in dallas would not like this video. i lived in nyc during 9-11 and that would be wound for me. however, i saw the video and read the lyrics before i read about the controversy. i didn’t even realize the jfk association and totally got what badu was saying.

        great video.
        it is funny watching the guy at the beginning run after her picking up her clothes though. lol

      • Bellecat

        Leonardo, Van Gogh, and Pollack just turned over in their grave. Why don’t you study art before making such an idiotic statement.

    • Louis

      I thought the nudity would have been the bugaboo, not the JFK reference. I felt the autopsy scene in “JFK” was far more inflamatory to the late president’s memory, everything after that seems secondary to me. I thought it was just a really cool, stripped down video. Like a great film short, at the end you search for the meaning behind it, and it keeps you thinking. Plus the video did it’s job. I’ve picked up the CD today, I’ve listened to it, and it’s great.

    • Dolly Pond

      Completely off topic, but can we ban the word ‘meh’
      And Erykah is such an ARTIST it makes my eyeballs scream.

    • lisa

      darclyte i am with you on that. I truely believe that people are making a big thing out of nothing. there have been plenty of people before Eryka that have been nude in other states. Parents allow their kids see shows like, Family Guy that blantently show sex, violence and whatever GOD knows. So, whats the big idea about Eryka walking NUDE!!!!!!

  • Danya

    Marilyn Manson did the same thing. The assassination itself was almost half a century ago. Who cares.

    • charlotte

      Gross.

    • 132

      I know. People keep mentioning JFK as if his assassination is an open wound for Americans although it happened decades ago. It’s ridiculous!

    • Lola

      I completely agree. And what about the MLK assasination that was almost half a century ago too and the RFK assasination, who cares? If nobody tweeted about it, what’s the point?

      • Kevin

        It’s true… news didn’t exist prior to Twitter. Jesus didn’t Twitter, so I have no interest. Now Jesse James checking into rehab… THAT’S a news story!

  • narddog

    I’m on the “show me the unblurred version” side

    • Chente

      lets hope its sold with the cd, cuz im on my way to buy it now.

  • skiiboski

    I was kinda bummed at how out of shape she is. She’s got some jelly rolls!

    • Bernice

      Out of shape? are u kidding me? You must like women that are stick figures. I loved her body. I wish I had her ass.

      • whatevs

        The fact that you don’t recognize an out of shape body when you see one is exactly what’s wrong with this country. Having tone doesn’t necessarily mean stick figure, in fact, it would be hard to have both.

      • _

        go be jaded somewhere else, whatevs.

      • whatevs

        No.

      • TW

        As a booty connoisseur, I was quite surprised to see she was walking around with such a magnificient ass.

    • sky

      on another interview she stated that she was currently breastfeeding so she just had a baby. I think she looks really good for just having a kid..and why should it matter that she doesnt look the way society wants us to look. she looks great to me and its the message that really matters!! this was the very point of her video! stripping herself of the superficial layers!

  • JACK HART

    erykak badu is a soul artist that doesnt fit in 2 the new pop box that is promoted on this and other sites. she’s a soul/r&b artist with vision and more talent than the lady gagas, miley cyrus types that are promoted on this site.

    • sutherngurl

      Ah Erykah, I’m definitley going to get this album immediatly, I already have New Amerykah part I, and it was amazing. As far as the “controversy”, people need to get the stick out of their butts. Let her express herself. Listen to the message at the end of the song and you can clearly see how those who seek to undermine change by fear-mongering are the true enemy to Americans and all that we hold dear

    • mm

      I remember when Badu made news for her musical talent rather than the faux shock value of pathetic stunts like this.

      • Fatima

        Why is this a pathetic stunt? Music videos are a part of music now (and for the last 3 decades) and she chose to make one that actually had a statement behind it and some intelligence. Most good art is controversial. If she was truly going for shock value or pure attention, she could have done something a whole lot dumber and less abstract. Pathetic is not what I would call this.

      • whatevs

        Who made the claim that good art is controversial? It can only be good if it starts fights?

        It is pathetic because she’s not trying to do “good art” as much as she’s trying to start something, which is irritating.

      • Fatima

        Controversial does not automatically imply violence or sex. Controversial means it divides people and gets them talking. I’ve followed Badu’s career long enough to know she’s not about cheap publicity. Whether you care to admit it or not, she is trying to make a statement about a topic she’s been exploring for quite some time. Not everyone has to like it, but give her enough credit to admit it’s not brainless.

  • Patty Woods

    Um? Obviously her publicity stunt has worked for her.

  • luk

    Booty OUT THE WINDOW! Kurrrrr POW!

  • luk

    Oh– and there is much more to this brilliant work of art than it being a “stunt”…. She dropped the naked truth on the spot that broke America’s back in November of 1963.

  • willie r

    I commend her for the message it sends. The transportation of the message is not important. If you don’t understand this you’re missing some major learning in your life….simple!

  • luk

    Anyone who thinks the assassination of an America president is a “who cares” or no big deal for the mere passage of time is so ignorant that they should be treated to free drinks all day at the bar of their choice on election day. Have fun, stay all day! It’s a booby prize, but there’s not sense in hiding it.

    (Let the boring people take the time and trouble to think things through steer the bus for those big decisions, Homer!)

  • Antar Khan

    I see why Andre 3000 and Common went crazy…she has some meat hidden back there!

  • snippy

    Quite frankly JFK was one of the worst presidents in US history. I for one am glad he was assassinated as are most of the people I know. It’s about time someone publicly slandarizes his very existence and relishes in his death.

    • Aprilcot26

      Harsh much? Regardless on how you felt about him as president, “relishing” in someone’s death is just evil. And it makes you look pathetic.

    • erf

      STFU!!!

  • DeeGee

    I don’t think she looks bad at all…for those who are hating!…it’s so many women that would kill to have a body like that…!!

    • ~ ~

      Maybe if you spend a little more time running and doing cardio and less time surfing and eating, you’d have a chunky bod like her.

      • Donna

        @eyebrows – that’s just mean.

      • 132

        Unless you’re going to post a picture of your perfect (based on societal and health standards) body, STFU about how Erykah Badu’s body looks!

    • TWHT

      They’d kill to have a body like that, but apparently they won’t put down the hohos and get off their fat asses.

  • ZsaZsa

    Great publicity stunt! Way to go Erykah!

    But the song was beautiful without, the “outside the box” video…

    • ZsaZsa

      And her body is rocking, women are paying THOUSANDS to get a natural back side like that! My husband and his friends think “its a beautiful thing”… lol

  • Kamasutra

    I like her b/c she is different & all of her songs has a point. And for a black women that has kids her body looks great.

    • Why

      So, would her body look great or not for a white woman that has kids?

      • Moét

        Why…Why was I thinking the same thing?? What does that have to do with being a BLACK woman. and I thought womEn was plural, how do you put the word “a” (singular) in front of the word “women” (plural) FOH

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