Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The best part of Erykah Badu's slow motion video streak to her new single Window Seat, is all of the fearful, look-straight-ahead, shock in the stiffened bystanders who are watching her strip in broad day light. It still confounds me that we are so uptight about human bodies--about their nudity and about their sexuality--that we clutch our chest and gasp at the sight of one. With all of the hijinks and stunts pop culture's seedier side serves up, getting naked on tv is nothing new, but walking strong among crowds as a black woman with your thick ass all out and out, your tattoos blazing, and your shaved head held high, is a statement. In fact, in Badu's version of this statement, it is so radical that it can't possibly exist without invoking a violent end.

The lyrics Badu sings, in their needy honesty (I need you to want me/ I need your attention/ I want you to need me) are vulnerable and in high contrast to her romp&stomp. Yet the vulnerability and the desperation of the act of stripping down in public somehow fit so well. The video says you are a body, you are alone in skin, but you need others. Isn't that the human condition? Something about shedding clothing makes that message so clear. From hiding under a trench and a hoodie to blazing naked. From separate and wanting attention to standing out and getting it. Evolving awkwardly through risk. Badu, this is badass.

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