Coffee Rhetoric: The Persecution of Ms. Badu

April 02, 2010

The Persecution of Ms. Badu

I don't have cable. The delectable bits of trash I do get to watch are courtesy of my mother's digital cable box, when I have the pleasure of visiting for the weekend.
Ofttimes, I shake my head (while still watching) at the train wrecks colliding on the screen: Young women on "reality tv" jumping into hot tubs... obscured nudity jiggling in the wind or clawing one another's eyes out in a fit of rage as their boobage and delicates burst through the seams of too tight clothing for all the world to see. Thonged asses and commando-ed vaginas (aye-aye captain) flap free amidst the chaos. Not a problem. Ratings booster!
I also love to watch music videos, most of which are par for the course... The grandiose donks  (read: big butts, fake or otherwise) gyrate and twerk in the camera, struggling to stay contained sheathed behind dubiously fitted hot pants... some parts of their bikini-ed bottoms distorted just enough to make it past the network's Standards and Practices department. All of this current comehither lasciviousness notwithstanding, I am reminded of the furor Janet Jackson caused during her performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII when her adorned breast popped out for the briefest of brief moments. After which she found that same dirty pillow branded with a piping, hot scarlet letter. People were not pleased, despite her pleas for forgiveness, regardless of the fact that the media and the very network looking to air her immodesty out at the public square took a blink and you'll miss it moment, slowed it down, and played it repeatedly, despite being offended by the moxie of the act: A tit breaking loose from its harness for the briefest of seconds.
Flash forward a few years since Ms. Jackson's "Nipplegate." We've seemingly evolved even more where the grandeur of the female form in all its voluptuosity,  is par for the course...  considering several petulant nipples, butt-cheeks, and vaginas have cried out in protest since that incident in a united front in public under the glare of public scrutiny, and for pop starlets who are taking a queue fromn the Video Vixen book of trickery... succumbing to re-marketed aesthetics at the suggestion of male record executives and managers... winding their hips and carefully manicured poontangs in nothing more than a skimpy top, taut thighs, and heels in an effort to sell more records. Pants be damned! We've evolved... or perhaps not, since creative mind, beautiful eccentric, keeper of the 'izm that snakes upward like a cobra ... allegedly causing men to swoon, and accomplished musical artist Erykah Badu's new video for her single, 'Window Seat,'  has incited the public to chorus. Erykah cites guerrilla filmmaking as a method, as she methodically walks through downtown Dallas, stripping away layers of clothing until she's completely naked, in the name of art and near the same location JFK was assassinated ... but some naysayers aren't feeling it.
Please get into my argument....
Why is it when a woman (especially a Black woman) takes charge of her image and body, and projects it in a way she sees fit... particularly when it's in the name of art, the public finds it obscene? Lest rappers are asking challenging questions and making demands like "How Low Can You Go?," and  "Gimme that Becky!, or the likes of Hugh Hefner doesn't put you on the cover of Playboy or make you 1/3 of his harem, a woman's body will never be beautiful, unless the rules are dictated by the patriarchy and the media.
I'm still struggling to find the obscenity in Erykah's message and visual: Which essentially, is to break free from societal norms and to formulate your own thought process.
Perhaps if she were stripping within the subtext of Playboy or King Magazine ... bent over in a teeny-weeny bikini... hands placed over bare breast to titillate and cause massive erections for the male populace and/or being violated/beaten/brutalized on film, she wouldn't be facing charges for "public indecency." America seems to be okay with the exploitation and violence shown toward women, but we're damned if we dare have orgasms on-screen (see the documentary 'This Film Is Not Yet Rated'  or express the splendor of our bodies via our own visions, on our own terms, shouted through our own voices.

That is all.
*Perhaps due to its controversy, video links are no longer readily available.