Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Tactless Erykah Badu gets naked at JFK death site

posted by Rod Dreher

Well, this is probably the most interesting thing to happen at Dealey Plaza since 1963: in her new video (see it here — thanks to the magic of pixilation, it’s safe for work), singer Erykah Badu takes all her clothes off and fakes being shot in the head on the very spot where JFK had his brains blown out.
Utterly, completely, nauseatingly tasteless. What will she do for her second single off the new album? Go to the balcony where MLK was shot and do the hoochie-koochie in her underwear?
I will say that it was a great surprise to me to visit Dealey Plaza for the first time and to observe how this infamous place was so … banal. I don’t know what I expected, really, but I expected more than an ugly intersection. It’s not even a plaza! The Grassy Knoll is just a small hill. The melodrama of Dealey Plaza loomed far greater in my imagination than in real life, as it turned out. Hard to think that the history of this nation, and in turn of the world, changed at that dull spot in the road. That, I think, has a lot to do with why JFK conspiracy theories thrive. We can’t deal easily with the fact that something so consequential can happen in such a nondescript place.



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Saint Andeol

posted March 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm


it strikes me as a little arrogant and presumptuous for her to try to connect herself with such an historically significant event like this. at least when Marylin Manson did it he wasn’t walking naked down the street in view of children.
also, “hoochie-koochie” sounds so delightfully old-timey. That whole sentence made me laugh.



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David J. White

posted March 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm


I watched it yesterday, and I blush to admit that I felt cheated by the pixillation. When a video is promoted to me as one where a singer gets nekked, then, doggone it, I want to see *nekked*! ;-)
I still can’t figure out what her stripping was supposed to signify. I found myself wondering whether the whole scene — including the passersby and people in the background — was staged. I mean, most of the people in the background seem to be acting awfully nonchalant about a woman stripping for a camera in broad daylight right in front of them!
Having said all that, I had the same reaction on my first visit to Dealey Plaza that you did, Rod. The place just looks so … small.



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renfro

posted March 31, 2010 at 3:58 pm


this is arguably the most trivial thing you’ve ever posted, Rod … come on



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Chuck Bloom

posted March 31, 2010 at 4:25 pm


Forget Ms. Badu; go to the second point. Dealey Plaza needs to be part of the National Park Service and preserved as what it is – a scene of major history (good or bad) in the U.S.
There is precedent for such preservation – Manzanar in the desert of California is part of the Park Service and it tells the tale of one of our less noble stories (the forced interment of Japanese-Americans during WWII)…along with other sites.
As it stands, it is as non-descript as it gets. However, each time I pass the Book Depository and head out to Stemmons Freeway on Commerce, I STILL get the chills and always look up to the sixth floor.
Sadly, along with the NFL team, THIS is what defines Dallas, Texas more than anything else in the world.



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S

posted March 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm


“What will she do for her second single off the new album? Go to the balcony where MLK was shot and do the hoochie-koochie in her underwear?”
if a white singer ever did do that in a video, black people would call it racist.



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Lauren

posted March 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm


Obviously none of you understand the video…nor have any of you ever been to Dallas. Then end.



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John E - Agn Stoic

posted March 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm


Sadly, along with the NFL team, THIS is what defines Dallas, Texas more than anything else in the world.
Also that gawdawful TV show…



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Rod Dreher

posted March 31, 2010 at 5:10 pm


Um, Lauren, I just moved from Dallas, having lived there for seven years.



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Richard

posted March 31, 2010 at 6:00 pm


It’s not just tactless, it’s banal and insufferably self-centered.



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David J. White

posted March 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Obviously none of you understand the video…nor have any of you ever been to Dallas. Then end.
I assume your comment was meant to be ironic, Lauren, since it was clear from Rod’s post and my previous comment that our respective reactions to Dealey Plaza were prompted by our having actually been there and seen it.
As for it being obvious that I don’t understand the video … well, Duh!
I remember an epiphany I had when in graduate school years ago. Whenever I read an academic journal article that didn’t seem to make sense, I used to attribute it to my lack of knowledge and experience in the field — that I just didn’t know enough yet to be able to follow the article. I remember one day when I was reading an article that didn’t seem to make sense, and I realize that, doggone it, I did know enough about the topic of the article and that the reason the article didn’t seem to make sense is because it really didn’t make sense.
Sometimes if something that’s supposed to be “edgy” doesn’t make sense to the rest of us, it’s not just because we’re a bunch of benighted philistines. Sometimes it really doesn’t make sense, and is nothing but the artistic equivalent of self-gratification on the part of the, um, artist.



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MH

posted March 31, 2010 at 7:23 pm


One of the benefits of being completely disconnected from pop culture is having no idea who this person is, or know anyway to see the product of her labor.



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www.thenoireffect.com

posted March 31, 2010 at 7:31 pm


It’s apparent that the nudity in the video is not the real issue here. Through history there have been tons of nude portraits that have been lauded by society as some of the greatest works of art ever. Ms. Badu’s video has a message if one would delve to look beyond the nudity that has been the big news story of the day. The song itself is about rebirth and freeing oneself and the video is the visual aid in that.
Ms. Badu is not doing anything vulgar in the video, and last I checked nudity in and of itself is not perverse nor vulgar. We come into the world naked so what’s the big deal? What I have seen however is a rush to judgment to make an example of Ms. Badu which is definitely unfair. Madonna before Badu has appeared nude in several mediums even making a book titled SEX and appearing in a video where she’s walking down a public road hitchhiking nude.
So seek to understand before begging to be understood. Ms. Badu is an artist, no different than Michaelangelo, and open to the critique of the masses but still remaining true to their works. I believe there’s an undertone of hate involved in the people who are calling for Ms. Badu’s head for making this video. Again find out what the message is of something before critiquing, it will only leave you looking like a fool.



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Ostrea

posted March 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm


Ms. Badu does not have the body to run around naked in public. The piece should be re-done. Ms. Badu can sing the background tune and Sienna Milller can parade around naked. That, I would enjoy.



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Zoetius

posted March 31, 2010 at 7:56 pm


I liked the video. I thought she had a fairly strong point about groupthink that has been reinforced by the popular response to the video.
Her video seemed, at least to me, a reaction to the current political melee.



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Your Name

posted March 31, 2010 at 9:10 pm


There are so many red flags related to the JFK assassination including President Johnson ordering the crime scene limousine destroyed and Johnson ordering thousands of investigation files secret for 75 years among many others too numerous to list here. We forget that 1963 was a different time and place and the government took liberties it would have difficulty taking today.



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J

posted March 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm


I’m not really into pop culture but since I live in Dallas am familiar with EB. She’s actually quite talented. Artists are supposed to push the envelope. Sometimes they go too far. It’s not like she incited violence for pete’s sake.



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Christian Louboutin Pumps

posted March 31, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Christian Louboutin Pump has draw many women crazy. He expanded the fame of self-shoe – making designer with his own personality charm, and can be absolutely named the most famous shoe making master among those living in this era. From the Jordan’s Queen to Hollywood stars, the royal family and nobles to the fashion people, all women feel crazy when they own a pair of “Red Pumps”! A piece of red stepped on the feet, seduce a man’s sight, a woman’s desire so that Christian Louboutin flushes for twenty years.



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bd_rucker

posted March 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm


>>Ms. Badu does not have the body to run around naked in public. The piece should be re-done. Ms. Badu can sing the background tune and Sienna Milller can parade around naked. [Note from Rod: I agree, she’s a stunner, and I also like her voice. Julie saw her once at the Whole Foods in our part of Dallas, shopping while barefoot. She’d walked across the gross parking lot with no shoes on. But there she was, stunningly beautiful, making groceries. — RD]



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Cecelia

posted March 31, 2010 at 11:16 pm


interesting the traffic some posts get
I think this is a good example of why people need to understand limits.
Dealey Plaza is the site of the assassination of a President – for those who were alive at the time it was a day – actually several weeks – of deep sadness, trauma, and anxiety. To use the sight of this event for a pop music video was insensitive – sure she had the freedom to do it – but she also should have had some common sense and respect not to mention some sensitivity to those who lived thru those days. Freedom needs be tempered with a sense of what is appropriate.
I appreciate that for those whose lives are dominated by pop stars that she is a huge figure and this song/video some great statement. But she is just a pop star selling Cd’s and using the death of a President and the trauma of that event to create controversy so she can sell a CD. What a jerk.



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Lord Karth

posted March 31, 2010 at 11:45 pm


A rather nondescript and average-looking young woman walks down the street, taking her clothes off one piece at a time.
She winds up in the nude, and still not horribly attractive. She then pretends to have been shot, and then we hear her voice delivering what is intended to be a very abstracted and philosophical statement about fearing and killing what is different.
I don’t get it. I watched it three times, and I still don’t get it.
The only thing “on display”, besides this creature’s body, is her ego and the banality thereof.
Who cares ?
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Lord Karth

posted March 31, 2010 at 11:48 pm


Also, she’s just not that good a singer. For whatever my opinion is worth.
I still don’t get why she had this video shot at the JFK assassination site. If it’s a political statement, it’s a very murky and (relatively) incomprehensible one.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Peter

posted March 31, 2010 at 11:52 pm


Erykah says that she discussed the video idea in advance with her three children. And with their fathers, as in plural.



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Magnus

posted April 1, 2010 at 2:36 am


Love your writing, and interesting posts as always, Rod. How are you? Long time no see! Hope you are well this Lenten season! I’d be honored if you visit my blog, at http://www.servantofprayer.wordpress.com. God bless ~



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AC

posted April 1, 2010 at 7:39 am


Perhaps I am a little biased… but every since I’ve listened to her first album (’97s Baduizm) Erykah Badu is a Goddess and musically can do no wrong.



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aaron

posted April 1, 2010 at 9:12 am


I remember an epiphany I had when in graduate school years ago. Whenever I read an academic journal article that didn’t seem to make sense, I used to attribute it to my lack of knowledge and experience in the field — that I just didn’t know enough yet to be able to follow the article. I remember one day when I was reading an article that didn’t seem to make sense, and I realize that, doggone it, I did know enough about the topic of the article and that the reason the article didn’t seem to make sense is because it really didn’t make sense.
Google Alan Sokal, hilarity will ensue, which explains my adversion as a hard sciences/mathematics major, to all the fluffy liberal ed, we-are-the-world crap requirements which were over a third of the hours I had to take for an undergrad degree.



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MH - branded as a scientismist

posted April 1, 2010 at 10:10 am


aaron, be careful or the liberal arts majors will brand you a scientismist for your



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Grumpy Old Man

posted April 1, 2010 at 10:11 am


BFD. QED.



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David J. White

posted April 1, 2010 at 11:24 am


Julie saw her once at the Whole Foods in our part of Dallas, shopping while barefoot.
Rod, are you saying that Whole Foods in Dallas doesn’t have the customary prohibition against entering barefoot, that pretty much every other public place has? Or do you think they were reluctant to compel her to obey the same public health regulations that every one else has to follow, because she’s a “celebrity”?
That just killed any desire I might have had to shop at Whole Foods. Ew.
***
and last I checked nudity in and of itself is not perverse nor vulgar.
No, but public nudity is presumably illegal in Dallas.



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Brett R.

posted April 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm


Can’t say much for the video, but the song is groovy. I think she’s a heckuva singer.



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Freefree

posted April 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm


I dont think it was no tasteless than lady gag ga covered in blood at the awards



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bd_rucker

posted April 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm


>>Julie saw her once at the Whole Foods in our part of Dallas, shopping while barefoot. She’d walked across the gross parking lot with no shoes on. But there she was, stunningly beautiful, making groceries<<
I’m not surprised to hear this. She’s the original black hippie earth mama, does her concerts barefoot, lights incense sticks on stage. To me she’s like an updated version of Yoko Ono, part pop singer, part performance artist. Some people think she’s brilliant, others are like “meh.” I was a bit put off by her image when she first came out but her music eventually won me over.



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Max Schadenfreude

posted April 2, 2010 at 1:34 am


So, when is Eminem gonna strip and pretend to be shot at the Lorraine Motel?



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Evan Hurst

posted April 3, 2010 at 1:55 am


To any who are saying that Badu is not a good singer, I can only respond: You’ve never really listened.
Then again, a lot of people think Taylor Swift is a good singer, so if any criticizing Badu as an artist simultaneously like Taylor Swift, I’ll just back away slowly.
As to the video:
A. People need to lighten up about the nudity, because my god. The faux-prudishness of American society is pathetic sometimes. Women are completely objectified on the covers of Maxim and similar magazines, made up to look completely unreal, and yet the sight of a woman who doesn’t conform in the nude bothers you?
B. People need to lighten up about the scene of the video. The fact that a particular work by a particular artist doesn’t speak to you shouldn’t be a problem, since such is the essence of art. In its best incarnations, art is often subsersive, draws the viewer/listener into deeper rumination, and might occasionally make one uncomfortable. That merely means that it’s good art. It doesn’t call for a freak-out. Similarly, yes, a president was shot there, but a lot of gruesome things have happened in a lot of places in American history. Should those locales all be off limit to artists, and if so, will you lead the charge to burn every one of those godawful single-tear bald eagles superimposed over the pre 9/11 skyline, because I swear to god there is not ONE New Yorker who thinks those things are cute.



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