I cannot express strongly enough how disturbed I am by the entire Erykah Badu/Flaming Lips debacle. Everything that led to it, the video itself and all of the resulting aftermath are all so viscerally exploitative that I physically ache for her. And whether or not you are a fan of her music, if you call yourself a person of feminist, anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal identification, then you need to be on her side with this. Unapologetically, loudly on her side.
For those that are not aware, this is the Cliff Note’s version of the incident:
I. Erykah and The Flaming Lips collaborate on a song called The First Time (a very very shitty song. That’s not relevant. I just needed to note how bad the song is.) Erykah notes that she felt uncomfy while recording the song
“I Should have followed my first mind back in studio when recording the vocals “your way”.
( Red flag.) It was uncomfortable.”
II. Wayne Conye/The Flaming Lips sent her a concept with imagery that she liked as ideas for the video.
III. The day of the video he asks her to do things she is unwilling to do. She invites her sister, Nayrok, whom she states is “more liberal” than she is to do the scenes she is unwilling to do. It is EXTREMELY important to note that Nayrok looks tremendously like Erykah. From skin tone, to body frame to facial features.
IV. The video is released without Erykah nor Nayrok’s approval. Here’s a link. Fair warning it is very, very disturbing. It’s “playing around” with violent and sexualized images of them both.
And one of the key factors (to me) is Nayrok’s similarities to Erykah. He couldn’t get Erykah to do certain scenes so he used Nayrok in a way that makes you think she is Erykah. “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll get what I want one way or another” (Not a direct quote. I’m speaking to the mindset behind that kind of behavior.)
The response to this has rivaled that disgusting ass video. The victim blaming involved… I just can’t.
If you watch that video and think it is in any way connected/comparable to the Window Seat video, you are brain dead.
If you think the issue is nudity, in and of itself, you are a prudish, repressed idiot.
If you think the “argument” that “well she was nude before, so I don’t get the problem here” makes sense, you need to be deprogrammed.
Nudity is not the issue here. And the fact that Wayne Conye has tweeted shit like "You can’t see but I’m actually holding a gun to her head making her look at the camera" And "she didn’t know we, six white dudes with lights and cameras, were there. While she played in a tub of semen we secretly filmed it.." shows what we’re dealing with here. This is victim-blaming, manipulative, racist patriarchy to the core. I need to repeat nudity is NOT the issue here. The issue is he breached a contract and used gratuitous images (nudity for the sake of nudity, sparsed with violent imagery, and what I believe to be racist fixations on Nayrok’s ass, a la Hottentot Venus) that she and Nayrok were not comfortable with. He clearly wanted to create a buzz with this odd rape fantasy-esque video (To be clear, there are no rape acts in the video. But when you mix violent images [the “blood”, the make up appearing to be a bruised eye] with sexualized images [self-explanatory] in any form, I view that as rape imagery. Especially since, again, it is edited for you to think Erykah and Nayrok are the same person). And he achieved that much.
And trying to reframe it as a nudity issue is not fooling those of us with critical thinking minds who haven’t bought into the sexist “she asked for it” mentality. FUCK YOU for trying to make us think otherwise. And double fuck you for that rape imagery you planted in the minds of all of us watching this whole ordeal unfold. This is how you rectify the issues? Not by addressing the issue head on. Not by apologizing for misusing her image and violating her. Instead, you basically say “why were you wearing that dress if you didn’t wanna fuck?”
Those of us watching need to be real about what it is that is happening. Full disclosure: I am a fan of hers (I’m completely confident that Mama’s Gun is better than anything The Flaming Lips ever dreamed about creating). But this occurrence is not about her as a person nor her music. It’s about manipulation, misogyny and racism. There is no grey area here. There is clear right and wrong. Be on the right side of this.
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