Screen shot from the leaked Flaming Lips/Erykah Badu video
Erykah Badu is weird. There. I said it. She’s weird. She’s always been weird. I loved her first CD, Baduizm. Like Lauryn Hill spoke to my every day Suburban brown girlness, Erykah spoke to my college girl, headwrapped weirdness and I loved them both for it. Over the years though, much like Lauryn, Erykah went from someone I could high five over a bowl of vegan chilli to someone I'd probably side-eye from across the room. Her latest controversy is a prime example as to why.
Last week, a Flaming Lips/Erykah Badu collaboration video was unleashed (I mean leaked) onto the interwebs. Knowing what I’ve known of Erykah Badu over the past 15 years, I prepared for weird. What I wasn’t prepared for was the naked ass slapping, glitter bombing, blood soaked jizz extravaganza to which I was treated. Oh boy.
This it turns out is Erykah's sister Nayrock.
The video had me scowling at my computer from the second I hit play and I heard the valium dosed interpretation of Roberta Flack’s classic, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. It was filled of disturbing images of a woman that appeared to be Erykah Badu, butt booty ball naked with glitter, then blood and then a semen-like substance dripping from her body. As it was revealed later, the naked woman was not Badu herself but her younger sister, Nayrock. Is there a such thing as a vag colonic because Nay needs one. I’m pretty sure if she has a baby, that baby will come out covered with more glitter than a drag show.
Plain and simple, the video was disgusting. It got lots of people to talking about the sociological implications of a naked black woman dripping with what appears to be bodily fluids while a number of fully clothed white men bang a drum with rabbit fur. Because yeah. That happened in the video too.
And though I do agree with how disturbing it is for a black woman to be so very literally exploited and if I were in college, I'd write an SAT word riddled paper discussing just that, however, I’m in my 30s now and tired and all I can say is, “That shit was fucking weird.” Don’t get me wrong, I like weird. I like Bjork and all her Icelandic, pixie fairy oddness but this I just don’t get it.
As the video spread most of the reaction was negative. Even die hard Badu fans were confused by it. Their acrobatics in trying to twist some meaning and deepness into something that Erykah would eventually call "meaningless" (more on that later) was on Cirque Du Soliel level. But most who defended her taking it all off in the Window Seat video were not here for glittery bloody vaginas and they let her know!
I found the whole thing amusing and after a few jokes on twitter, I let it go and kept it moving. That is until, everyone involved got all, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies” about the entire debacle.
It started with Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips, tweeting to let Erykah off the hook with her fans and then something implying that you just weren’t cool enough or hip enough to get it. Erykah tweeted compliments on the video and some foolishness about art being “confusing and appealing” and I sat at home and rolled my eyes so hard I could see the future. This is a music video not an exhibit at MOMA.
Days later, after the tide became increasingly negative, the tone of Badu’s tweets began to change. I predicted a retraction of some sort and then Coyne, who also directed the video, tweeted the following:
Wait, what? So we're all just too “conservative” to get his trippy, far out art, man. Dude. Whatever. Your video was weird. I was annoyed by Coyne's assertation that this was an art thing not a taste thing. But then, Ms. Badu, decided to flip the entire script and say she didn’t approve the final edit.
She then went on take Coyne to task (told him to kiss her "glittery ass") and then spent hours (HOURS) tweeting her disapproval of the entire production. Girl, you knew what you were doing! You were there! A few days ago, nobody "got" your "cconfusing" art and now you were exploited? Granted, maybe it didn’t all go down like the two of you planned but the ass slapping? The blood and jizz? The glitter vagina?? That wasn’t CGI. Those were things that happened...
My issue with the video isn’t the nudity. Wait. Yes it is. It was just gross and gratuitous. It was a parade of filth and flesh and nothing tantalizing or provocative.
Erykah has spent the last few DAYS on Twitter, talking to anyone who will read/listen about how angry she is and how she was duped and this that and the third. To quote Shakespeare, "The lady doth protest too damn much." And to quote Jay Z, “I don’t believe you. You need more people.”
Just admit it was a bad decision, you made it, it didn’t go over like you thought it would and keep it moving. Don’t get me wrong, Wayne Coyne is being a sarcastic asshole too but I kind of see his point. He tried to diffuse the situation and rather than letting it go or dropping it, Erykah went on hours-long tirades against him and how she was duped and exploited. Badu, please. It appears like Coyne was willing to take the initial blame but wasn’t willing to get tossed under the bus. Now it’s just ridiculous.
In this twitlonger post, Erykah says that, “(Wayne) did everything wrong from the onset.”
What’s wrong with admitting it was an idea gone bad? Own your shit! I don’t understand this about public figures. You did something that went over like a bloody balloon, say, “Wow. I really thought y’all would dig it. Now that I think about it, I understand why it didn’t go over well. I’m really sorry. I’m going to make some cool art later that should be awesome. Here’s my vegan chilli recipe” Just admit it! All this deny and deny and then the arguing between you and the other guy is just annoying and is making me lose what little respect I had for both artists.
And let’s talk about the real issue here, how is Nayrock going to get all that glitter out of her vadge??