The cost of Erykah Badu's public-nudity stunt through the streets of Dallas now has a number on it: $500 and six months probation. The Grammy award-winning R&B singer reached a plea deal settling a citation for disorderly conduct, according to a Dallas city official. The stunt was for a music video promoting her single Window Seat. In it, Badu removes her clothes as she strolls through the same block in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. At the end of the video, Badu lurches back in pain, as if shot, and falls to the pavement where purple goo seeps out of her skull. After onlookers complained to the police, she was charged. Did the punishment meet the crime? Who walks away looking better, Badu or Dallas officials?
It Wasn't Supposed to Be Like This, tweeted Badu at the height of the controversy: "I would never disrespect JFK. his revolutionary thinking is my inspiration. my performance art has been grossly misinterpreted by many." In an interview with the LA Times she added, "So I did expect some kinda dialogue about it. That's the point of performance art. There is going to be some kinda dialogue. I didn't think it would become this ...well, yes, I did (laughs). I predicted what would happen. It became clearer and clearer as I shed layers. The next step is assassination of character. That's exactly what happened."
There's One Reason People Watched Her Video--And It's Not About Her Message, writes Madison Gray at Time: "Badu (née Erica Wright) has been known for pushing the artistic edges since the 1997 release of her first album, Baduizm. This video, which she claims was 'shot guerrilla-style,' was to be a 'protest' against 'groupthink' and about 'liberating yourself,' she says. But after her disorderly-conduct charge for being naked in public, it was about why 1.7 million people downloaded the video from YouTube: to see the Grammy winner's nicely shaped butt cheeks."
Badu Wins in the End, demonstrates Ernie Smith at Short Form Blog:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.