I dont know how much you keep up with pop culture but I try to maintain a balance of detachment myself. Because I find that so much of the pop “news” is dribble that does not enhance my life, grow my mind or touch my heart. So I avoid it. But every once in a while something happens that actually does something to me. And this is one such instance.
The Flaming Lips did a song featuring Erykah Badu called First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. I had never heard it until the video was released. I follow Ms. Badu on twitter because she is awesome (Ok let’s be clear I am an Erykah fan but this will not affect this post). I saw her tweeting a lot and retweeting a lot of tweets and I wondered what it was all about. I then remembered that some had folks had tweeted that Erykah had lost her mind because of some crazy video but I still had not watched it. Again, being a fan I respect her artistry and just thought these people didnt get her. But then I read this:
For those that dont like to click or read lol, the highlights are, “You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery( by way of vid text messages) . I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days” and “Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated. ” So not wanting to be biased I checked out his Twitter. He released this photo and said:
After reading that I was like What Happened!!?!? And I just knew I had to see this video even though people were describing it as graphic, perverse and disturbing. So I watched at work because I was too scared to watch it before bed because I am a self-proclaimed scaredy cat.
I waited until everyone in the office was gone and I watched it.
I am posting a link to the video here BUT
THE VIDEO IS GRAPHIC! WATCH AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!
(Just copy and paste the link in a new tab because its acting up right now) http://perezhilton.com/tv/Flaming_Lips_Ft_Erykah_Badu_First_Time_I_Ever_Saw_Your_Face_NSFW/?id=01c9503174b06&autoplay=false
For those of you that watched, it was intense right? Some were calling it beautiful others were calling it soft porn. I remain conflicted. I believe that a woman’s body is beautiful; the softness, the form, the strength. Its all very balanced and beautiful. But as Americans we are taught that nudity always equals erotic, which it doesnt. Why cant we look at a nude human body and see it as we see a butterfly or a hummingbird, just truly in awe of another creature’s aesthetic appeal. And as a Black woman I am even more confounded because my body has been turned into so many things by so many people; Sexual, Menial, Unattractive, Mysterious. What am I supposed to be and what am I supposed to do?
This is a question of art vs. porn and sexual fetish vs sexual freedom. And thats what makes Ms. Badu so unique and so important in this conversation. Not too long ago I read a statement that Ms. Badu wrote in response to people calling her all kinds of ridiculous names because she has three children by three different men. In a nutshell she replied that she is raising strong, respectful human beings, that she loved each man she conceived a child with and that she’s fine. In other words, Mind Yours! I respected her so much because who are these people to tell her how to use her body and how to raise her children. This all goes back to freedom of choice and sexual freedom.
I also went down an internet rabbit hole (you know where you click one link on lolcats and 5 hours later you are on a site about illegal prostitution) and I came across a Tumblr called F*** Yeah, Feminists! and they were criticizing another Tumblr because its “fetishizes” women of color. So I checked out the blog and I was wondering if there was something wrong with me because I found the images beautiful. Yes some of the women were nude but it was tasteful and the women were so beautiful. And these are photos they either took, posed for or posted so they must have wanted them to be seen. Was I missing something I asked myself.
So I ask where is that line between being fetishes and sexual freedoms? What if I make a sexual choice and someone else makes it their fetish? Should that even matter to me? If I find me in my nudeness glorious but someone else makes it dirty whose to blame? Should I even care?
Yes, that’s the ultimate question. Should I even care?