I’m pretty sure that most of you have seen, if not heard of Erykah Badu’s latest video, “Window Seat”. “Window Seat” is the first single from her latest album, “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh”. The video was shot in Dallas, Texas(the birthplace of Badu), in Daley Plaza, which is known as the site where President John F. Kennedy, Jr. was assassinated in 1963. It was shot guerilla-style, in one take. Controversy surrounds the video because Badu stripped down to nothing in broad daylight, in front of complete strangers, including young children. She was fined $500 for disorderly conduct, and is lucky, because the penalty could’ve been much worse. Had police officers been present to witness the act, she could’ve faced up to a year in a jail and a $4,000 fine. When hearing of this, most of her fans became outraged.
Why?! She broke the law! Point. Blank. Peri-ahd. Tons of artists have conveyed a point through song, dance, and video without having to get naked. I don’t believe it’s okay for anyone to make a mockery of the law, regardless of their intentions. Badu knew she was in the wrong; she and her camera crew immediately fled the scene after the video was done. All she had to do was obtain a permit, and she would’ve been allowed to shoot the video as she pleased. She didn’t. She was fully aware of the possible consequences and repercussions. She broke the law, and people are arguing that she’s been unfairly treated. Their main argument? “Artistic expression”.
As far as the “groupthink” theme of her video, please. This is something that a good number of us have been familiar with long before Badu brought the term to light. PoliSci, Critical Thinking 201, 2003, first semester, is when/where I first heard of it. Badu simply tied it into her extraterrestrial persona in order to get people giddy for her video/album. I read the tweets in which she asked people to define it. Most failed. In my opinion, if she’d shot the video without using the groupthink theme, most would’ve been confused as to what her message was. (She sings that she doesn’t want anyone to be near her, but also that she needs you to want her, to miss her, and even clap for her. Kind of confusing.) In addition, for her to feign her metaphorical assassination is ridiculous. To my knowledge, she’s been embraced her entire career because of her uniqueness. Whether it be her head wrap, song topics, her eccentric behavior, singing voice, or love interests, they’ve contributed to her fame. So how exactly could she “inspire” those that live outside of the box, when that’s the very thing that has brought her so many fans?
I won’t get into whether or not I think her video was a publicity stunt, or attempt to get pub for her latest album, even though I believe her nudity was more contrived than anything else. But enough of Ms. Badu…
I have a serious problem with those of you that have expressed outrage over the charge that she’s facing. I’d like to assume that she can pay a $500 fine, with no problem at all. I don’t have any information in regards to her annual income, but again, I’d like to assume that she’s more than financially stable. Why do you, and so many other stans, cry out in pain over your favorite actors/actresses/athletes/rappers/entertainers being imprisoned/fined/having their names tarnished?
Celebrities are fully aware that they are different from everyone else, and will be treated differently from everyone else. Have any of you ever asked yourselves why celebrities constantly get free goods? Why they tend to get lighter sentences when a normal person would have the book thrown at them? Why you fawn over them even when they won’t show you the common courtesy of acknowledging you? Or why they get preferential treatment, period? Yes, there might be the rare occasion when a celebrity is targeted, but that is a rare occasion.
Talib Kweli used his Twitter account to suggest to people that they pray for Lil’ Wayne, who recently began a one-year prison sentence on a weapons charge. Mr. Kweli, really? Dwayne Carter is not a newbie when it comes to dealing with the judicial system. He knew he was in the wrong, and he is now paying the price. I did not read one tweet that reached out to Wayne’s fans, or better yet, his CHILDREN AND THE MOTHERS(yes, mothers)OF HIS CHILDREN. Or maybe it was lost among the “Pray for Lil’ Wayne” and “Stay up, Lil’ Wayne” tweets that came from your tear-soaked keyboard. Who’s really suffering more? Lil’ Wayne, who, unlike 98%(my own estimation, which may be off a percent or two)of released convicts, will have a career to return to, or his children and their mothers, who will live for the next year in constant fear that he will never return home. I’ll take the latter. I understand sticking up for a brother in your fraternity(as I’ve done many times), but use that “conscious” label and think about the people around him that have been affected in a negative way.
I express the same disdain towards those that blatantly ignore celebrities’ irresponsible acts. The example that sticks out most was the Paris Hilton DUI. So many people across the country acted as if she’d been sentenced to death. She spent 32 seconds in jail, even though she could’ve killed someone with her reckless behavior. The woman has millions of dollars to her name, and she couldn’t have hired a driver? Called a cab? Asked a sober person to drive her home? Please. Stans, stop. If she hadn’t been apprehended, driven off drunk, and killed someone you knew, would you feel the same? Unfortunately, I’m sure more than a few of you would’ve pulled some weak excuse out of your ass for her actions.
It’s gotten to the point where celebrities must feel that they can do just about anything short of killing or raping someone and still have a large fanbase. I feel this way because they continue to act as if they’re not in the limelight. It’s unfair that every little move they make is heavily scrutinized, but they could’ve just as easily turned down the fame and fortune, and worked a regular 9-to-5. Instead, they chose to take the good. It’s ludicrous that they don’t want to deal with the bad.
I’m not anti-celebrity, waiting for the next celeb to fall from their pedestal. I genuinely respect what most of them do, even if I don’t happen to be a fan of theirs. However, when they act with a total disregard for the law and their stans(because to some, unfortunately, they are role models), I can’t help but lose respect for them, and their stans as well.
Many of you are in school, have jobs, and are raising families. To overly concern yourselves with the lives of people that I’m 99.9% sure you’ll never make the acquaintance of is asinine. I wouldn’t say Ms. Badu, Mr. Carter, or Ms. Hilton don’t care about you, but if they and other celebs would think about who their actions affect(besides themselves), maybe they wouldn’t find themselves in such predicaments. It’s not a conundrum. You shouldn’t feel conflicted over a celebrity. Yes, these people are here to serve as entertainment, but they were people before they were celebrities. Please, remember that the next time you decide to protest their arrest, or defend their honor.
P.S. I miss Karen!!!
P.P.S. Dear Kerry Washington, If you want to make your own version of “Window Seat”, I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. I’d even help you pay for legal representation if you were charged because of it. Sincerely, Erik