Filmed on Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, an intriguing video featuring a resounding rifle shot has sparked a storm of controversy. Startled on-lookers watch with shock as the video unfolds frame by frame. The day is mild, the scene ordinary, yet the central figure in the video draws attention that transcends simple curiosity.
The video begins with a vintage car, circa 1963, traveling slowly down the road that runs along Dealey Plaza. A lone driver parks the car, emerges, and checks the meter before beginning a nonchalant amble down the sidewalk. This subject is a woman dressed in a short black trenchcoat, Hollywood-style sunglasses and flat shoes. As she walks, she slowly sheds her apparel one item at a time - trench coat, sunglasses, shoes, sweatshirt, capri pants, t-shirt ... Until the final moments of the video, she is dressed in only black bra and panties.
Ordinary people watch this tableau unfold. Regular folks walking to work, enjoying the sunshine, heading home or possibly to lunch stand transfixed by the display of this woman in a slow, public strip-tease. The expressions on their faces provide the second character in the tale. Disbelief, embarrassment, disdain, and admiration appear boldly on camera. "Is it a joke?" "A hoax?" "Is it a test?" "A public service message?"
The rising action culminates when the woman reaches around her back to unhook her bra and slip her panties to the ground before taking two steps towards a stunned group of on-lookers. The small crowd hesitates and appears to part before her advance and then ... a rifle shot. The naked woman lurches forward and collapses on the sidewalk.
This is Erykah Badu's latest video and, no apologies ... I like it. For me, Badu stands a symbol for the naked truth. She's not the airbrushed, styled, edited, sexpot of the average video. Her body is ordinary, flawed, and imperfect. Her nakedness is neither sexual nor sexy - it's provocative, raw, and real. In her lumpy imperfection, Badu becomes the everywoman assassinated by the impossible social standards of physical perfection that hold most women hostage. Her message is simple - see beyond this; evolve.
Copyright 2010 Karen Napolitano