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Erykah Badu's new 'Window Seat' video stirs controversy: Is the JFK imagery offensive?

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erykah-baduImage Credit: Kenneth CappelloWhat’s the most controversial part of Erykah Badu’s new “Window Seat” video? If you asked me yesterday, I would have said the public nudity for sure. According to a story in today’s Dallas Morning News, though, some city residents are more offended by the video’s allusions to the death of President John F. Kennedy. Badu filmed her one-take striptease in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza, the place where JFK was assassinated in November 1963. The video’s fuzzy, slowed-down cinematography directly references the Zapruder film of that event. At the song’s end – SPOILER ALERT – Badu’s bare stroll is cut short by a sudden gunshot that appears to kill her instantly.

In interviews and on Twitter, Badu has suggested that she was trying to make a point about how social conformity punishes those who transgress its rules – for instance, by removing all their clothing on a crowded street. Or by re-enacting one of the most infamous moments in U.S. history for a music video. The Dallas Morning News quotes one local activist as saying, “I don’t understand how someone who lives here, who is a resident of this city, could do such a thing.” (Badu lives in Dallas.) “It’s in poor taste and poor judgment, in my opinion,” adds another city leader quoted in the story. Then again, the Dallas City Council’s Angela Hunt told the Morning News that the debate over Badu’s video is “a trivial issue that comes at a time when the city is facing so many more important issues.” Badu hasn’t explicitly addressed the JFK issue on Twitter, but on Sunday, she had this to say: “one cant oppose #groupthink, its a part of human nature , but only recognize his/her position in the thing and redefine his/herself.” Late last night, she added, “The butt naked truth is powerful America !!!!”

You can watch the “Window Seat” video at erykahbadu.com if you haven’t seen it yet. We’ve reached out to Badu for her thoughts on this controversy. In the meantime, whose side are you on here? Is the video’s JFK theme smart or offensive? Do you even think this is a subject worth arguing over? Sound off in the comments below.

Originally posted March 30 2010 — 11:26 AM EDT

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