By now, you have probably heard about or seen “Window Seat” for yourself. In the video, which was released on Badu’s Web site a couple of Saturdays ago at 3:33 a.m., she goes nude to promote individuality and is shot in the head once all her clothes are off. She falls to the ground near the same grassy knoll where President Kennedy
was shot in downtown Dallas
in 1963. Instead of blood, animated words that spell out “groupthink
” leak from her head on the sidewalk.
The singer said she received support from women such as Jill Scott, Mo’Nique, Angela Davis and Kim from Matt and Kim (the duo’s clip for “Lessons Learned” inspired “Window Seat”) as well as other celebrity fans. Badu knew the clip would cause a stir.
“I know it was a shocking thing I did,” she said. “I expected it to provoke dialogue, and it’s an important statement to make. It’s about freeing oneself of the layers and layers of things that we have learned as Americans in this country. At the point of becoming naked and individual and free, either you’re assassinated spiritually or mentally by the group or worse. The words coming out of my head after I was figuratively and literally assassinated was ‘groupthink.’ Groupthink is a term coined by Irving Janis, 1972. It pretty much states what happens when a character or person is ostracized for thinking out of what the consensus is. He or she is pretty much thinking [more] with a heart than with loyalty. It’s an important thing. It’s art. It’s performance art.”
As much support as she got from friends, family and fans, Badu said certain media outlets lambasted her.
“Art is supposed to spark dialogue and ring an awakening of some sort,” she maintained, “especially if it is impactful and powerful. I didn’t expect to be demonized, but I did expect to spark that sort of dialogue.
“I put it out on my site at 3:33 a.m. What are the odds that it would spread like that?” she added. “It’s something much bigger than me. And it’s not over yet. There are many layers to that. You can peel back one or peel back many.”
The Grammy winner said she first thought of the idea to go nude in “Window Seat” while in the studio. She started researching nudity in art and came across the Matt and Kim video for “Lessons Learned.” She came up with the treatment for “Window Seat” and chose directors Coodie and Chike from Creative Control. The singer said she directed the video and loved the way Coodie and Chike shot. She hopes to work with them again on many projects.
“It was real,” she said about shooting on St. Patrick’s Day in Dealey Plaza in Dallas. “We only had one take to do it. It was done in one minute and 22 seconds. We sped the music up really fast in order to give it the slow-motion feel. I was walking really fast. Like a brisk jog/walk. I was nude for about 15 seconds of that. It was a brave thing to do. I had a chance to confront a lot of fears in that moment.”
Even while shooting and knowing they had only one chance to get things right, Badu had second thoughts. You see in the video there’s a part where she goes to unzip the zipper in her hoodie and stops before taking a few more steps and finally unzipping it.
“The first unzip was ‘OK.’ The backup was ‘Should I do this?‘ ” she explained. “Afterwards, after it was all over, we ran.”
Although she made a getaway, Badu was charged with disorderly conduct last week and fined $500. The singer said she has not received the paperwork from police yet.