Just a snippet of my thoughts:
"That’s the thing about art. You really do see what you want to see. In the case of Badu’s video, some will see it as perverse while others, probably most of her fans, will probably see a more profound statement. Two days after seeing the video, I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like it or hate it. Although, I really think I am leaning towards not caring. Even if she was taking a page from the Tree of Life and doing some sort of existentialist view about creation, I just found the whole concept dull and teetering on the line of pretentiousness. For me, there was no implication of a greater cause or any attempts to challenge views or society. And after the three minutes or so were over, I wasn’t left wanting for more. In short, it just wasn’t that deep. Plus, the face shot at the end was just plain ‘ol nasty."
Again you can read the piece in it's entirety at Madame Noire.
Of course, the drama didn't stop there. Three (or four days) after the video had been circulated, discussed and analyzed to death throughout the web, the Flaming Lips released a statement basically saying, oops our bad.
Actually this is what the statement really says:
" OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM - WAYNE COYNE / FLAMING LIPS "The video link that was erroneously posted on Pitchfork by the Flaming Lips of the Music Video 'The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face', which features Erykah Badu, is unedited and unapproved.. Sorry!! We, the Flaming Lips, accept full responsibility for prematurely having Pitchfork post it. It has outraged and upset a segment of fans and we apologize if we offended any viewers!!! This is a Flaming Lips video which features Erykah Badu and her sister Nayrok and is not meant to be considered an Erykah Badu or Nayrok statement, creation, or approved version.”
Okay. Y'all came kind of late with this statement. But if that wasn't enough, later in the day, on Badu's Facebook fan page, she realized her own statement, basically saying - well I don't know for sure but I'll let you all read it for yourselves after the jump:
@waynecoyne then... perhaps, next time u get an occasion to work with an artist who respects your mind/art, you should send at least a ROUGh version of the video u PLAN to release b4 u manipulate or compromise the artist's brand by desperately releasing a poor excuse for shock and nudity that sends a convoluted message that passes as art( to some).
Even with Window Seat there was a method and thought process involved. I have not one need for publicity . I just love artistic dialogue . And just because an image is shocking does not make it art.
You obviously have a misconception of who I am artistically. I don't mind that but...
By the way you are an ass.
Yu did everything wrong from the on set .
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.
That all spells 1 thing ,
Self Serving .
When asked what the concept
meant after u explained it , u replied ,"it doesn't mean anything , I just want to make a great video that everyone is going to watch. "
I understood , because as an artist we all desire that. But we don't all do it at another artist's expense .
I attempted to resolve this respectfully by having conversations with u after the release but that too proved to be a poor excuse for art.
You begged me to sit in a tub of that other shit and I said naw. I refused to sit in any liquid that was not water. But Out of RESPECT for you and the artist you 'appear' to be, I Didn't wanna kill your concept , wanted u to at least get it out of your head . After all, u spent your dough on studio , trip to Dallas etc.. Sooo, I invited Nayrok , my lil sis and artist, who is much more liberal ,to be subject of those other disturbing (to me ) scenes . I told u from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing. But would give your edit a chance.
You then said u would take my shots ( in clear water/ fully covered parts -seemed harmless enough) and Nayrok's part ( which I was not present for but saw the photos and a sample scene of cornstarch dripping ) and edit them together along with cosmic, green screen images ( which no one saw) then would show me the edit. .
Instead, U disrespected me by releasing pics and rough vid on the internet without my approval. (Contract breech )
That is equivalent to putting out a security camera's images of me changing in the fitting room.
I never would have approved that tasteless, meaningless, shock motivated video .
Our art is a reflection of who we are . I have no connection to those images shot in their raw version. I was interested in seeing an amazing edit that would perhaps change or alter my thoughts . Never happened .
You also did the same thing with the song itself which displays crappy "rough "vocals by me . I let it go , perhaps iiiii was missing something, I thought.
I Should have followed my first mind back in studio when recording the vocals "your way".
( Red flag.) It was uncomfortable.
For that I am at fault .
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.
Hope it works out for ya ,Wayne.
Really i could give a shit less.
Still love your live show tho.
And , you're welcomed.
Lesson learned .
By the way I have guested in very few videos. But I have always been given the opportunity to see the edit and contribute to it when my roll is substantial. Not this time .
I guess u feel it better to apologize than ask for permission and be refused . Hey, Love u man, but your ways are not very nice .
O, And on behalf of all the artists u have manipulated or plan to manipulate, find another way .
These things have been said out of necessity.
And if you don't like it
you can KiSS MY Glittery ASS .
O and Nayrok told me to tell u to kiss her ass too .
Analog Girl's Magnetic Strip Club"
Um okay. Again, better late than never? Timing aside, nothing in her response explains why on her own Twitter timeline she had once co-signed the video and even promoted still shots of her sister from the video shoot. And at no time during the three days the video had been floating around the internet prior to this grandiose statement did she express her disapproval of the video? Instead, she sent out a series of tweets asking folks impressions of the video, mainly what they felt it meant and then posing the question: "what if the video had no meaning at all?" Pretty deep stuff there Badu - with exception that most folks already came to that conclusion. Also, what I found most interesting is that while Badu thought the video concept disturbing, thus her rejection of some of the things they wanted her to do, she basically said, here, let my sister do it.
So this had all sorts of folks wondering if this was some sort of publicity stunt. Even Billboard wonders if this is just a "masterful ruse," particularly because of this exchange after both statements were released:
"Dang!!!!! @fatbellybella you really know how to do it!!!!" he said. "You hatin on me has gotten the video 100,000 more views !!!LOVE LOVE LOVE"
Badu snarkily responded, "Again, you're welcomed. You Enjoy it. People need to see the greed up close. AAAAnd you DO NOT have the ass of 26 year old.""
At first I too thought this was a publicity stunt. In fact, on my Facebook page, I wrote that Badu was basically full of shit. Like the only reason she has started this "feud"now was because the video got a lot of negative response from her fanbase. But now I'm wondering if is a combination of all of the above plus something else: 1/3 publicity stunt, 1/3 backtracking and 1/3 art installation? Wait, does that equal up to 1 whole? I dunno. I always sucked at math but you all get the point.
Anyway, buried within the comment section of her statement on Facebook was this interesting link to an artist named Ogechi Chieke. I have never heard of her before however from what I could gather via Google, Chieke is an New York based, award winning artist best know for her performance art installation, Thee Creation Theory, which is a symbolic depiction of a primal birth. Like the Flaming Lips video, Chieke films herself covered in red paint and white stuff, possible milk, to symbolize blood and, well, I let you define that one. The point is that this is the symbolic creation of the first woman, at least according to the book Contemporary Color: Theory and Use.
Interesting because that is what I, as well as others, got from the Flaming Lips/Badu collaboration. Hmm...
Also by coincidence, Chieke is a successful media artist who has worked in many aspect of video or motion graphics, including music videos. Her resume includes the likes of Declaime, also known as Dudley Perkins, and of course Georgia Anne Muldrow. If the name Georgia Anne Muldrow sounds familiar well that is because she was featured on Badu's Master Teacher, which she co-wrote and sung for the New Amerykah Part 1 album. And most recently, she co-wrote, produced and played some of the instruments on the Out My Mind, Just in Time, song for Badu's New Amerykah Part 2 album.
It is not uncommon for an artist, especially a performance artist, to perform an outrageous stunt for the purpose of causing a reaction. This is not just a cheap trick to incite controversy but to make people part of the original exhibition. This style of art was best illustrated by the Swedish Nigger Cake where the actual exhibit was less important than the spectacle including both the clueless people in the room and the outrage by many in the media, which surrounded it. Perhaps, just maybe Badu is trying to send a bigger message? After all, it was her video Window Seat, which got everyone talking about the concept of GroupThink.
Or maybe this is all just a coincidence. Nothing more than a series of random associations brought on by the whole six degrees of separation thing. But speculation is fun, right? Plus we all know that Badu is strong on symbolism and even more methodical in terms of imagery. Likewise, being a huge fan, I really want to find meaning besides a video that had no meaning, as she has suggested. That would lame and I don't want Badu name to be attached to anything that pointless. I mean, for goodness sake, the damn statement she posted to Facebook was time stamped at exactly 3:33 p.m. That has to mean something. Perhaps, in the words of Badu, we just didn't do our math?