LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - American soul singer Erykah Badu has caused a stir with a music video in which she strips naked in public at the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and falls to the ground as if shot.
Badu, 39, released the “Window Seat” music video as part of the promotion of her fifth studio album “New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)”, released on Tuesday.
The Dallas-born entertainer strips down in Dealey Plaza in the city center, and falls to the ground with a jerk at the sound of a rifle shot, which was edited into the five-and-a-half minute video.
Badu, who was dubbed the “Queen of Neo-Soul” in the 1990s and who draws on jazz and hip-hop influences, said the song was about “liberating yourself from layers and layers of skin or demons.”
She told the Dallas Morning News in an interview that she chose the famous ‘grassy knoll’ at Dealey Plaza because “it was the most monumental place in Dallas I could think of.”
Kennedy was shot in the head in 1963 while driving through Dealey Plaza in an act that stunned Americans and the world. The assassination site is widely considered sacred ground.
Badu said the video was a bid to awaken interest in a 1950s term called ‘groupthink’ in which a person is afraid to express themselves for fear of being ostracized by the wider public.
“When I fall to the ground in the video, the word groupthink spills out of my head because I was assassinated by groupthink”, she said.
John Crawford, president of the nonprofit group Downtown Dallas, told the Dallas Morning News the video was “in poor taste and in poor judgment in my opinion.”
The video sparked a lively debate among bloggers and on social media sites.
“Wow, sad how the art was displayed plain as day and no one seems to get it.? How is it a dis to JFK???...it’s inspiring to me,” wrote one commentator on YouTube.
But Janet Shaw, a blogger on web site blackpoliticalthought.com, wrote; “Erykah Badu has lost her mind. This unsightly act occurred near in Dallas near Dealey Plaza. This isn’t how a decent entertainer should behave.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte