Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Badu-ism, Cherry Blossoms and Being Free as a Kite

I'm so sad that I'm having issues uploading photos to this blog b/c I really wanted to share my photos from the Cherry Blossom festival:-(

So, this past weekend was a busy one. I loved it. I hung with the fam on Saturday down on the National Mall, enjoying the cherry blossoms as the National Cherry Blossom festival kicked off. Now, we initially set out to go there to fly kites because the Kite Festival by the Smithsonian was going on, too-- outside on the grass on the National Mall and inside at the Air and Space Museum. However, we missed the Kite Festival festivities and decided we were going to check out the cherry blossoms after we got to flying our kites apart from the festival. I flew a kite for the very first time in my life!

Now, as a child, I've made kites, I mean, what child hasn't? But, I always made kites with heavy materials like sticks and construction paper with no sense of gravity and no guidance from an adult to be like, "look kid, that is never gonna work". So, my homemade kites as a kid never made it off the ground. We didn't put our daughter through that whole experience of personal trial and error. We bought the dollar store kites made of thin, almost balloon-like materials, and set to flying. My spouse is a kite flying King and our daughter and I watched him like eagles. It wasn't long before we all had turns taking our two kites into the air. While kite flying seems like the most inane activity ever, it is actually exhilirating to see your kite up, up, up in the air.

When we brought our kites down, we walked to the tidal basin and snapped photos of ourselves with the flowers.

Erykah Badu Gets Naked
So, this weekend, Erykah Badu released the video to her song "Window Seat" this past weekend. Her album comes out on Tuesday. As a music writer, this was big news and the Twitter world was abuzz over this new vid Miss Badu put out. Always edgy, Badu always puts on a twist on things that seems avant-garde and original. For fans like me, that is what is most appreciated by the eclectic singer. In her new video, she doesn't fall short of expectation.

In "Window Seat" Badu strips to her birthday suit in the area where President JFK was assasinated. Now, while there is a bit of time that goes by before she is actually butt-naked, her nakedness has been the main talking piece around this video. Most men are unabashedley drawn to discussing how curvaceous and round her butt is, while women who are fans have marveled at how she has used her nudity to draw attention to her message about how indivduality is shot down in the face of what she calls "group think".

For someone brazenly outspoken like myself, this video was a salve to a very irritated wound. While I purposefully selective on who I allow into my space, it is often a crap shoot who I will encounter when I have less control over my environment. I have bore the brunt of many encounters with people who have chosen to silence me or retaliate because I have maybe not agreed with them in one instance or I've been resolute about something in another instance. This is usually when I am new and entering an environment where change has been infrequent and often met with conflict or alienation.

In all instances, I've been an advocate for unboxed thinking and one's right to have an opinion and opportunity to explore different sides to any one situation. Needless to say, I have never done well in situations that have required the group think mentality of cliques and circles. Badu references this in her video-- the word group think is above her head as she falls. The term was coined in 1952 and I encourage you to read about it on Wikipedia. Just google it. Type in "GroupThink". Man, oh, man.

Erykah Badu's video just resonated profoundly. I even tried explaining it to my daughter, but I wasn't able to find the words yet to make it accessible to her. Then, it would require backdrop, and I'm not so sure it would be helpful to her understanding Badu's video. I don't want my own baggage to be handed to her. Not necessarily a loner, I have definitely been known for my easy way of asking questions and speaking up. I don't follow because its just the "right" or "easy" thing to do. I also don't believe that you are being confrontational when you say "no" to someone's imposition on you. So, all of this-- all of this experience, this way of being just came to fore when I watched her video. It's so powerful to me. The gunshot-- killing someone risking being bare, it's so symbolic, so tragic, and so freeing to watch all at once. How do you explain all of that to a 6 year-old? I'm mulling on that now.

I've initiated discussions on my Facebook page about this and one of the writers on one of the music sites I write for posted a post about Erykah's thought-process going into creating this video. There is a lot of talk going on about this. And, this can be nothing but good for the sale of the CD. But, some questioned whether Badu's sole intent was to sell CDs. I say that it doesn't matter. First, I think it is crazy how it is expected that artists who wish to provoke thought also wish to be broke. Why can't a thinking artist want to sell CDs or be recognized positively for what they do? That's not selling out. I think it's daring to infuse a message in your work that is not misogynistic or self-hating when the trends in today's mainstream music always teeter along those lines. Here is the video. What are your thoughts?

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