By NICK CHILES
As I read the looong Twitter rant by Erykah Badu directed at Wayne Coyne, the director of her controversial new video, I immediately thought about the vulnerability of women and girls who allow others to have control over their naked or compromised images. If someone as intelligent and empowered as Badu could get caught out there, taking off her clothes (and allowing her sister to also get naked), letting someone photograph her and then trusting him to protect her and her sister’s nakedness, then how easy would it be for teenage girls and young women to make a bad decision that they wind up regretting the rest of their lives?
Some context: Badu and her sister have been exposed all over the internet for their starring roles in a racy, explicit video for Badu’s haunting cover of the beautiful Roberta Flack classic, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The music, provided by the rock band Flaming Lips, is quirky and moody. But it’s a naked Erykah and a really naked Nayrok Badu (Erykah’s sister) who elicit the shocks, as they frolic in the bathtub, immersed in liquids that look like blood and sperm and then gold glitter. While Badu artfully covers her privates, her sister lets it all hang out, showing her breasts, her quivering butt, even glimpses of her vagina. Many were left to wonder what Badu—who famously disrobed in front of strangers in downtown Dallas for her video “Window Seat”—was up to this time. What did it all mean?
Well, apparently Badu has no idea what it all means either, judging by the text of her scathing tweets directed at Coyne. She implies that he lied to her about what was going to be shown in the video, filmed her sister completely nude when Erykah wasn’t present, then released the x-rated video to the public without letting Erykah see it.
“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),” Badu tweeted.
“Even with Window Seat there was a method and thought process involved,” she continued. “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. First: 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.”
Badu admits in the tweets that the classic mistake she made was to trust someone with compromising images of her. This is the same mistake thousands of females make on a regular basis—leading to reports of girls being ostracized and mortified at their schools because naked pictures they tweeted to their so-called boyfriends have been broadcast over the Internet for the whole world to see.
This is the message that every young lady needs to have stamped on her forehead: Unless the person you are sending the pictures to or posing for is your husband or longtime partner and you have complete confidence in him (and access to the pictures or video), under no circumstances should you send compromising images of yourself out into the world. No exceptions! You just never know what’s going to happen to your relationship down the road, whether the guy will get upset with you, or bored, and decide one day to send your naked ass out across the web. And you will never be able to get your naked ass back.
Those pictures could resurface when you’re sitting there in front of an employer for a job interview, or worse, when your children one day decide to do an exhaustive search of Mommy’s web presence. And once the pictures are in someone else’s possession, there is no statute of limitations on when they could show up. Could be next month or ten years later. And it doesn’t even have to be your guy who does the dirty deed: A wicked friend or a vengeful future girlfriend or wife could stumble across the pictures and decide to put you on blast.
Hey, you never know.
So take a page from the example set by Miss Badu. Don’t give some dude the power to humiliate you.
“U disrespected me by releasing pics and rough vid on the internet without my approval. (Contract breech ),” she tweeted. “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…As a woman I feel violated and underestimated.”
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.