Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Against the Norm - Erykah Badu & The Freedom of Artistic Expression

Once again, I'm back, giving you another comment I posted on a subject near and dear to my heart.....artistic expression.

Recently, a music video was released for Erykah Badu's latest single "Widow Seat". The video is a metaphor for relinquishing the constraints of conformity & the consequences for doing so. It's provocative in the fact that it also contains an instance of public nudity captured via a gurrilla filmmaking style. The link below is from a Yahoo! media blog that discusses the controversy surrounding Ms. Badu's latest effort. Many comments that were posted in response to the article were laced with indecency themselves, retorting to name calling, pleads for criminal charges to be filed, & threats of violence if said people "would have been there" while it was happening.
My own value for artistic expression combined with my personal views of the "groupthink phenomenon" predicated my response to much of what was being posted on the comment page. Below is the link to the article. The actual music video is embedded below as well.

~{The video image was truncated when published, double click the video pane to be sent to the original music video}~

Check it the some of the comments posted to the article....then return to "Soul Speak from Backbeats" to read my own response. It will give you a better frame of reference to understand my perspective as stated in words.

My comment was as follows...

"The comments on this article support the message Ms. Badu was conveying musically & visually in "Window Seat". The group think of what is obscene & the ostracization she is receiving for it is exactly the point. Individualism in thought isn't celebrated any longer, for many people hide behind a veil of political correctness rather than thinking, speaking, & acting for themselves.

What this article has left out & what most of y'all screaming bloody murder by calling for her arrest fail to realize is that this incident happened weeks complaints were made...& no charges were brought forth. I don't have kids, & I'm an artist myself, so perhaps my own perspective is biased, but what I do know is, the purpose of art is to inspire thought, emotion.....hopefully both. The clarity & execution of Ms. Badu's vision within this video is commendable. Granted, this same narrative could've been conveyed using visual effects, & honestly from the lack of reaction in the video, I thought it was.

I currently reside in Dallas, & many of my peers find it odd that there are so many visitors to the city who venture out to Dealey Plaza. Traffic in that area on weekends is regularly slowed due to the hordes of people taking group pictures, strolling about, staring @ the book depository window. If one wants to pay their respects to President Kennedy, they should do so @ his grave, not the scene of the crime. It's nothing for the city to be proud of, & as a native Texan I regret such a luminary figure met his demise in my home state.

This video is not disrespectful to Kennedy's memory. It just serves as a mere reminder of the inherent danger within going against the norm. Kennedy.....Lennon......King.....Romero.....Jesus Christ...sadly, the list goes on."

Well.....that's the way I see it. I hope you can understand where I'm coming from. I have to give mad props to Ms. Erykah Badu for continuing the efforts to expand the collective conscious of the masses by fostering a supportive environment for individual thought rather than mere "groupthink".

If you've gotten this far...thanks for reading!

I Wish You Peace, Love, & All That's Beautiful in this World (& the next)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sorry, I Didn't Mean to Crash Your Tea Party.

As I'm sure you are all aware of, our nation's Congress & President have set into motion historical reform to American healthcare as we know it yesterday. The county's political climate has been severely strained leading to this vote & remains so in its wake. In this age of social media, much of the discourse (or lack thereof) occurs online via sites such as Facebook. I previously posted a long drawn response as a blog entry before & as this blog serves as a means to get some things off of my chest, I think it's only right to share this as well.

As a progressive, many of my friends & I have been on the defensive now that pundits such as Glen Beck have placed us on their attack list. This exchange proved no different. My good friend Paul posted an editorial from the Huffington Post entitled "Good Wins Over Evil. Period". Now, I'm not one to incite more division with such bold statements, but I will speak my mind & heart when someone makes assumptions or indictments of my character. I commented lightly to the posting of this article, making fun of the writer's previous works, yet someone found the article and our support of it downright incendiary. Granted, "good and evil" are always dangerous claims to make, but though the author acknowledged his words were directed toward the "fringe" and not the entire GOP, this was an insufficient designation that I felt merited a retort.

What follows is my response/release about their view on our stance in support of this particular editorial.

(~for frame of reference I was told I should "read Mein Kampf instead of the Huffington Post".....yup, real classy, I know. Tell me if you've heard this one, "so this Neo-Con called me a Nazi"~)

I'm glad you said Mein Kamph & not the Koran, but hey, this is the "information age" so everybody with an opinion has MULTIPLE streams by which to express themselves for the WORLD to take notice. Whether it's statistical concrete facts or emotionally driven opinion, isn't that an exercise in freedom of speech? I'd say it's about as much of an exercise in freedom as assembling in front of congress with signs that read "American Taxpayers are Jews for Obama's Ovens," "No Voo-Doo Medicine," or (my favorite) "If Brown Can't Stop the Bill A Browning Can!"

All I can say is this, if these "fringe" people who have no shame in protest, as well as nut-jobs like the Joe Stack, are praised & accepted by a so-called "movement" then not only do I not want ANYTHING to do with them, but I'm ashamed that they are considered my FELLOW Americans. Though I'm sure they don't even give two s#!ts what I think.

Patriotism is fine and dandy when it's veiled within support for an unpopular war, but it's apparently an absolute bitch when veiled within angst towards an "unpopular" bill. Taxes aren't going to end anytime soon, & unfortunately neither is the Fed. Government has been and will do with our money what they damn well please, so whether you think Medicare & Social Security are at risk because of the latest bill or are aware of numerous times in our past that the federal budget have been "re-appropriated" to fund the military industrial complex or PSA's & Plan Colombia to fight the "War on Drugs," I guess, it's neither here nor there.

All I know is the benefits for individuals & estimates for the cuts this bill will make to our deficit don't come off as negatives to me. The last time I checked nations with far reaching socialized medicine (which isn't even good word to describe what was voted on in Congress) haven't gone bankrupt because of it, yet many individual Americans & families alike are & have been because of the current cost of healthcare. Also, if the next generation's debt is your concern rather than their access to affordable healthcare, ask yourself this, when since our nation's inception have we NOT been in debt & how long did that last? The fundamental purpose of the reform is to put the emphasis on the American people & not the insurance companies' profits.

So, if the opposition to this reform can't take the time to actually become aware of this & would rather label it "Socialism" (which it's not), & proponents of the bill as Nazis (which is absolutely ludicrous), allege that is a means to invoke "white slavery" (just plain preposterous), or speculate that what women may or may not choose to do with their now required PRIVATE insurance has a direct connection to federal funds, then THEY'RE A CLOSE MINDED, LOST CAUSE & THEIR MISGUIDED INDIGNATION IS SOMETHING TO FEAR (see Browning comment).

I'm not saying they're evil, but their reveled ignorance & vitriolic rhetoric saddens me reason to pause.....and watch my back.

That is all, Peace.

In the days since this posting reports of racial & homosexual epithets, death threats (explicit & veiled), & vandalism (from bricks & pellet guns breaking windows to family members' gas lines to their homes being cut) have been suffered by Congressmen & women who have publicly supported this bill.

Recently, I listened to an interview with House Majority Whip James E, Clyburn. In speaking of the current furor by the Conservative fringe, he mentioned a recent visit to a university where he discussed his involvement in civil rights during the '60s. When faced with what seemed insurmountable odds, threats violence or jail time for fighting the status quo, Mr. Clyburn said that he took the slings and arrows in the '60s so that ensuing generations would not have to endure or witness these ills again. Strange that over 40 years later human decency & governmental decorum have vanished, bringing forth the same reprehensible behavior he thought he would never witness again.

If you're reading this, I wish you.....
LOVE, PEACE, & All That's Beautiful in this World.....& the next,