Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Interpretation: Erykah Badu "Flaming Lips"



*Guest Post by Ashley D.

I remember watching the new Flaming Lips video featuring Erykah Badu like it was yesterday.  Actually, it was a few days ago.  One of my followers tweeted the link to me somewhere in between my first cup of coffee and the second set of morning bills I was paying.  My initial left brain reaction to the video was very similar to the rest of the world: What.  The.  Fuck?  It’s soooooo early for this.  But no sooner did the right calm down, my artsy right brain kicked in to help me process what I just saw.  On the second viewing, I analyzed the video, trying to see what it meant to me.  What message was the nudity displayed by Ms. Badu and her sister, Nayrock, conveying?  Here’s how I break.

Considering the different sounds and pictures from thevideo, it gave me vibes of human mysticism.  The nudity throughout the video represents the raw essence of the human spirit.  In the first full body shot with Erykah, we see her in a bathtub of water.  I find it interesting that while she is nude, she is covering herself.  That shows a sense of our natural vulnerability but a reluctance to bare everything within ourselves sometimes.  Amidst the various facades, masks, shields, fronts, etc. we wear as deflectors, all humans are vulnerable and the world can see parts of that.  Considering the music heard in of all the scenes with Erykah, not only do we see the natural vulnerability but we hear it as well in the rough plucks of the electric guitar (I won’t be a poser and act like I know the guitarist’s name so feel free to enlighten me, true Flaming Lips fans). 

Okay, we’ve got to the human.   Now here’s the mysticism.  The three scenes with Nayrock can symbolizetwo concepts.  The first with the glitter bath shows how we are light.  Our aura, glow, ego, demeanor, personas, swag, is our light.  Our souls radiate throughout us.  Every inch of us.  The second and the third scene can symbolize the same concept, but in different forms.  Both represent the beauty human life and existence.  The red liquid is the blood that flows beneath everyone’s flesh.  It’s what we’re covered in when we come into this world.  Oh, and the crotch shot?  No brainer.  That’s an ode to where human life comes from.  And the second scene with the white liquid?  That’s a nod to the very beginning of life.  The second crotch shot is a reinforced reference to our original home again (notice the way she has her hands over her womb this time).  This part seems to be a bit more…erotic…than the other scene.  I theorize this as signifying what it took to get us all here (errrr umm sex, duh).  The music played in all the scenes with Nayrock adds to the mysticism idea.  While there is still the rough electric guitar sound (vulnerability, humanism), it is paired with a series of light, electronic sounds that are majestic and whimsical (mysticism).  This can portray what we as people must do on a daily basis—balancing that what makes human with what also makes us mystical.  

So yeah, that’s how I read it all.  But hey, what do I know?  I guess that’s what happens to Creative Writing scholars working on one less cup of that good ol’ Colombian and one more minute for YouTube.

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