If you haven’t seen the controversial Flaming Lips video for “Western Esotericism” featuring Erykah Badu and the body of her sister Nayrok, it features full nudity, body glitter and substances that appear to be blood and semen all over the aforementioned naked body. Throw in stoned white men and an electric guitar and you have a creation that has exploded across the internet.
Initially, Badu was on her artistic tip and asked her fans in the Twittersphere to share their feelings about the song:
“Official Flaming Lips Vid discussion. How does it make u feel? Astetically, What does it make u fear? Anger?Joy?Freedom?Disgust? Discuss.”
Then, if that weren’t enough, she tweeted:
“@waynecoyne it looks beautiful. Nayrok ( lil sis) looks amazing . U are a Tru visionary .. My fav is the glitter .”
Apparently something changed for Badu after that Twitter love-fest — and I’m guessing it was when fans started telling her she had lost her damn mind. In a move that reeked of damage control, Badu unleased on Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne with the following epic tirade:
@waynecoyne then… 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).
Even with Window Seat there was a method and thought process involved. 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 .
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 .
When asked what the concept
meant after u explained it , u replied ,”it doesn’t mean anything , I just want to make a great video that everyone is going to watch. “
I understood , because as an artist we all desire that. But we don’t all do it at another artist’s expense .
I attempted to resolve this respectfully by having conversations with u after the release but that too proved to be a poor excuse for art.
You begged me to sit in a tub of that other shit and I said naw. I refused to sit in any liquid that was not water. But Out of RESPECT for you and the artist you ‘appear’ to be, I Didn’t wanna kill your concept , wanted u to at least get it out of your head . After all, u spent your dough on studio , trip to Dallas etc.. Sooo, I invited Nayrok , my lil sis and artist, who is much more liberal ,to be subject of those other disturbing (to me ) scenes . I told u from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing. But would give your edit a chance.
You then said u would take my shots ( in clear water/ fully covered parts -seemed harmless enough) and Nayrok’s part ( which I was not present for but saw the photos and a sample scene of cornstarch dripping ) and edit them together along with cosmic, green screen images ( which no one saw) then would show me the edit. .
Instead, U disrespected me by releasing pics and rough vid on the internet without my approval. (Contract breech )
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 .
You also did the same thing with the song itself which displays crappy “rough “vocals by me . I let it go , perhaps iiiii was missing something, I thought.
I Should have followed my first mind back in studio when recording the vocals “your way”.
( Red flag.) It was uncomfortable.
For that I am at fault .
Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated.
Hope it works out for ya ,Wayne.
Really i could give a shit less.
Still love your live show tho.
And , you’re welcomed.
Lesson learned .
By the way I have guested in very few videos. But I have always been given the opportunity to see the edit and contribute to it when my roll is substantial. Not this time .
I guess u feel it better to apologize than ask for permission and be refused . Hey, Love u man, but your ways are not very nice .
O, And on behalf of all the artists u have manipulated or plan to manipulate, find another way .
These things have been said out of necessity.
And if you don’t like it
you can KiSS MY Glittery ASS .
O and Nayrok told me to tell u to kiss her ass too .
I can’t be the only one who thinks that long speech is worth nothing but a penny with a hole in it. Did she not have these issues before? Why go on Twitter and verbalize her dissatisfaction? Coyne did his best to let her fans know that this was not her artistic expression, but their own, but she still threw them right under the bus — after she said that it was “amazing.”
Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’m not one who sexualizes nudity in the esoteric sense and I kind of took it in this video as representing a blank canvas, and/or base nature at different stages. I find it disgusting, yet compelling. Like a dark and fathomless vortex that just sucks you in, spits you out and makes you feel dirty from the inside out.
I know I don’t “like” it, I may even hate it. At this point, though, I just don’t get it — even as I’m drawn to it.
One thing is for sure, Nayrok is most certainly enjoying the feedback. She’s been retweeting the compliments she’s received about the video and had this to say to her sister and to Wayne Coyne:
Weigh in Clutchettes: Why do you think Badu flipped out on Coyne after initially voicing her approval of the video?