Erykah Badu's JFK video: Should she be punished?

Dallas police have (belatedly) charged Badu for loosely reenacting a presidential assassination without permits — or clothes. Justified?

Was Badu's controversial video illegal?
(Image credit: Screenshot)

Erykah Badu may be regretting her decision to allude to John F. Kennedy's assassination — while disrobing — for her "Window Seat" music video. Days after the clip's release, Dallas police have charged the singer with disorderly conduct and fined her $500 for failing to secure permits before she filmed the "guerrilla-style" video in Dealey Plaza, site of the JFK tragedy. This somewhat sluggish response was reportedly triggered by a witness who says she found Badu's public disrobing "offensive." Is Badu's punishment justified?

The punishment is totally valid: Had Badu gotten "permission from the city of Dallas" to shoot "such a video," says blogger Outsanity in Chicago Now, she'd have reason to complain. As it stands, pulling this stunt was "no brighter" than the decision "stupid criminals" make to post YouTube videos that help police catch them.

"Guess who's in trouble again?"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

It's not right, but Badu saw this coming: Seeing "an artist" charged for something "that no one evidently complained about until well after her video had become a topic of discussion" is "somewhat stunning," says pop culture blog Idolator. "But Badu was in fact prepared" for arrest. According to the video's directors, Chilke and Coodie, Badu "knew she might face criminal charges," but "wanted to proceed anyway." Talk about being devoted to your art.

Justified or not, it's good for Badu: "The disorderly conduct charge is an amazing public-relations coup," says Randall Roberts in the Los Angeles Times. While the episode might have tainted the reputation of younger, family friendly artists like "Taylor Swift...or Justin Bieber, there's "no downside" for Badu. Authorities have ensured that her name will stay in the news cycle longer — increasing public curiosity about the video.

"In an amazing PR coup, Erykah Badu charged with disorderly conduct"

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us