A nude Erykah Badu smeared with shimmering glitter, sticky blood, semen-ish fluid made for a heady cocktail in the video for Flaming Lips’ The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. It not only shocked, but also evoked a sense of artistic wonder. Alas, what could have been one of the most subtle juxtaposition of art and nudity was marred by a controversy.
The Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter is no stranger to nudity. (She walked around the streets of Houston in the buff for the video of her song Window Seat.) When alternative rockers Flaming Lips approached her to bare all for the video of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Badu agreed to do the ‘disturbing’ video out of ‘respect for you and the artist you ‘appear’ to be’ and roped in her more liberal minded sister Nayrok to do the nude scenes.
After the video appeared on music websites, Badu publically accused the Flaming Lips front-man Wayne Coyne of ‘violating her as a woman by releasing an unedited video of the song without her approval.’ She posted a long diatribe on Twitter saying that the band was ‘desperately releasing a poor excuse for shock and nudity that sends a convoluted message that passes as art’ and asked them to ‘KISS MY Glittery A**. O and Nayrok told me to tell u to kiss her a** too.’
The band apologized for posting the video without approval and teamed up with The Dresden Dolls’ star Amanda Palmer to record a cleaner and less erotic version of the song. Though there’s none of the glitter and blood, a nude Palmer, complete with visible pubic hair, frolics around in a bath-tub in plain water.
"A very naked, very joyful little present from me @theflaminglips !! enjoy!!!!! #NSFW!!!," Palmer posted on Titter.
Though aesthetically shot, the video doesn’t quite rouse the creative vein like the earlier version starring Erykah Badu and her sister. The release of these videos raked open the eternal debate on art vs. nudity on social networking sites. When does art turn into obscenity? Where does an artist draw the line between depicting soulless porn and sensuality of human form? While the debate continues, here’s a look at some controversial music videos which tread the thin line between nude art and crude sexualisation of bodies.
Sigur Ros - Fjogur piano
Who would imagine the shy hero of the Transformers series strutting his stuff for an indie music video – but that’s Shia LaBeouf for you. The Hollyood star has taken off his clothes and inhibitions to dance in the nude with the nubile actress Denna Thomsen for the music video of Icelandic band Sigur Ros.
As part of The Valtari Mystery Film Experiment, the band gave $10,000 and zero instructions to a dozen filmmakers and asked them to each pick a song from its new album Valtari and shoot a video inspired by the music.
Starring LaBeouf in buff, this video, was directed by Israeli video director Alma Har'el. It shows both LaBeouf and Thomsen engage in various stages of intimacies. In the seven minute long dream sequence the couple paint their naked bodies, worship dead butterflies and travel underwater in a car. The video has been slammed for showing full frontal nudity in the name of art.
Sébastien Tellier - Cochon Ville
Even in our wildest fantasies, we won’t imagine the forms of nudity on display in Cochon Ville, the first singlegfrom Sébastien Tellier's new album My God Is Blue. There’s oral, anal, girl-on-girl action, sucking, foot fetish, threesomes… and yes! gasp! many more sexual activities than you can count on your fingers.
Cochon Ville which means Pig City gives a sneak peek into a world of extreme sexual decadence. In this funky dance track, French hipsters shake their boobs and d***s in gay abandon as a Christ-like figure presides over a bacchanal orgy of men and women. Clad in a blue gown and strumming a guitar, this man chants Prosterne toi! Danse! Rêve!” (Prostate yourself, Dance, Dream), taking the intoxicated crowd to a new level of orgasmic freedom.
Marilyn Manson - Slo-Mo-Tion
The madman of metal, Marilyn Manson, is out with the second music video, Slo-Mo-Tion, from his most recent album, Born Villain. In his more than two decades old career, the singer has become synonymous with dark and explicit videos.
This time too, he has concocted a drug-infused mix of burlesque, nudity, and explicit lyrics in the latest video. Himself painted in black stripes and shrouded in shadowy imagery, Manson presents a sinister world where scantily clad women parade at night and men wear prosthetic boobs, and he, the ‘incredibly charmer’ runs “his beautiful show and everything is shot in slo-motion’.