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Soft Focus

Much is being made of the political message and final moments of Erykah Badu’s video for “Window Seat,” (which is blurred in such a way as to be safe for all but the most conservative workplaces). But I really do want to talk about some of the things that are happening around the edges:

It’s interesting to me that as Badu abandons her clothes, the camera includes in the frame people picking some of them up and following after her, at least for a little while. The soft focus makes the video look like a watercolor. I recognize that the style is a direct reference to the Zapruder film of Kennedy’s assassination, and that the video’s filmed literally in the same location where that tragedy took place. But I have to admit I was a little bothered by the fact that the reactions of people around Badu were obscured. You can see some of them turning towards her, but not their expressions. It’s effective, in that it makes what happens to her more surprising. It might have been less so if we could see disgust or hatred in their features. And it might have been even more stunning if they noticed her but were generally accepting, and the person who does violence on her was identified, was clearly someone truly deviant from society as a whole.

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