R&B star Erykah Badu's has drawn considerable criticism for her latest music video, which depicts her walking, stripping naked, then acting out being gunned down on the same Dallas street where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The video was shot guerilla style. The one-take stunt was filmed without permission from the city of Dallas and without a warning to the pedestrians -- including children -- who witnessed it.
However, the video is raising questions about artistic freedom. Is the video performance art or a crime?
Rock legend Alice Cooper, who is known for his stage antics - including simulating a guillotine beheading -- said on "The Early Show" Thursday her video seemed to effectively shock a "shock-proof" America.
He said, "Art is supposed to provoke."
However, he added Badu seemed to take the easy route to get attention.
"I never used nudity in my show. I always thought it was too easy. That's an easy way to shock," he said. "But I can see what she was going for. I don't know if it's -- if it was sexually oriented, I think I might have more of a problem with it. If it was more pornographic like that. But, I mean, if you go to the Louvre, all of art is based on naked women. I mean, I don't think it's anything new to see a naked woman. On the street, it is a different thing."
But Badu defended her work in the Dallas Morning News, saying, "The song 'Window Seat' is about liberating yourself ... I tied it in a way that compared the assassination to the character assassination one would go through after showing his or herself completely."
But Cooper got a different message from Badu's video.
He continued, "If we both looked at a painting we'd have different interpretations of it. I don't think it's the nudity is the thing. It's where it was done. And that place being a sacred place to normal America. And I can see -- my take on it was when I first saw it, I thought what she's saying here is anybody can get shot in America. I mean, if the president of the United States can get shot, so can a naked black girl. That's was my first take on it. So my interpretation was totally different than what she was trying to say. But I'm sure everybody had a different take on it."
"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Cooper how his work less offensive than Badu's.
Cooper responded that his work is based in comedy.
"I think when you see my whole show, you realize that my show is very vaudevillian. And people totally understand what I'm doing with it," he said. "But it is based on comedy. I doubt if what she was trying to be funny this."
He continued, "But art is art and we get back to that whole thing of who is judging art and is it art, what was her intention, what was the statement. When I finally found out was what she was saying ... that's pretty, you know -- that's a pretty deep shot right there. I didn't pick up on that."
Cooper acknowledged the children present at the filming.
"I'm always very aware of that," he said. "But it's not hard to see naked ladies anywhere in America."
Rodriguez added, "Yeah, I don't think it's necessarily the naked part, as we've established, that people had a problem with."
"It was the Kennedy thing. But, again, that's the provoking part," Cooper said. "That's the part that gets her on television like this. And, you know, Yoko Ono did things like that, Lori Anderson. Performance art, you have to kind of push the envelope."
For more with Alice Cooper, click on the video below.
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