It really has me fighting with myself. It’s a really catchy tune, and I reckon that I will probably one day succumb to it in a drunken karaoke disaster, but when I think about it for longer than about a second, I realise that I actually find it quite deplorable. I am of course talking about one of last year’s big summer anthems: ‘Blurred Lines’.
Pushing aside the fact (momentarily) that the lyrics read like the key defence speech in a date-rape trail; have you seen the video? Now, up until recently, I thought that everyone on the planet had seen THAT video. A couple of male friends in a recent discussion admitted that they never had. On greater consideration, I suspect that it probably is not very widely broadcast on TV, and seeing as it was initially removed from YouTube due to its explicit content; you probably have to really go looking for it. To me, this makes it one of the most quietly controversial videos I’ve ever seen.
Now, I’m not a prude and I’m not easily shocked or embarrassed, but come on! Although, that could transpire to be quite an unfortunate turn of phrase. I know that music videos are steadily becoming more and more obvious in their objectification of women (hell, even the girls are at it, but I’ll come back to Miley and Rihanna another time) but surely this video has redefined the common understanding of the word ‘gratuitous’. A trio of semi-naked models prance around making thinly-veiled fetish references (in terrible shoes might I add! That really offends me!) and fawn over Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and TI. Oh, and they also felt the need to have the message ‘Robin Thicke has a big dick’ written in balloons. I’m not sure why balloons, but that really is doleful. It’s the celebrity equivalent of writing that you’re a great shag on the toilet walls. But to a far greater audience. When everyone knows it was you. That’s pretty tragic isn’t it?
I’m not sure why it seems so blatant, perhaps it’s a potent combination of the tits; barely there pants; the choreographed strut of the models; sexually-charged looks or just the gloating, pervy presence of Mr Thicke himself, leering away in the middle of all this smut like a teenage deviant who has just discovered that his dog will lick anything covered in peanut butter. The women in it are absolutely nothing more that sexual objects, there to be chased, grabbed and owned by the men. Every time I see it I want to scream at the regressive stupidity and complete misguided-ness of the whole thing!
That’s what it is. Stupid. And terrible, terrible judgement on someone, or some committee’s part. I understand why they did it, it’s a talking point, and if people are talking about your video, that’s publicising it, and you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I wonder if Robin Thicke agrees with this old adage now? He has met with a lot of public disapproval over this. In fact, some universities even banned the playing of the song at fresher’s week events in a bid to combat sexist attitudes prevalent at them in recent years. He has apparently had to defend the song by saying it was written about his wife (er, Robin, you do know that it’s not even ok to say stuff like this about your wife-the woman you love- don’t you?) but that doesn’t really make it any more palatable.
As much as Robin Thicke is the face of it all, he is not solely responsible. If it wasn’t for some record company executive blinded by the dollar signs in his eyes, this song may never have seen the light of day. Another equally erroneous record company employee saw fit to green-light the ridiculous video concept. And it is ridiculous. If you don’t believe me, check out the brilliant Mod Carousel parody video in which the gender roles are reversed. You’ll laugh your ass off, and hopefully then see how ludicrous it is to think it’s ok for women to be depicted in that way. If I didn’t find the whole thing so damn repellent, I might actually feel a bit sorry for the fact that Robin Thicke has to face the (justified) criticism on his own. Almost. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m pretty sure that he didn’t put up too much of a fight at the video concept brain-storm session.
Just as ill-advised as the video concept are the lyrics. In essence the song appears to be telling a woman that she must want sex, with the (who could resist?) lines: ‘I know you want it’ and that there are ‘blurred lines’. I mean really, Robin Thicke? You actually thought that it would be acceptable to address the female object of your ditty with the line ‘tried to domesticate you, but you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature’ Really? If it wasn’t so bloody insulting it would be laughable. Regardless of which man they were referring to doing the domesticating, surely the word ‘domesticated’ is not one you want to use when addressing a lady? Not unless you’re trying to provoke the feminists. It’s naïve to think that line alone wouldn’t prompt criticism. It then steps up from insulting to boak-inducing in TI’s rap. ‘I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two’ is a particular highlight, after all, isn’t that what all women want, a man with such as freakishly large penis that it will mutilate her? Anyone else think these guys are protesting too much with all the cock references? Plus, I really can’t stand it when women are referred to as ‘bitches’. This song does it twice. If you still think this is an acceptable for of urban street expression I think you might need to take some sort of court-ordered class. It astounds me how three very successful male artists can’t see that this makes them look and sound, well, creepy.
Thicke has tried to imply that the song actually has a feminist message, referring to the line ‘that man is not your maker’. It is sad that he fails to realise that the rest of the lyrics undermine this. Ok, that man isn’t the boss of you, but this man wants to be and certainly doesn’t seem to be able to determine what sort of behaviour is and isn’t acceptable due to all these pesky blurred lines.
I worry that impressionable young men will look up to these guys in their suave suits, “edgy” fashion and indoor aviators. That they too will want to have a troupe of women dancing around them in the nuddy at all times. Worst of all, they’ll think that that it is ok to speak to women in this way and to think of them as ownable because that’s what they see the cool guys in the video doing. Hell, those guys even have balloon adverts about how big their bits are! I also worry that impressionable young women will see it and think that that’s what boys want from girls. Trust me, no-one ever got to the top of their game by getting them out in a music video. Lust is not the same as respect.
All joking aside, the really, really worrying thing is that this is just another arm of a rather frightening monster of our time. It’s part of an anti-female agenda that surreptitiously tries to undermine sexual equality. It’s part of the same manifesto that vilifies women for daring to object to jokes about rape. Branding them as humourless and hiding behind the pathetic excuse that ‘it’s just a joke.’ So these same people claim that this is just a bit of fun, that no-one’s forcing these models to take part in the video, and in fact, they are expressing female sexuality. However, if you can’t see the glaring problem with three fully-clothed male pop stars being cavorted around by three much less-clothed, unknown women, then you have bigger problems than this.
Now, ‘Blurred Lines’ is a really popular song, and Robin Thicke is a popular artist, so I fully expect to receive some trolling as a result of this. Perhaps I deserve it, after all, I’m writing some pretty snidey stuff about another human being. Maybe I should not have made personal comments such as smug, pervy and creepy. However, the video is definitely pervy, and I’m sure that a significant number of people, male and female find it creepy. The worst bit is that they are all so smug about it, as if behaving like this is something to be proud of. I am allowed to have an opinion though. This song is the first I’ve ever heard of Robin Thicke, and as such I will be actively avoiding his music from now on such is the impact it had on me. Like it or not, Thicke has chosen to go along with using this music video to promote his song and as such, must be prepared to accept the criticism which will of course reflect on him; it’s his voice he’s selling after all. I’m sure I’ll be called a humourless bitch; a repressed prude, whatever! I think that hearing that is far less painful than the fighting going on in my brain when I try to justify this as just part of the pop machine, that everyone does it, and it’s a catchy tune, so that somehow makes it ok. If we all did that, how far would it go? What would they do next to shock and create controversy and media interest? I certainly want it to be nipped in the bud before I have to look at Robin Thicke naked on the screen and those balloons getting really crass!
If you liked this blog then I think you’ll like this article I found after completing the first draft. It’s far more clever and funny than I am!