You may have heard Robin Thicke’s hit of the moment, Blurred Lines. If not, here’s your chance. Take a look (it’s a bit NSFW):
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s generated a lot of controversy, and not because Pharrell hasn’t aged a day since Drop It Like It’s Hot. It’s catchy as hell (I confess, I often find myself humming it), but you’ve got to admit it’s a bit off. It’s kind of the equivalent of that dude that follows you around the bar, telling you your hair looks nice while staring at your tits and waiting for you to leave your drink unattended so he can slip you something. I mean, the hook of the song is “I know you want it.” Fun, right? Cute, catchy and vaguely sexually threatening! Everything you want out of a summer hit!
Obviously, racy videos/ lyrical content are nothing new. Tragically, neither are videos/ lyrical content that makes you wonder if it’s safe to be a lone female attempting to go anywhere or do anything. But the thing that really gets me grinding my teeth is the way he’s handled the controversy and the numerous public statements he’s made about the song.
Most artists whether waves of controversy in one of three ways. The first is complete silence. This either makes your intentions seem mysterious and interesting or makes you look like a massive dickhead. It can go either way. The second route is to issue a half-arsed public apology, thrown together in a flurry of panic by a stressed-out PR team. They follow a pretty standard script: “I’m very sorry if I offended ‘X Group of People’. It wasn’t my intention. Some of my best friends are ‘X Group of People’ and I have had lengthy discussions with them about my behaviour etc. etc. Won’t happen again.” In extreme enough cases, offers are made to donate large sums of money to a charity affecting ‘X Group of People’, effectively buying back public affection. This method also makes the offending party look like a dickhead, but it’s probably more effective than radio silence. The third is a well considered and genuine statement in which remorse is expressed, there is no buck-passing and promises to correct behaviours are followed through with. This one is rare, but good. Keep these in your heart and remember them in times of hardship.
Robin Thicke has, of course, done none of these things. In fact, he’s been so cavalier about the whole thing in a recent interview with GQ Magazine he said the following.
We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.” People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.” After the video got banned on YouTube, my wife tweeted, “Violence is ugly. Nudity is beautiful. And the ‘Blurred Lines’ video makes me wanna…” You know. And that’s the truth. Right now, with terrorism and poverty and Wall Street and Social Security having problems, nudity should not be the issue.
No. Really. Those are words that came out of Robin Thicke’s mouth and were published without irony or comment in GQ Magazine . WHAT A PLEASURE IT IS TO DEGRADE A WOMAN!? Like he’s eating a fucking sandwich or taking a nice stroll in the park!? “What did you do today, sir?” “Well, Jeeves, I took a nice turn about the grounds. Ate a sandwich. Degraded some women. Should’ve seen the look on their faces! HA! Such a pleasure.” I don’t know why he’s suddenly become a British aristocat with a butler named Jeeves, but you get the point, right?
Thicke seems to be under the impression that the reason that people are upset about the video is the nudity. He’s wrong. The nudity is just the reason the video was banned. Nudity in and of itself is not offensive. However, three fully clothed dudes standing around and doing a bunch of degrading things to women while a jaunty little tune that heavily implies that there’s no need for consent because they “know you want it” is really offensive. And there’s no getting round it now because Thicke has pretty much copped to it and spoken about how enjoyable it was to participate in such an endeavour. But it’s alright guys! He’s totally not a misogynist! He respects women! All he’s doing is balancing at that massive gender gap – you know… that gap where women routinely trample over and objectify men and have such behaviour endorsed by institutions, the media and popular culture? What a delight to turn such a system on its head! He has a wife and kids. He’s definitely not a misogynist.
If you weren’t picking up on the sarcasm in that last paragraph, you probably don’t belong on this blog. In simple, sarcasm-free words: three guys who have ‘always respected women’ suddenly deciding to ‘turn that on its head’ and ‘comment’ on that respect by showing the complete opposite, isn’t a witty comment. It just shows off something gross that’s been bubbling away under the surface that whole time. The artists’ true colours, if you will. Having a wife, doesn’t make you miraculously misogyny-free, any more than having a black friend makes you suddenly not racist. Newsflash: you can hang out with women and still do and say shitty things to them… have any of you ever been to a bar? That’s pretty much the whole deal.
On top of that, on the Today Show, Thicke also said the following:
Yeah, but I think that’s what great art does. It’s supposed to stir conversation, it’s supposed to make us talk about what’s important and what the relationship between men and women is, but if you listen to the lyrics it says ‘That man is not your maker’ — it’s actually a feminist movement within itself.
Ah yes. New-New-New Wave Feminism. In which degrading acts performed in thongs to catchy little sexual harrassment anthems are the ultimate form of liberation. Forgive me. I’ve obviously not done enough reading. I don’t know if Judith Butler mentioned that one. Sorry. More sarcasm (and a Judith Butler reference). I’ll try to stop. First of all, the line “that man is not your maker” is followed up by the line “just let me liberate you.” I’m assuming based on the video/lyrics, that Mr. Thicke would like to liberate me by putting his dick in me and that I don’t have much of a say in the matter. Secondly, you don’t get to speak for me! Say it with me: Robin! Thicke! Does! Not! Get! To! Speak! For! Me! The idea that Robin Thicke thinks he can tell that some poor girl has some unresolved naughty side that’s just waiting to be brought out by a good screw is a) revolting and b) ABSOLUTELY NOT HIS DECISION TO MAKE. He doesn’t get to pick and choose how women use or don’t use their sexuality. That’s their job!
i need to stop before I bust a blood vessel. Robin Thicke is revolting. I hope he catches fire, or at the very least stops talking.