I Hope Robin Thicke Catches Fire

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):

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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.

Abercrombie and Fitch Want You (If You’re Hot)

My new(ish) flatmate has been looking at graduate programs recently, which has gone swimmingly for me because she had the good fortune of stumbling over the Abercrombie and Fitch stall. Thankfully, A&F had the good sense to hand out some reading material for prospective employees. It is full of hairless people in various stages of undress and, perhaps more importantly, some really great insight into what exactly drives the “experts in cool, All-American casual wear”. Since I know you’re all super-keen to know these things, I’m going to go through the booklet with you so that you can be all that you can to be. (We all want to be All-American frat-boy dudebros right? Good. Cos that’s where this is headed.)

A&F: Teach Me How to Dudebro

A&F: Teach Me How to Dudebro

Let me tell you man, this book is 25 pages of pure gold. There are four chapters: Lifestyle Brands, Company Growth, Social Responsibility, Store Opportunities and each of these chapters is illustrated with the kind of wholesome hairless models that I assume A&F wants staffing their various branches.

This man has no pubic hair.

This man has no pubic hair. I find that terrifying.

So according to the first page of Lifestyle Brands, which I have already kind of mocked, A&F is committed to “grow up with” their customers and “market the most aspirational lifestyle to each of our customers.” I wasn’t aware that a lack of pubic hair and an overabundance of flannel shirts counted as an aspirational lifestyle, but there you go. The next 8 pages are dedicated to the most pretentious of product descriptions.

First up, there’s the actual Abercrombie and Fitch brand.

Be cool.

Be cool.

Next to the dumb looking model with the unreasonably square jaw, is a paragraph about what it means to wear Abercrombie and Fitch. “Rooted in East Coast traditions and Ivy League heritage, Abercrombie and Fitch is the essence of privilege and casual luxury.” ‘Privilege and casual luxury’ is a fancy way of saying “able to pay $60+ for a plain white t-shirt. “A combination of classic and sexy creates a charged atmosphere that is confident and just a bit provocative. Idolised and respected, Abercrombie and Fitch is timless, and always cool.” I wasn’t aware that baggy grey sweat pants constituted the kind of combination of classic, sexy and timeless that worked together to charge the atmosphere, but what would I know?

The next chapter deals with abercrombie kids (no capitalisation).

Snapshot_20130319_6

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that model looks like a child. This model looks like a 25 year old with an underdeveloped face. Anyway, apparently abercrombie kids is the “essence of privilege and prestigious East Coast prep schools.” Well that’s embarrassing. “With a flirtatious and energetic attitude, abercrombie kids are popular, wholesome and athletic.” How old are these kids? I’m so confused. Apparently they’re “the signature of All-American cool” but I don’t even know what that means. Send help?

Then again, if the pictures are anything to go by, perhaps I am not the target demographic. So the next one should definitely be for me, then. It’s Gilly Hicks – ladies’ underwear that is apparently specifically Australian.

I think this is the first time in this brochure that someone has had their nips covered up.

I think this is the first time in this brochure that someone has had their nips covered up.

So, Gilly Hicks is apparently the “cheeky cousin” of A&F, is inspired by the “free spirit of Sydney” and makes knickers for the “young, naturally beautiful and always confident”. If we’re not naturally beautiful or perpetually confident, does that mean that we’re not allowed to wear the undies? Because aside from the implication that you need to be naturally beautiful to buy (something I will come back to later), I do not know a single woman who is ALWAYS confident. And I say that as someone who REALLY likes their own face.

Lastly, we have Hollister. Hollister boy is the only model wearing a t-shirt in this pamphlet, which makes me wonder what he’s hiding.

Poor Hollister boy.

Poor Hollister boy.

Once again, the words “effortlessly cool” are used to describe the brand, which makes me think that they’re putting a lot of work into something that should be effortless. “It’s all about hot surfers and beautiful beaches. Young and sexy with a sense of humour, Hollister never takes itself too seriously.” Judging by the look on that model’s face, I would say that Hollister takes itself very seriously. Either way, they aim to “bring Southern California to the world.”

The next chapter is Company Growth.

We smile.

We smile.

The happy smiley lady accompanies a page on the direction A&F is taking with their shopping experience. I think this is my favourite part:

“Regardless of location, all of our stores have an exciting, fun and high energy environment, reinforced by great looking, talented people who share our committment and passion for the brand. Our in store experience appeals to the six senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, Taste and Energy… The customer is greeted by great-looking, friendly models who offer excellent customer service…”

Right. Couple of things A&F. First of all, your committment to hiring people who are better looking than me is not an appealing point for your store. Also, it seems kind of morally reprehensible to put that in your manifesto for prospective employees, especially since your prescriptions for “great looking” seem pretty narrow judging by the people you’ve chosen to put in this booklet. Like… they’re all very good looking, but they all kind of look roughly similar. Especially the boys. Secondly, there are not six senses. And if, theoretically, there were six senses, the sixth sense would not be “energy”. It is stupid and you sound stupid.

The next chapter is Social Responsibility.

Snapshot_20130319_10

I almost fell over sideways when I read this because the idea that Abercrombie and Fitch is a thoroughly socially responsible brand is ridiculous. Under the heading of “Diversity and Inclusion” A&F lists its achievments, which include a scholarship program, a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index, making it officially LGBT-friendly and a bunch of charitable donations. There’s also some stuff about sustainability. But let’s be real, Abercrombie and Fitch has like, the WORST human rights record known to man. They’ve been accused of firing staff or refusing point blank to hire them for refusing to remove their hijab, they’ve been involved in several accusations of sexual harrassment by models, they’ve been fined for failing to accommodate disabled customers, there was a $40 million class action law suit for discrimination against black, Latino and Asian workers. The list goes on and on. I fail to see how that’s socially responsible. But all of that is helpfully left out of the little book, so I guess you can pretend it’s not happening.

The next chapter is Store Opportunities, which basically just talks about what you need to do to be eligible for the store program, which include “diversity awareness” and a bachelor’s degree. (Possibly also some moral blinkers but whatever.) What was the point of this blog? That Abercrombie and Fitch is terrible with a very narrow idea of beauty that’s laid out in black and white in their graduate program and I’m not even sure how that’s legal. Don’t fucking shop there. It’s the worst.

Vomit.

Vomit.

Also, I hope you really enjoyed my narcissistic selfies throughout this post. Suck it Abercrombie and Fitch. I’m fucking adorable.

Ladies! Ladies Everywhere!

This post was going to be a review of Oz the Great and Powerful, but given that it’s International Women’s Day (or, as a lovely lady on my Facebook called “We Could All Be Beyonce Day”), I thought I would take the opportunity to celebrate some fabulous ladies that you should all be paying attention to. To be honest, this list will probably include Beyonce at some point, but I’ll try to avoid it because realistically, we’re all looking at Beyonce already, quiety waiting for her to announce her benevolent dictatorship over us meer mortals. Without further ado, I present: LADIES!

  1. Angel Haze – All hail the new queen of my heart. Seriously though, I have been hammering her album Reservation like nobody’s business. She’s an interesting character too. She was raised in the Pentecostal Great Apostolic Faith until she was 15 when her mother had a falling out with the church’s leaders. She now describes it as a cult. She garnered a lot of attention for her rewrite of Eminem’s Cleaning Out My Closet, which is essentially a graphic detailing of the sexual abuse she suffered throughout her childhood. It’s amazing and you can listen to it here, but I wouldn’t judge you if you didn’t. It’s brutal and honest and terrifying. She says the reason she wrote the song was to make sure that everyone felt disgusted – “I want someone who’s a father to listen to the song, and be like: ‘No one had better ever fucking touch my daughter like that. And if they do, you can tell me.'” If you looking for something a little less heavy that still packs a punch, anything on Reservation will do you. I am particularly fond of Gypsy Letters.
  2. Marjane Satrapi – Have you read Persepolis? If not, why not? It’s really good. Like, REALLY good. It’s a autobiographical graphic novel that was later made into an animated film, which is also really good. Obviously, Marjane Satrapi has done other stuff, like just generally being kind of a badass, but Perspolis is probably a good starting point. It follows her childhood in Iran, giving a child’s interpretation of the changing political climate and follows her throughout her teenage years in Vienna, including a bout of homelessness. If I told you any more I would be giving away the plot, but yeah. Go look at her.
  3. Lyn-Z and Kitty – They’re fresh in my mind because I saw them a week or ago, but I can’t tell you how much I love the two ladies from Mindless Self Indulgence. Lyn-Z is the kind of badass who is dressed in a mini-skirt and boots, playing a bass guitar and then is suddenly crowd-surfing. Kitty is legit one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen and is just fucking adorable at the same time. They’re the main reason I started listening to Mindless Self Indulgence and by God did I want to be one of them (both of them?) when I grew up. I’m still waiting, to be honest.
  4. Quvenzhane Wallis – This little cutie is the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild. She’s 9 years old and an Oscar Nominee, which should be enough for people just to be impressed with her. Unfortunately, because people are kind of shit, she’s ended up copping the brunt of every terrible two-bit comedy sketch in town, usually about something highly original like her name. Let me ask you, lame-joke-making-asshole: did you have an Oscar nomination when you were 9? No? Then shuttup. No one is here for your shit.  Quvenzhane has been fantastic about the whole thing. She’s even in a video teaching people who to pronounce her name.

    If you ever get sad, go watch a 9 year old accepting a Critic’s Choice award. It’s beautiful, she’s beautiful and I won’t hear a bad word said against her.
  5. Yoon Mi-rae – Look, realistically, this blog just should have been called “Alex celebrates International Women’s Day by writing about her favourite lady rappers” but it isn’t. It’s about badass women, so I can still have more than one female rapper on there because shuttup it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want. Anyway, Tasha Reid AKA Yoon Mi-rae is a singer rapper for The Movement. She was born in the States to a Korean mother and African American father. She raps fluently in Korean and English (I love a lady who can make bilingual puns) and she tackles some pretty heavy lyrical content, particularly with regard to racism and discrimination. Her husband, Tiger JK, is also a rapper but adores her so much that he frequently derails interviews to talk about how great she is. I’m on his side. She’s pretty great. This is her latest single with MFBTY (which allegedly stands for My Fans Better Than Yours, but is more likely to stand for Mother Fucking Bizzy Tiger Yoon Mi-rae, which covers all three members of the group).

Right, that’s it. I’m out. Bonus mentions for Beyonce for being Beyonce. Also, this was going to go up yesterday, but I got sidetracked so you get it a day late. Sorry.

I Demand My Right to Nip Slips

The Grammy Awards are coming up. I love the Grammy Awards. They are a ridiculous show of back patting and circle-jerking and, perhaps more importantly, they’re not as classy as the Oscars, so celebrities feel free to chuck on whatever ridiculous shit they feel like and call it fashion. There’s boobs and butts and boners everywhere and it’s wonderful. But the grinches over at CBS want to take all of that away from us. They have sent an email out to various people connected to the Grammys  guest list detailing exactly what they don’t want to see in 2013’s fashion frollicks.

  • “Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered.”
  • “Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy undercurves of the buttocks and buttock crack.”
  • “Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.”
  • “Please ensure that the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”
  • “Foreign language on the wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where Lil Kim can’t show up to the Grammys and accept an award wearing nipple pasties as a dress.

Or a world where Diana Ross can’t then lend a hand on stage to support Kim’s one stray boob.

Does CBS not realise that the only reason people tune in to watch their boring-ass awards ceremony is for moments like these? That the rest of the ceremony is actually, as I said before, just a circle-jerk and none of the television watching public actually gives a shit?

As usual, the other thing that totally irritates me about this list is the fact that the whole thing is entirely directed at making sure that women aren’t “too sexy”. They actually emphasise the fact that we’re not allowed to expose “female breast nipples” or “the bare sides or under curvature of breasts.” Is it just me, or does that seem awfully specific? But then as soon as we get below the belt, they’re scared to say the word “vagina” – it becomes “puffy bare skin exposure”. I like to imagine the gentleman who wrote this as being fascinated by the word nipple, but struggling to come to terms with how to describe the labia. “Guys, guys! You know those things. The things ladies have? Yes the hoo-hoo. How would we describe the bits of the hoo-hoo, guys? Pillowy? No sounds too entincing. We don’t want to entice anyone. Heavens no! We can’t say vagina! Get out, Stevens! You’ve always been a wild card. Puffy? Puffy, works.”

Ladies, take notes: you have to look sexy, that’s a given, but it can’t be too sexy because we don’t want to offend anyone, but we also don’t want your outfits to be so boring that everyone gets slammed in the press and no one watches the show, so what we need you to do is find that elusive land directly in the middle of “virgin” and “whore” and if you cock it up we’ll crucify you.

I think Richard Marx summed it up better than I can really:

Richard Marx

Yeah, that’s right kids. Chris Brown is performing again this year. Enjoy!

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