Friday, July 12, 2013

Robin Thicke creates "blurred lines"

Thanks for the second hand smoke Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke's new song is blowing up the billboards with a steadfast hold on the number one position.  Its melody is incredibly catchy and quickly became one of my favorite songs, especially with the falsetto hook of OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you//But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature. It's incredibly hot and sassy, however, I quickly became turned off when I paid more attention to the lyrics.  Thicke is known for being a hypersexualized artist.  His crooning voice is used as an analogy for seduction and their are numerous references to his last name and a certain appendage on his body.  It gives him this bubble where he can say and do whatever he damn well pleases when it comes to referencing sex.

What's complicated about Thicke's song is that it so accurately describes what is considered ok within the relationship scene.  The overall message of "Blurred Lines" is that Thicke sees a woman that he wants to sleep with and he considers her image to be that of a "good girl."  What Thicke dances around in his lyrics is that the woman he continually references never says no but the background lyrics continue to lure the woman to Thicke with a repetitive chant of, you know you want it.  After continued repeats of those lyrics, you get Can't let it get past me//You're far from plastic//Talk about getting blasted//I hate these blurred lines.  So regardless of what this woman is saying, which the listener can presume is her denying his advances, he continually tries to get her to commit to some type of sexual act.  In the second verse, Thicke compliments the woman on her figure by the type of jeans she's wearing but it's quickly followed by you're the hottest bitch in this place.  I'm curious to know if Thicke actually feels that confident in using that line on a woman.  As a young woman, I feel like that remark would quickly receive a "my friends are calling me" type of comment or a slap in the face, depending on its delivery.   He was quick to defend himself in many interviews, saying that he's been in love with the same woman [his wife] since high school, but would he ever treat his wife like this?  

Lyrical genius tips its hat to T.I.'s third verse with a continuation of referring to women as bitches, referencing sexual acts of pulling her hair and smacking her ass, and the cake topper, I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.  Yep, he's a charmer.  The really gross reality is that as far fetched as it sounds, these type of lyrics and how artists/actors hold themselves does reflect on society.  You would think that there would be enough of a distance between the dreamworld of the music industry and the reality of regular life.  However, in college I had a guy text me those exact words and I'm not talking about smacking my ass.

What's probably more disturbing is that Robin Thicke has put concepts of what he likes to consider a grey area and masked it in a catchy song.  Relating a song titled "Blurred Lines" to trying to hook up is relating lack of consent as an ok action.  It's gross, creates a really unbalanced dynamic between people, and also creates an unsafe environment.  Cosmopolitan Magazine did something very similar when they created an article about the grey area of rape.  A magazine that heavily tailors to the female-bodied population, they tip toed around a subject that affects 1 in 4 college aged women.  This type of language, lack of discussion, and approval of masochistic behavior only contributes to that culture.  To make matters worse, take a look at the music video.  The female "dancers" are wearing lingerie and what looks like saran wrap.  In the unrated version they're completely naked and in both, they're either sucking their fingers or running their tongue across their teeth.  So Thicke immediately shows that these girls, despite what they're saying, actually really want to get laid and that they're just sending mixed signals.  In many of the articles or interviews discussing the controversy of his lyrics, many men comment on the fact that a woman directed the music video.  I think this point is null and void, 1). it's the music industry 2). there are several women, especially in politics, who don't look out for the needs of other women.  Going back to the mixed signals concept, maybe some ladies like to be teases, but I think perpetuating the notion that a woman is lying when she says "no" is a dangerous and completely unsafe line to cross.  This only contributes to a culture that lets guys like Thicke let it be known that it's ok to demean women, treat them like property, and completely disregard their right to consent.

I brought this up with my husband and we got into a lengthy discussion about it.  It's no hidden truth that when you introduce alcohol or any type of social environment amongst young people, sex can happen (however, alcohol inhibits someone's ability to give consent).  We discussed how alcohol is often present at these events and two drunk people can end up hooking up.  It happens all the time in high school and college-aged folks.  But if a person is saying, I don't want to do X with you, then it's not ok for them to pressure that person.  The problem is that with Thicke's song, it's from his perspective and this woman is a conquest, not a person (And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl).  By holding the #1 spot on the charts, this type of message gets spread to young people.  Now people may be paying attention to lyrics or they may not, but the likelihood of this song getting played at a party is high.  This is exactly the type of environment where Thicke is encouraging behavior that disregards a person's wishes for someone else's selfish desires.  It's not ok and although I don't believe Thicke directly includes drinking alcohol in his song, the lyrics tip dangerously towards the idea that he is going to do whatever it takes to get this woman or to get her to express her "bad girl" side.

With 87,571,401 views on YouTube, I highly doubt that Thicke will feel negative effects.  One of his responses in a GQ article to the song was, "What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women."  When he received criticism and backlash for the song, he responded,
For me it’s about blurring the lines between men and women and how much we’re the same…and then there’s the other side of it which is the blurred lines between a good girl and a bad girl, and even very good girls all have little bad sides to them.
That message only works with my favorite line [the hook that I mentioned earlier] and probably would have been a great song.  However the song that was produced doesn't stick with celebrating sexuality and encouraging a woman to express her desires, it's a song about conquests.  It's very much a machismo perspective, especially with the music video.  The lyrics explicitly objectify women, regardless of how Thicke chooses to rebute the arguments, there's no misinterpretation with that.

Have you heard Thicke's song or read any of the interviews he's been a part of since its release?  What do you think?    

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  1. I don't think I've ever heard this song, but I must say that I don't listen to a lot of popular pop music for the simple fact that a lot of the lyrics are derogatory toward women and drunken behavior seems to be acceptable. This doesn't make me a prude or a party pooper. I just don't think these are the messages that should be sent out into the world. Have fun! Have a party! But don't promote drunken behavior, destroying people's property, negativity, sexual pressure and things that will ultimately land you in a jail. Good post, Kim!

  2. I had heard this song on the radio several times and thought it was really catchy, and then I listened to the lyrics closer and was pretty creeped out. Unfortunately, I don't think it's really a new problem.

  3. His quote literally made my stomach drop. We should all immediately stop supporting someone who says it is a pleasure to degrade women...or anyone. Really, really good analysis Kim. This is important for all girls to read.

  4. I think he's doing this for shock factor and it's not ok. His songs are usually very sensual, and not exceeding boundaries of consent. I think it's a weird to go from romantic, sexy songs to wild party ones with T.I. contributing lyrics. Thanks for the love Autumn :)

  5. Oh it's definitely not a new problem, but what's different with Robin Thicke is that his songs are very sensual and sexy. It's bedroom music, but this song is deliberately a violation of female consent and treating them like conquests. To go back and forth between those notions sends mixed signals to his listeners and especially the young people who are sponges for this music.

  6. I totally agree. Drunken songs can be fun but the problem is that instead of promoting dialogue, Robin Thicke is saying, "well this is what it actually means..." That in itself sends mixed signals to young people and the media. It says that non-consensual acts and promoting sexuality are one in the same and they are absolutely not.
    I absolutely love the series that we've partnered together on because I think readers can expect more posts like this and a variety of others to come along the way. So excited!! :)

  7. Thank you for writing about this Kimberly - I've been thinking the same thing about this song lately! It's a shame its so catchy. Without people realising they are supporting these ideas when singing or buying his songs!

  8. I quickly liked the song because it's so catchy. I bought it and would hum the melody along with the song and then I started noticing what some of they lyrics actually are. Mixed in-between heavy bass notes, some pretty vulgar stuff is lurking there. Robin Thicke could have created an equally catchy song without promoting violation of a person's consent.