Unless you’ve managed to find a cave completely without television, radio or internet, you’ve probably heard “Blurred Lines”, the immensely huge hit of R&B crooner Robin Thicke, a thousand times over.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of 36-year-old Thicke, it’s hard to deny the song’s appeal. The incredibly danceable beat, courtesy of producer Pharrell Williams, is one that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks. I just got it out of my head.
The song is not without its critics though, for good reason. The first murmurs of controversy came four months when an unrated music video hit the internet through YouTube. It featured Thicke, Pharrell and rapper T.I., singing, rapping and having a ball while surrounded by topless models in various suggestive actions.
Not surprisingly, it took YouTube no time to take down the video. They have since released a new version of the same video where the models are scantily clad rather than nude. The unrated version can still be found on Vevo’s website.
Many people consider the video to be offensive and exploitative of the women featured and it’s not hard to see why. The video honestly has no plot. It’s a bunch of nearly naked ladies standing around, occasionally doing risqué things while the men around them party it up. And that’s not even including the lyrics.
In addition to its music video, “Blurred Lines” has some pretty questionable lyrics. Once you get past all the Pharrell-voiced “Hey hey heys”, which are either a poor attempt at cat-calling or a Fat Albert reference, the lines are fairly weak. At one point, Thicke tries to rhyme “hug me” with “hug me”, while alluding to a certain four letter word. Perhaps five previous albums sapped him of his creativity.
On top of the groovy beat, Thicke swaggers his way through an attempt to hit on a seemingly taken woman. He tries to tell her about how her man isn’t right for her, y’know, all the usual themes.
All of a sudden you get here: “I hate these blurred lines/ I know you want it (3x)”. These lyrics have been interpreted as being, at the very least, presumptuous, while others read it as leading towards something non-consensual.
Thicke addressed the criticism, of the music video in particular.
“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,’” Thicke said in an interview with GQ in May.
Thicke has since said that his words were a joke that was taken out of context. He was recently featured on the Today Show, where he said that “Blurred Lines” is, in fact, a “feminist movement within itself.”
The problem is not simply with Thicke’s lyrics or his music videos, but with how easily the issues are dismissed. Perhaps you can argue that a man that has been in a relationship with the same woman since they were in high school doesn’t know how to write as a single guy. But I can’t entertain that thought for too long.
Maybe the song was written in fun. The music could certainly suggest that. And perhaps Thicke’s words were taken out of context during his interview. It could’ve been a joke.
But if that’s his idea of a joke, then I’m sorry Robin. I don’t want it.
Nia Prater can be reached at Nia.Prater@temple.edu.