A Not So Blurred View Of Thicke’s Blurred Lines

“Has anyone heard Robin Thicke’s new rape song?”

When Lisa Huyne wrote this on her blog (Feminist in L.A.), I wonder, did she know just how much of an impact it would have? The song she’s referring to of course is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.

blurredlines01In case you’ve been living under a rock, no doubt you are very aware of the criticism that Thicke has come under for this song. It has been labeled “Rapey”, “condoning rape’ and one of my favorites, “Supporting and condoning rape culture”. But is it? Is this #1 best selling song truly about something so horrible, so sickening, and so downright illegal?

What “Blurred Lines” In Particular?

It needs to be said that like any piece of art, this song can and does have many meanings. The most common one you’re going to hear about of course is that it’s a song about rape, and how it’s OK to do so. For a start I want to say, don’t be daft, we ALL know it’s not OK to rape someone, under ANY circumstances.

I ask you though, have you stopped and looked at this song from a different point of view? Are you actually open minded enough to put aside your per-conceived ideas and actually accept that there may be a very different meaning to this song?

What if this song wasn’t about rape, but was instead simply about going out and trying to read whether you’re going to get laid, or go home single? That sound you just heard was the prude prejudice club all gasping… yes, I just suggested people out out clubbing because they want to hook up and have sex. Shocking, I know. If you think this doesn’t happen, stop reading, because you’re clearly out of touch with reality!

So I did my research. I read articles, stories, comments, opinions and a TON of late, and I came by a really good article by a popdust poster by the name of Nate Jones.

Jones takes “Blurred Lines” and gives it a fresh new look through open minded, not so rose colored glasses. More importantly, he does it with an open mind, something seriously lacking regarding this particular issue. I encourage you to read his post. His outcome is simple. It’s not a song about rape, but about something that guys and girls experience on a daily basis at clubs around the world; this person I just met, looking so sexy, does he/she want to hook up tonight?

I’m not being sexist. This goes both ways, because as shocking as it might seem, girls like sex just as much as guys, and will actively look to hook up just as much as guys will when out drinking and dancing. How do you know if the person you’re dancing with is of the same mind as you? How do you read that person to find out? How do you read their style of dress, dancing etc correctly? How do you do all that without getting it entirely wrong?

We’re talking about people sending mixed signals here. And i’m not just referencing woman, but men as well. Is Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” simply a confused reference to Mixed Signals?

One Dimensional Controversy. Why This Song?

blurredlines03One of my biggest issue with the common attitude of this song is how it’s become the song to hate, almost as if it’s the trendy thing to do. Do you people out there even know there are many, far worse songs out there, that have received little, of not ANY criticism?

In 1992 Californian Rockers “Sublime” released their “40oz To Freedom” album which featured the song, “Date Rape” which delivered these punchy lyrics:

“Come on babe it’s your lucky date, Shut your mouth we’re gonna do it my way. Come on baby don’t be afraid, if it wasn’t for date rape i’d never get laid.”

To this date that song is one of the most popular Sublime songs. Did they get flames for their lyrics? Not really.

In 1979 DEVO gave us the song “Triumph of the will” in which they sing:

“I’m not a wanker or a banker. I’m not afraid to take a risk. It is the thing females as for when they convey the opposite.”

DEVO clearly did want to “whip it”, with or without permission.

“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails was a major commercial hit, and is considered by many to be (one of) the bands most successful songs. But this song starts with the line

“You let me violate you / You let me desecrate you” and later sings “I want to f— you like an animal”.

“The HIV Song” by Ween, “Rape Me” by Nirvana and “Smack my bitch up” by The Prodigy are just a few more examples of songs that are blatantly more inappropriate than Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” but never received the same level of controversy.

So why this song? Why now, when so many songs major are so incredibly sexual in nature, such as the hugely successful hit by Christina Aguilera, “Dirty”.

“Sweat dripping over my body, Dance and getting just a little naughty
Want to get dirty, It’s about time for my arrival”

and,

“Tight hip huggers (low for sure), Shake a little somethin’ (on the floor)
I need that, uh, to get me off, Sweat until my clothes come off”

From the sounds of it, this song is about a girl who’s gone to a club, spent the night dancing and is looking to hook up.

Or, is she? Is it possible I’m reading into this song the wrong way? Is it also possible that people are reading into “Blurred Lines” in a similar way?

“That Quote” … Allegedly

blurredlines02No doubt you’ve heard that Thicke himself claims that being degrading to women is fun.  Have you read the full quote?  He was talking to an interviewer for GQ Magazine, where he explained that all 3 guys involved in the clip are happily married.  Thicke himself has been with the same women since they were in school – yes, he married his high school sweet heart!  In a BBC Interview, Thicke was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to be sleazy, I’m a gentleman, I’ve been in love with the same woman since I’ve been a teenager,” he said of his wife (and high school sweetheart) Paula Patton. “I don’t want to do anything inappropriate.”.

But let’s talk about that GQ Magazine quote for a little bit.  This is a perfect example of a misread quote gone viral.  The actual quote in full reads as:

“We were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this,'” he told the magazine. “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.”

Isn’t it quite amazing how that quote takes on a whole other meaning when you read it in full?

Censorship Approval

Most countries have some form of legislation that governs what we hear on the radio or see on TV. Every song on the radio must go through an approval process before it can be played to the public. Clearly, “Blurred Lines” got the tick of approval.

Summary

When I listen to this song I don’t hear a song about rape. I don’t hear a song that encourages rape. And I sure don’t hear a song that encourages the abuse of woman in any kind. I hear a catchy song about a guy who’s trying to figure out what his dance partners intentions are.

It’s a creepy song for sure, but that doesn’t make it worthy of the criticism it’s been getting. Music is all about interpretation, and if you listen to that song wanting to hear a song about rape, that’s exactly what you will hear. So please, before you label this song as one thing be sure that it’s not about another.

Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQgJ4TlJGNk

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