The controversy of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” isn’t just about Miley Cyrus (which I really don’t care about, and yes I know one of the early installments in this series was a defense of one of her songs–I just don’t care about the MTV Music Awards) and a lawsuit by the Marvin Gaye estate. None of that is really in BW’s wheelhouse. I look at the story itself, and while this song doesn’t qualify as a story even by song standards, I thought the controversy was at least worth looking at.
The video is an official karaoke posting from Vevo so I’m guessing they got the words right. Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell’s voice tracks are missing so we can focus more on the words than usual and it’s not like the song isn’t all over the radio right now.? I did compare with the uncensored version to make sure nothing’s missing, so this is the song in all it’s questionable glory.
Let’s all agree at least that this song is about our boys trying to convince some “good girls” to be not so good. Now I hate songs like this, even ones with as an admittedly good beat as “Blurred Lines”. The main reason is it’s the kind of person who insists that you didn’t really choose your lifestyle, that someone else is making you do it and you’re just a conformist. I’ve made my position on rebels and conformists clear already.
What I haven’t gotten into are people who insist you really want to be like them when that ISN’T the case. Some people are quite happy not living the party scene. Heck, I went to clubs and while I did my share of dirty dancing it was never in my nature to go home with some woman I barely know and have hot sex. That explains why I had few phone numbers from women there I think, beyond my usual shyness. Really, the boys’ characters (all happily married men in real life they claim) are just after turning a “good girl” for the “brownie points”. I don’t think they care about the girls at all, and getting wild as on the dance floor, as I’m exhibit “A”, doesn’t mean you want to get wild in bed. Maybe they’re just out to loosen up without “being loose”. Don’t think of that do you, guys?
But the real controversy about “Blurred Lines” is described in this Wikipedia quote:
Critics such as Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast suggested that the song and the music video trivialize sexual consent. She charges that many female fans were uncomfortable with both the song and the video. Her article quoted many critics who interpreted the song’s message as being promotion of rape culture because the title “Blurred Lines” and portions of the lyrics like “I know you want it” encourage the idea “no doesn’t always mean no” and that some women who are raped are asking for it.
We’re not going to talk about the video, we’re looking at the song itself. I can certainly see the concern about promoting rape culture at a time when what little advancement we’ve made in getting the problem of rape treated seriously seems to have backslided. I don’t thing this verse helps, either.
Pre-chorus: Robin Thicke]
Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me Dakota to Decatur, uh huh
No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning
Hey, hey, hey
Here’s our beginning
I don’t think Robin Thicke intended this line to show a promotion of “date rape drugs”, but in the verse’s defense he could be taking it too, like Ecstasy. Or it could be pot, a drug used for partying. Obviously he’s trying to get this girl to sleep with him and he could be convincing himself she just needs to cut loose and really wants to. The thing is this song is missing any response from the objects of their pursuits. They don’t seem to be countering an argument the ladies are making, and there have been songs the character acknowledges something the other party says before launching a counter-argument. That isn’t here so we don’t know how the women are reacting to these guys’ clumsy, probably drunk or high (or both) advances.
Does that mean listeners are reading too much into the lines? Well, nothing really refutes it, either. Again, there is no response from the good girls. We don’t know what they’re thinking. It’s all about the guys’ pick-up lines and the women in the video are just walking around, dancing with the guys, and carrying various props around. They’re just…there, and really if they weren’t singing you’d say the same for the guys. So this one really is open to interpretation, which under the circumstances is honest cause for concern since “rape culture” sadly is an issue.
So did we answer any questions? Probably not but I’m sure it wasn’t intended as it comes off. I am curious to see what Kidz Bop is going to do with this song. 😀