On the day of, perhaps, the biggest Eagles game in half a decade… on a day where I have a ton of housework to do… on a day where I should be working on 3 or 4 other projects… I find myself pontificating on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and the entire Blurred Lines album. While I can’t say that I know why this is preoccupying my mind at this moment, I can say that the subjects and themes surrounding the oversexed Thicke tunes and the controversy of what his words mean to this nation’s rape culture are more than worth exploring.
In an interview with the BBC, Thicke said: “I don’t think people got it out here in the UK in those positions of power. I think the kids get it. I just have to deal with that. I wrote it about my wife. She’s my good girl. And I know she wants it because we’ve been together for 20 years so I can vouch for that.”
I start with this quote because it starkly opposes the presuppositions and vitriol that most of us are well aware of at this point. Bloggers, media types, and journalists all of the world have ripped into Thicke for promoting the rape culture, inferring that no means yes, and being a 40 year old that is hell bent on banging 20-something in the clubbed whether or not they consent to it (or at least insinuating that he’d like to). This quote immediately put a seed of doubt out there because he’s tell us all that he’s talking about his wife, whom he knows more intimately than anyone else in this world.
Does that change the perception of the song or what it promotes? No, I suppose it doesn’t. But maybe this 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.
Could the oversexualized nature of the song, and the album as a whole, truly be Thicke’s way of starting a conversation? It wouldn’t be the first time that someone used the very thing that they were interested in questioning as the star of the show. Wes Craven, for example, believed Last House on the Left to be a protest film, protesting the violence of war by showing subversive acts of ultraviolence on the screen. The methods of Craven were certainly questionable and, if he intended a similar idea with his album, Thicke’s methods are equally so. But both Craven and Thicke created national and global conversation on societal ills, those of horrific violence and oversexed culture.
I approached this entire album for the first time just this week, as I’ve been developing my best albums of 2013 list. And, having found that this album is a pop masterpiece in many ways, I posted about it on my Facebook. A friend of mine who is a great mind in regards to understanding pop culture and also serves as a pastor in Philadelphia told me that he agrees that the album is a fantastic pop album but that the message is too daunting for him to endorse the album. I feel similarly, but I also wonder if there are another 25-30 pop albums in the past handful of years that I should write off for the same reason.
It’s more than fair to question Thicke’s motives for the song. In all likelihood, the only real motive is money… and controversy creates attention… and attention creates sales… and sales create wealth… so…
Either way, if you can watch the below video and not enjoy it, I’ll buy you a Diet Coke.