Robin Thicke is a singer-songwriter who has been around for a while now. He sang under the moniker ‘Thicke” for a while, and is known in the industry as Discount Timberlake or Douchebag Bublé. Apologies to any fans, but I hadn’t heard of Thicke until I was shown the video for his single ‘Blurred Lines’.
I had a few problems with it.
There’s a pretty strong trend of misogyny in popular music, but this is some next level shit. For those of you who didn’t watch the video link above, it essentially consists of Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. (fully clothed) dancing against a blank background with some random props and young women (not fully clothed). I’m gonna mainly focus on the version of the video that isn’t on YouTube, which is almost identical to the mainstream version, bar one small detail.
All of the women are now topless. It’s fine though, because Thicke got ‘permission from his wife’. Seriously.
The three models from the original video are now naked bar some flesh coloured pants. What does this bring to the video, I hear you cry? What statement are they making on wider society? For one, stop interrupting me. And two, stop being naïve. It’s to bring in teenage boys, gigantic unexplained hashtags of his own name, and discomfort. And goats, for some reason.
It could be that the ‘daring’ video is an excuse to hide lyrics that imply Robin Thicke may not have actually seen a woman before. Consider the lines ‘Ok now he was close, tried to domesticate you/But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature’. Now I don’t know about you, but when I put on my late Victorian safari gear and embark on an expedition to bag a wench, I find that after you ensnare one with a trail of shoes, domesticating them is the hardest part.
Mr Thicke may allow his wife to roam free in the garden, bringing him small birds and mice when she makes a kill, but the rest of us prefer our other halves to at least be housetrained.
Obviously Thicke couldn’t allow any of these women to be too empowered for any stretch of time, so he decides to tell one she is ‘the hottest bitch in the place’ by literally screaming it in her face.
All Pharrell can do in the meantime is stand in the background and add the occasional “hey, hey, hey” like a tipsy, vaguely disapproving uncle.
Around the halfway stage, in comes T.I., changing the tempo like a pathetic, immature hurricane. For the whole duration of the video he seems to have wandered in by mistake: none of the models seem to want to touch him, and even during his solo nobody wants to make eye contact. He calls them all bitches, and threatens to slap them and pull their hair.
At one point, he expresses a desire to ‘tear your ass in two’. AHH?!?! What the hell, man? T.I.’s on the loose, tearing butts apart with his bare hands, presumably to add to his collection, and NO ONE is trying to stop him?! That’s screwed up. At least he clarifies all this by saying ‘Not many women can refuse this pimpin’/But I’m a nice guy’. So that’s alright then.
Post awful rap breakdown, comes the video’s crowning achievement.
I could’ve just left that image and not said anything, but it is fascinating. Robin Thicke must have some serious reassurance issues. The average viewer isn’t now going to think “Well, if the attractive woman said so in the video he commissioned, it must be true! I commend you on your spectacular member, sir.” All this has is the opposite effect. It’s like he paid his wife to come forward and say it was the biggest she’d ever seen. But hey, at least nobody else uses the platform of music to boast about their sexual prowess.
The whole thing would be slightly bearable if the women at least looked like they were enjoying it. Unfortunately, they all look dead behind the eyes. I don’t blame them.
I’ve since heard the argument that the title is a deliberate reference to how nudity and sexism are portrayed in music. Colour me stupid, but if that’s the case, that incredibly subtle notion sailed over my head, and the whole thing stinks of ‘let’s cover our asses’ (or not). But hey, maybe it’s not all bad. Who am I to argue with the lyrical genius behind the line “You wanna hug me?/What rhymes with hug me?”.