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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Read Between the Lines

I lack curiosity in the realm of music. Living in Austin has reignited a passion for creative and undiscovered music, but I'm lazy and still listen to mainstream radio. If you have ears and live in the United States, you have probably heard Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke 15 times too many. I'll admit, Blurred Lines is catchy (which is why it is played all the time). But, I cringe when Thicke sings just let me liberate you and I couldn't watch the music video without feeling nauseous. Blurred Lines is a misogynistic song. But it isn't the only song of the degrading genre. Hundreds of music videos feature women with little clothing that function as sex objects for the typically male singer or rapper. A few weeks ago I tweeted "Why is Robin Thicke's sexism especially hard to swallow?" I wasn't asking the right question. I should have asked, why is sexism and misogyny acceptable? Why should I feel obligated to live in a sexist world? Why should things stay as they are?

There are those who feel that the attack on Thicke is unwarranted and even unfair. Well, life and sexism aren't fair #sorrynotsorry. Words and images are critical to how we build our world. If Thicke didn't think his words had power, he would just compose for an orchestra. But Thicke and other musicians know the power of their words. They feel proud when their lyrics are on the tongue of eager listeners. They make millions because people are willing to purchase their words to music. Musicians survive because people enjoy their words. Actors survive because people enjoy their characters. Artists survive because people enjoy their art. Art is political. Saying your art is solely for entertainment is a pathetic excuse for poor judgement. 

I read Thicke's interview with GQ and by the end I was frustrated by his inability to take responsibility for his song. Below is an excerpt from his interview: 
GQ: Some animals also made it into the video...
Robin Thicke: 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." So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, "Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around." After the video got banned on YouTube, my wife tweeted, "Violence is ugly. Nudity is beautiful. And the 'Blurred Lines' video makes me wanna..." You know. And that's the truth. Right now, with terrorism and poverty and Wall Street and Social Security having problems, nudity should not be the issue.
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"Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around." 
Nope. Sorry. Do not pass go. You fail. RAPE CULTURE ALERT. Here is a simple rule: a woman's body is hers. It is not for a man to harass. And yes Thicke, terrorism, poverty and Wall Street are all issues. But your music video isn't about celebrating the female body, it is about reducing her body to your sex toy.

After the video got banned on YouTube, my wife tweeted, "Violence is ugly. Nudity is beautiful. And the 'Blurred Lines' video makes me wanna..." You know. And that's the truth.

This is my favorite part. *please note the sarcasm dripping out of that statement* Paula Patton is not the measure of sexism. Sorry Mr. Thicke, having a wife who likes your song doesn't make you less of a sexist in my eyes. Climbing on my soap box. Saying I have a friend who is (black/brown/gay/female) when you say something discriminatory doesn't make you less of a degrading person. That is a symptom of Tokenism - a horrible disease. Okay, I'm done.

I'm not asking Thicke to become the spokesperson for feminism. I'm not asking him to stop making music. I am asking Thicke to be accountable for his actions and his words. Because words influence our actions. Accountability or responsibility. Call it whatever you want. Take ownership of what you say. Therefore, I am asking you, my lovely readers and friends, to keep me accountable. If I say something sexist, call me out. If I make a joke the marginalizes a group of people based on gender, orientation, race, etc correct me. The division between right and wrong isn't as blurred as we would like to think.



  1. THANK YOU!!!!! The guy is just a sick dude abeg....I did not even know he said all of this and I never liked the song.

    Please can you work on removing the capchta thing? It makes it hard to comment at once. Thanks in advance.

    1. I didn't realize I had word verification on, my apologies!


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