Whose Blurred Line Is It Anyway?

RobinThicke_DailyBeatEarlier in the week I posted a blog entry about Miley Cyrus. Sorry about that.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the song that Miley was “twerking” to was a massive hit called “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I never listen to the radio and I hardly ever pay attention to pop music, so I had no idea this song existed.

An alert blog reader suggested I watch the Blurred Lines video and look into the controversy surrounding the song, and it’s been on my mind a lot the last couple of days for several reasons:

  1. Have you seen the unrated video? Enough said.
  2. It’s a very catchy song. Almost too catchy…
  3. I couldn’t figure out why it was so controversial.

So I asked the reader to explain the controversy to me. I had read a few articles online that said that the song was “rapey,” but I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about.

From my perspective, the song is about flirtation and desire before something happens with a woman, not convincing a woman after the act that she had consented all along. It’s a song about foreplay.

However, the reader had a really great point: She suggested that the song perpetuated a potentially damaging mindset. And she’s totally right. The song’s lyrics repeats the following phrase over and over again:

You know you want it

You know you want it

You know you want it

It’s one thing to see an attractive woman and think, “Golly, I sure hope she wants it!” But it’s quite another to tell yourself over and over (as if to convince yourself it’s true, giving yourself unauthorized permission to do what you think she wants), “She wants it, she definitely wants it. She hasn’t told me she wants it, but she does, she totally does.”

Perhaps, given the popularity of the song, this is an opportunity for both males and females to be more aware of damaging mindsets like that. It’s a reminder to men that even if you’re attracted to someone and they seem attracted to  you, it’s really, really wrong for you to impose what you think they want upon them. Without sober, verbalized consent–to do anything, even just to continue the conversation you’re having with her–you have no right to decide what she wants or act on it. And women, it’s a good reminder for you to know that men can think this way sometimes–even good, decent men. Be aware of our delusions and be blunt about what you want or don’t want.

I’m talking about this along gender lines (and heterosexual ones at that), but I’m sure there are many different versions of this happening. Back in my bar-hopping days, there were absolutely a few times when women were way too aggressive in a way that made me very uncomfortable.

What do you think? Is this a dangerous song? Or is it just a harmless, catchy tune?


6 Responses to “Whose Blurred Line Is It Anyway?”

  1. Darcy says:

    I have the misfortune of not having a connector thing for my iPhone right now, so I’ve been listening to the radio. I think songs like this absolutely ARE harmful. No, they aren’t going to convince someone that it’s ok to go rape someone or something, but there are a lot of things to sing about other than a) you want me and you don’t know it yet; b) let me tell you all the things we will be doing in the privacy of our bedroom tonight; c) I want you because of your *insert body part here* (not literally). I’m sick of hearing such aggressive sexual songs!!! So while I don’t think it’s really harmful, I think people really need to get over it and keep private thoughts and private activities…private.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Darcy–Have you heard the song “Afternoon Delight.” Sometimes I’m surprised to discover innocent sounding oldies that are actually quite sexual!

  2. Arianne says:

    I’ve started having a conversation with my oldest daughter, who likes to listen to the radio, after songs like this that starts, “do you know what this song is about?” The answer is almost always no, but it gives us a vehicle for discussion. With this particular song, what I focused on was the role of alcohol in blurring the lines. “What you feed me drinks for?” And how, when out in public especially, it’s really important to stay sober so that someone else doesn’t get to be the one who decides where your line is.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Arianne–That’s great that you turn songs like this into teaching moments for your daughters. I rarely realize what the lyrics of a song are saying or conveying, so I think I could benefit from those same lessons!

  3. Leandra says:

    Well, I need to go to confession now after watching 30 seconds of that video. I feel dirty. I don’t understand how that’s just ok to be on the internet, for any 12-17 year old child to click “Yes I understand there’s adult content, no my parents aren’t in the room, and yes I can delete my web history when it’s done.” It’s basically soft-core porn, at least what I saw of it. Semi-nudity, strong sexual dialoge, and overtly sexually suggestive. There are literally children watching this, everyday, thinking “Ok, so this is what Robin and Pharrell find ‘sexy and hot’, so I have to be this, do this, wear this, act like this for Johnny in my gym class to like me/want me.” The psychological damage this type of stuff has on teens is astronomical.

    Absolutely this song is harmful, especially to the youth of America who should only be worried about what flavor ice cream they want after dinner and not where they’re going to buy a G-string from so they can be “sexy”. Surprisingly enough, Ashton (actually Chris!) Kutcher had a great speech at the People’s Choice Awards about what the “sexiest thing in the world” actually is! Have you seen it? http://youtu.be/FNXwKGZHmDc

    This horrible atrocity of a “music video” is just yet another sad confirmation that our country (more or less our world) is on the fast track to destroying any remnant of dignity, integrity, or moral compass that America once held strong to. This guy is a 36 year old married man and father of a 3 year old boy and it’s just ok with everyone (including his wife) that he’s dancing around with 3 half-naked chicks singing about having sex with them? I have no words…just prayers for our country.

    P.S. Love the reference to Arrested Development for “Afternoon Delight”! 🙂

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Leandra–Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think I view the video in a slightly different light, though. Sure, there are attractive women prancing around with very little clothing. However, what they’re doing (and what the men are doing) really isn’t sexual at all. They’re kind of just goofing off, and they happen to be topless (kind of like in many foreign countries where it’s standard for women not to wear tops on the beach–that doesn’t make it soft-core porn).

    Granted, the lyrics of the song change the context of the video. There’s no getting around that–when you’re singing about sex and you have scantily clad people in the video, you’re going to view their behavior in a sexual light. I’m just saying that without the lyrics, the video just looks like people hanging out and goofing off. There’s no touching, twerking, grinding, or anything like that.

    Oddly enough, it was Robin Thicke’s wife who suggested that topless models be in the video. Perhaps as a publicity stunt?

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