Last summer, a fun little romp of a song was all over the radio. (I didn't hear it until the fall, since I keep my radio tuned to classic rock.) The song was by Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell, and was called "Blurred Lines."
Since I only listen to classic rock (on the radio at least--my Spotify playlists can be described as eclectic at a minimum, crossing both genres and centuries), I'm not sure if this song is even still being played. Between the plagiarized melody and the creepy lyrics, I was happy to hear it a couple of times, roll my eyes, say "Yuck" and move on.
However, this song still has something of a shelf life. According to this rather patronizing article, this song is still being played and still pissing us off. Apparently, a campus pub was playing the song, a student complained that it was offensive, and the school took action, barring the song from the pub.
For those of you who spent 2013 under a rock, here is the video:
For those of you not distracted by bright red hashtags and oversized dice, the message is pretty obvious. The "blurred line" in question is between consensual and non-consensual sex. Because any girl who goes to a club and dances with a guy after a drink or two wants to sleep with him.Some have criticized the reaction as being overblown, including Cathy Young, whose article I linked to above. But give a listen. Really give a listen. Besides "I know you want it," which has almost become a cliché in rape culture, the song talks about "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two" and "Do it like it hurt." That sounds degrading on a good day. But for me, the innocent opening lyrics really frame this. "If you can't hear what I'm trying to say/...Maybe I'm going deaf." Yes, you are. A dance does not equal a proposition. Even Internet music critic Todd in the Shadows said the song had a "rapey" vibe to it. All three artists have deflected criticism by saying how much they respect women. After all, they're married men! And as we all know, married men never rape women...oh wait a minute.
Now, we do have a First Amendment, and artists should be free to express themselves as they please. But it takes a discerning audience to distinguish good art from bad. And I draw a very not blurry line at songs that degrade women, call them "animals" and think that it's OK to "smack your ass and pull your hair like that."