Blurred Lines: The Controversy Continues

The controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines” continues to blow up around Robin Thicke’s summer hit, with the court of public opinion becoming more and more evocative of the PRMC with every damning think piece.

Blogger Lisa Huynh was at the forefront of the outrage when she asked, “Has anyone heard Robin Thicke’s new rape song?” in April. In June, Tricia Romano, discussing the lyrics and equally controversial music video, proposed that “the nudity might be fine if the song was called, ‘Let’s All Have Some Fun,’ but it’s called ‘Blurred Lines,’ and the subject itself is enough to make some female music fans uncomfortable…The song is about how a girl really wants crazy wild sex but doesn’t say it — positing that age-old problem where men think no means yes into a catchy, hummable song.” Romano admits in the same piece, however that “Thicke’s video would barely register on the outrage meter when compared to most garden-variety hip-hop videos featuring bling and babes.”

Director of the “Blurred Lines” music video, Diane Martel gave her two cents on the controversy, stating: “I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men. Look at Emily Ratajkowski [the brunette]’s performance; it’s very, very funny and subtly ridiculing. That’s what is fresh to me. It also forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position. I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous, the guys are silly as fuck. That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful.”

The issues at the heart of this debate share much with the rape joke controversy, Slutist contributor Maheen Kadri points out. “There is an invisible line for certain people. Many comedians have this dilemma. Crossing that invisible line when it comes to rape talk for women, in particular, is always going to be deemed bad (and with good reason). Daniel Tosh had an embarrassing incident when he decided to cross that invisible line into the world of REAL rape jokes. The movie, This Is The End, gives rape-y vibes with a scene where Emma Watson is stuck with a bunch of dudes in James Franco’s house after learning that the end of the world is about to come and thoughts of “potentially” having to rebuild humanity with one woman and several men arise. Once again, this reference is supposed to be comedic. And like me, there are some feminists who believe that rape jokes are not that terrible.”

Writer for The Huffington PostSelena Coppock says, “I am both a comedian and a feminist and I feel torn by this rape joke debate. I have a lot of dogs in this race. As a woman raised by a militant Democrat and a die-hard Republican, I can appreciate the validity and passion on both sides of most issues. My thoughts on the rape joke debate can be distilled down to this: Yes, rape jokes can definitely be funny. But they must be written with imagination, thoughtfulness, and awareness of societal systems and privilege. Some rape jokes are great — they don’t re-victimize the already-victimized characters in a rape dynamic. Rather, they play with expectation and expose the absurdity of the social norms and systems in which we live. Good rape jokes, like any good social commentary, use satire to turn the issue on its head and make you think in a different way than you did before.”

When it comes to comical quips about this highly-charged subject, some might find them offensive, whereas others might find them harmless. But none of it matters in this scenario because Robin Thicke’s music video, “Blurred Lines” and its lyrics do not include any direct or intentional references to sexual assault. The only person doing any physical touching is the woman in the song (“the way you grab me/must wanna get nasty”) and the man’s response to her behavior is not clearly stated and is therefore up for interpretation.

This week, Robin Thicke himself was forced to comment on the debacle, saying, “I don’t want to be sleazy, I’m a gentleman, I’ve been in love with the same woman since I’ve been a teenager. I don’t want to do anything inappropriate.”

Rape-y or not? You decide. The song continues to dominate the summer airwaves, while rape culture sadly rages on.

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