These Lines Really Aren't So Blurry ...

Robin Thicke's latest song, "Blurred Lines," a No. 1 hit, has raised some controversy, but is it the song, or the video, or both that offend? Thicke has been compared to Justin Timberlake, but Timberlake's latest singles are much more romantic than the blatant come-hithering of Thicke's song, where he is abetted in his attempted seduction by Pharrell Williams and T.I.


The song is undeniably catchy, a perfect summer radio hit. But when you are stopped in traffic, some of the more questionable lyrics may sneak through the bouncy grooves:

"You the hottest bitch in this place
I feel so lucky
Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey"

and

"... I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two ..."

Nothing blurry about those lines, or the blow-up silver letters in the video taped to a wall that proclaim, "Robin Thicke has a big dick." Subtle.

I didn't find the video particularly seductive or shocking, just kinda dumb. It actually works against the song, which is hard not to like. But the three lovely topless ladies featured in the video just seem bored or embarrassed — they keep trying to cover their breasts, with their hands or other incongruous objects. They look more comfortable, even more sexy, in the shots when they are clothed. The three dudes, predictably, look like they are having the time of their lives. Watching three gorgeous, bored, mostly naked models. Rock and roll.


The real question about Blurred Lines is not whether the lyrics or the video is offensive, but if this sort of "romantic" approach really works in the real world. And why did Williams and Thicke feel the need to push the envelope? The song starts out maybe not innocently, but typically enough, with Thicke trying to convince a girl in a club to drop her guy for him:

"OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you're an animal, baby, it's in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don't need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker"

A guy on the make, for sure, but not threatening. Pop music is, frequently, one long seduction or persuasion. Madonna could be just as demanding a potential lover as Thicke & Co.: 

Open your heart
I'll make you love me (come on baby)
It's not that hard
If you just turn the key (I'm gonna get to you)

Where feminists start to get uncomfortable with "Blurred Lines" is the "I know you want it," chorus, which directly references rape scenarios — "She was asking for it." Maybe not the artists' intentions, but maybe ... We talk about consensual sex being the ideal situation, but there is always a give-and-take. There are countless (beloved) art and pop culture examples of men trying to "break down" a girl's resistance and give in to his charms.

"And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You're a good girl
Can't let it get past me
You're far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines"

Maybe that is what is most disturbing about "Blurred Lines." The battle of the sexes is frequently a true battle. And for many, sex, even romance, is not complete unless someone gives in and lets the other person be the victor. Not exactly blurred lines, but lines drawn in the sand.

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