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Oct. 27, 2013

NewsChips: Crossed Lines

by Zoe Johnson, Online Editor-in-Chief
You know the song. It's catchy, it has a great beat and it has made Robin Thicke a worldwide sensation. It is also the source of massive controversy: from the MTV Video Music Awards performance with Miley Cyrus to allegations of the song excusing rape culture, "Blurred Lines" has alienated as many people as it has attracted.

Recently, five UK universities' student unions banned the song from campus bars. Due to the song's explicit nature and objectification of women, the students felt that playing it would be implicit acceptance of those ideas. The song's language and its implications make it a glorification of and excuse for unacceptable behavior, touching on issues of sexual consent, respect for women and misogynistic principles.

"Blurred Lines" single cover. Courtesy of Wikimedia
"Blurred Lines" single cover.
While not everyone finds it offensive, many Blazers believe the song is sending that type of message. "I thought the 'Blurred Lines' part meant mixed signals from girls," senior Isabelle Brown said. "It's like taking the chance on a girl, seeing if you can get her." Others understand it in more explicit ways. "Robin Thicke is trying to get it," freshman Daniel Jones said. "The message is that girls are confusing but sex is nice."

When reviewing the lyrics, certain implications come to light. Thicke develops a contradiction in his stereotype of women, singing, "you're a good girl" and "you're an animal," but are those really the only two things women can be? For that matter, while Thicke focuses on contrasting the 'good girl' and the 'animal,' he forgets that there's a better word for describing women: human.

Not animals, not expletives. Humans. Thicke sings, "it's in your nature/just let me liberate you."
Translated, all that's saying is it's natural to want sex, so if a woman doesn't want sex, it's obviously just because she's repressed and needs a guy to help her out. Or, you know, maybe she just genuinely doesn't want to have sex.

Which leads to the issues with "the way you grab me/must wanna get nasty." With consent, one thing doesn't lead to another. A woman grabbing someone does not necessarily mean she wants to get nasty. Never assume consent. One lyric encapsulates the biggest problem with "Blurred Lines" the line "I know you want it." Regardless of how it's meant, it has an inevitable association with rape culture because of the implication that if a guy already knows a woman wants to have sex, he won't bother to get consent. Now, maybe he knows she wants it because she told him. Or maybe he's just guessing. But when it comes to consent, there is no room to make mistakes.

Thicke has defended the song, claiming that it was written for his wife Paula Patton, and that the title refers to the blurred lines between what's appropriate and what's not. (Indeed, it's fairly evident Thicke doesn't understand the line between appropriate and not). His father, actor Alan Thicke, has also championed the song, claiming that it's meant to be a female empowerment anthem. Both men have said that the artists have nothing but the utmost respect for women. However, if Thicke respects women, he should be writing respectful lyrics that make his feelings obvious, not offensive lyrics that make him sound like a rapist.

Thicke has tried to write the lyrics off as a joke. "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,' " Thicke said, in an interview with GQ. But the degradation of women is a serious problem globally, with one in three women experiencing physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives, which makes Thicke's 'joke' decidedly not funny.

Still, despite the undeniably sketchy nature of the lyrics, it's hard to say that it's specifically about rape culture. Certain lines, in fact, support Thicke's claim that the song is supposed to be empowering ("that man is not your maker," "can't let it get past me/you're far from plastic"). However, regardless of Thicke's intentions, the song's language and its implications make it completely unacceptable. "I think it's disturbing because it encapsulates and exemplifies how much rape culture has been standardized into American culture," junior Natalie Behrends said. "It's disgusting and offensive."

Thicke saying that the song isn't offensive because he actually respects women is like someone saying that rape jokes are funny because they would never rape someone. It's just not true.



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  • A male senior on October 28, 2013 at 12:09 PM
    Good article. I wholeheartedly agree; Blurred Lines really pisses me off. I mean, it's bad enough for some whack job to write a song that glorifies his misconceptions and wishful thinking about women, but the fact that nowhere along the line, from conception, to production, to release, did anyone at Interscope records say, "Hey, this is pretty messed up," is sickening. And people just ate it up! It's the best selling song of this year!

    No hope left for the human race, y'all. You heard it first at Blair.
  • Agree on October 28, 2013 at 8:35 PM
    Nice article. Not sure whether the message is even "implicit," seems pretty explicit to me. The song is catchy, but I have no idea how he got away with writing a song claiming that all women secretly "wanna get nasty." You didn't mention the lines where TI says that he's "nothing like your last guy, he too square for you/he don't smack that *** and pull your hair like that." The song goes so far as to condemn non-violent sex. Let's just say Interscope should've been out of it's comfort zone at that.
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