Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”

(Not much about language, but mostly about music, clothing or lack of it, and sexuality. Eventually there will be another shirtless man.)

On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, a story about Robin Thicke’s latest hit song, beginning:

For five weeks in a row, Robin Thicke’s playful, button-pushing song “Blurred Lines” has been the No. 1 song in the country. It’s a catchy piece of summertime pop, but much of the attention came after the premiere of the song’s video, which features Thicke and his male collaborators — the rapper T.I. and the producer Pharrell Williams — strutting for the camera alongside a trio of models. The men are fully dressed. The women, in an “unrated” version of the video, are nearly nude (you can watch the relatively safe-for-work version here). It set off a wave of criticism, and focused attention on the song’s lyrics, which feature the line “You know you want it.”

The nearly-nude NSFW version is here (#1).

(The women’s breasts, including nipples, are shown in this version, but not their pubes, which are covered by flesh-colored panties.)

More from the NPR story:

Is the song misogynistic? Or simply a provocation of the sort that’s been familiar since Edouard Manet painted a nude woman picnicking alongside fully dressed men in 1863? “The controversy comes really from the video, which does involve nakedness, and a lot of playful touching, and weird props and strange stuff,” NPR Music’s pop critic Ann Powers tells Morning Edition’s Renee Montagne. “And it’s funny, it’s fun, but some people think that it’s pushing the line toward even violence against women — at least symbolic violence against women.”

The line “You know you want it” is troubling in this context, because it’s often used by men harassing women sexually (up to and including raping them).

But the music is catchy and the antics mostly look more silly than threatening. Still, …

On Robin Thicke, from Wikipedia:

Robin Charles Thicke (… born September 15, 1977) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. Thicke is a dual citizen, also holding Canadian citizenship through his father, actor, musician and TV host Alan Thicke. Thicke’s albums, which he previously released under the name Thicke, are noted for their feature of a predominantly R&B sound.

Thicke has a handsome face, which is attractively animated in motion. Here he is in repose:


And on the principle of turnabout being fair play, here he is shirtless, with his pants hanging low and with a crotch bulge:


I was hoping to find a photo of Thicke in nothing but skimpy briefs, to maximize the objectification of his body, but no luck on that.

3 Responses to “Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines””

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Commenters on Facebook have not been kind to “Blurred Lines”. A sample:

    GR Kelly: Thicke as pigshit.

    Kathryn Burlingham: the song is about anal sex and slap-you-around sex. and that women are taught that isn’t “nice”. the video mostly reminds me of a picture I once saw of George Burns’ writing studio, with a completely naked woman in it. If I recall correctly, Burns and his male writing buddies would hire a woman to hang out with them naked. so mostly I think these guys (the musicians) hired women to be nude in their video because they could.

    Arne Adolfsen: Ack! I don’t know what’s worse: the bad Prince impersonation or the cheesy, exploitative visuals. And am I alone in seeing this as a latter day riff on Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”?

  2. Twerk time | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] On twerking, on this blog, see here. And on Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, see here. […]

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Franzo Law on Facebook, a pointer to “Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’ Is The ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody Every Grammar Nerd Secretly Wanted”.

    And now on Language Log, Ben Zimmer (“Word Crimes”) on Weird Al’s peeving.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: