Hello! It’s been a while. How have you all been?
This summer, Robin Thicke’s single “Blurred Lines” was released to the general public and proceeded to dominate the charts in multiple countries around the world. And why not? It has an infectious rhythm, a moving bass line, and a melody that is fun and unique. The minute that I heard it on the radio, I made it a part of my daily musical routine. In the moment, I had come to enjoy the song for exactly what I thought it was; it only bothered me a little that the lyrics were “rape-y”, because How can a song with such a groove be so bad?? The song did not necessarily restore my faith in humanity, or in my faith of people supporting women on a public level, but it was just too funky for me to worry too much.
It wasn’t until about a month into my Blurred Lines-mania that I came across the original music video. The censored video caught my attention because it emphasized the focus of the song around the appearance of the woman to whom Robin Thicke is referring within the lyrics. But it was the unrated video that unnerved me and shook me from my little reverie of ignorant bliss. To be blunt, the topless models were ogled by the men in the video and placed in a situation of extreme scrutiny due to their sexual actions and bodily exhibitionism. I was worried that these women were acting as role models and “real representations” of how women must look and act to attract the attention of a man.
How pleasantly surprised I was, then, to see that many people had posted parody videos in response to the overall negative messages that they gleaned from Robin Thicke’s original video and lyrics. There are a few that place great import on the aforementioned “rape-y” lyrics of the song and perform a video that criticizes the sexist behavior of men and emphasizes a woman’s right to her body and sexual decision-making skills. Aside from some inflammatory language, I thought that this parody was effective in its message while maintaining a level of satire and humor in its delivery.
I also liked the Mod Carousel version of this song because it remains very true to the structure and representation of the original video, with a few exceptions. Namely, the women are placed in the male roles of the video, and relatively nude male models take the place of the sexual objects. It was not over the top, but I found the gender role-reversal tasteful and just the right amount of bitingly sarcastic in presentation.
One of the best I have seen thus far, however, was the “Defined Lines” video created by New Zealand law students Adelaide Dunn, Olivia Lubbock and Zoe Ellwood. The lyrics are direct, intelligent, and, again, direct. It is a very feminist perspective, but that perspective appropriately addresses a woman’s right to her body, her body image, and how she chooses to be appreciated by men and larger society.
All in all, Robin Thicke was right to receive some criticism from the public about his blatant sexual objectification of women. It is refreshing, though, to see women from all over the world take a stand and expose archaic representations in a progessively changing social environment.