Can you relate to this scenario? You’ve been flirting with someone for weeks, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. They’re obviously interested, but for whatever reason, they don’t want to do anything about it. Yet they keep giving you just enough attention to stop you from giving up hope that the flirtation will lead to anything more.
Or what about this situation? You have a crush that doesn’t fit with your image, or your own sense of what or who you thought you liked. Actually hooking up with this person would change what everyone (including you) thinks about you, so you resist – but deep down, you know you want it, so to speak.
I always thought “Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke’s catchy and controversial hit song, was about this kind of situation. I interpreted his message as “Admit that you’re into me, because your mixed signals are confusing.” Kind of like this:
But maybe I’m going deaf. Maybe I’m going blind. Maybe I’m out of my mind.
Because people really disagree with me. Apparently this song is “rapey”.
The song is about “liberating” a good girl by showing her that she actually wants “crazy wild sex” that she isn’t asking for.
The Norwegian blogger Undre writes (in Norwegian, my translation):
It all sounds like a recipe for rape. “Grey areas” you know. Difficult stuff. *hirr*
(Undre also translated the lyrics into Norwegian).
“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.”
Or maybe, it’s just about how a girl wants crazy wild sex but doesn’t say it… And that is all.
Here’s the top comment on the uncensored version of the video, proving that I’m not completely alone here:
Blurred lines are interesting: Sometimes you don’t know if you want to sleep with someone or not. Sometimes you don’t know if the person you think you’re flirting with actually likes you, or if that’s just how they talk. To me “blurred lines” could be that confusing grey area just before you actually start dating someone. This is good material for pop song lyrics. Before seeing the video and reading blog posts about this, I didn’t think there was anything unusual about “Blurred Lines”.
But maybe people are really just as upset about the video as they are about the lyrics:
“Robin Thicke is a dick because in his music video there are three topless models who prance around like objects while Pharrel and Robin Thicke stay fully clothed.”
First, excuse my comfortable, casual attitude to nudity. I’m Scandinavian; our children’s entertainment has enough of that to get censured by YouTube.
Second, since you don’t think of these girls as objects, maybe you’d like to know what they think. Emily Ratajkowski, one of the models in the video, says:
“Pop music is great, but there’s a lot of BS about the attitude of guys being super-gangster — that’s why the whole thing is silly. It’s making fun of itself.”
Personally, I don’t think the video works as social commentary or parody. To paraphrase Callie Beusman in Jezebel: Meta-nudity is not (yet?) a thing. The real point of the video is to sell music by being controversial, and the best response if you hate it, would be to ignore it.
There is a lot of social commentary inherent in this still from the video:
… but that is another more complex story, which deserves its own blog post. For now, I’ll just say:
I don’t like the term “rapey”, just like I don’t like the term “unwanted sexual advances”. These terms put everything from staring to whistling to actual rape into the same category, as if there isn’t a huge difference.
Rape should have nothing to do with blurred lines. No individual case of sexual assault or abuse is ever the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what she wore or what she drank. But just like no means no, “I want to have sex with you,” doesn’t mean rape.
In my mind, “Blurred Lines” is a challenge. It’s a guy telling a girl “I think you want me. I urge you to make up your mind and tell me yes or no.” In my mind, he will back off if he gets a clear “no” answer. I wish we lived in a world where we could safely assume that was always the case.
Oh, and here’s a lyric about actual rape, for the sake of comparison.
The “choose a side”-source is unknown. I found it on Pinterest.