So last week I saw the video above performed by Robin Thicke, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots. It was funny to see how they simplified the music. I admit to really enjoying it. Whilst I shared the video with my wife she went to explore what the original video was about and let’s just say she was not best pleased. She proceeded to also share with me the comparisons betwixt the banned video and the one that actually made it past the Youtube and mainstream ‘censors’.
I had seen the original controversy around the video, but to be honest had never paid it too much attention as I tend to prefer Robin’s older material. I decided to dig a bit deeper to see what all the fuss was about.
When one of the first articles I googled suggested that the song was a bit rapey I thought, “Whoah, sleazy yeah, but rapey?” Although I know others will beg to differ
Of course lyrics like “I know you want it” being repeatedly told to a woman does come across as somewhat suspect.
Or “Had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you; So, hit me up when you pass through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” which doesn’t quite lend itself it to some mutual affectation. Am not quite sure it lends itself to being a song about rape directly but there is something to be said for people seeing such a medium as lending itself to rape culture.
Art as a Talking Point.
It is easy to state that privilege allowed Robin Thicke to get away from those who protested so loudly when Rick Ross rapped about slipping a in a molly? How come they were so silent around a popular song that leant heavily into objectification of women and in TI’s rape suggested sexual violence? Of course one of the easiest ways to defend misogyny is to get a woman to state that it is not. The video director Diane Martel said as much as well as Mr Thicke stating he got permission from his wife before releasing said video. This behaviour is not new.
When questioned in a GQ article Thicke explained that ““We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.” 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.
Maybe it’s me.
Anyhoo there is much to be said about the fact that the video has sparked conversations . Misogyny in popular music is nothing new and I have written before how various musicians have propped up rape culture in their music and ‘disguised’ it as art.
Sexual Freedom or Restriction?
A few colleagues of mine were having a dinner a little while back about sexual liberation. About what it takes for men and women to feel equally empowered around sexuality. To be truly free.
Does burlesque, most pornography or lap dancing demean women if they are willing and sober participants?
What role does power play in determining who really is in control?
Does music of a sexual nature really influence behaviour and if so do we through out mainstream “Get Up like a sex machine” or “Sexual Healing”? Of course not but that does not prevent serious discussion about art imitating life and how women are seen in so many media as sexual objects.
The video still leaves a lot of unanswered questions in my mind. Why does it still make me feel a bit uncomfortable? Whilst it is supposed to be satire why has it sparked such interest? And why are people so reluctant to challenge it, is it because of the messenger?
From time immemorial music and media has demeaned women and will probably continue to do so. That said if others will view this as art and an opportunity to tackle taboo subjects then it will always tick a box for them.
Personally I am very curious as to how there was no humungous backlash as when Rick Ross dropped his song. Both songs in essence lent themselves to rape culture, yet it would only appear to have affected one musicians career to the negative. Speaks volumes in its silence.