The X Factor’s Sunday results show attracts some of the biggest names in music, and the Sunday 20th October instalment was no exception, featuring performances from Robin Thicke and Katy Perry. Unless you were living under a rock, your ears have probably been assaulted by the No.1 song ‘Blurred Lines’, over the summer. And chances are you heard about Thicke and Miley Cyrus’s controversial performance of the song at the VMA’s in August. Unless you were living under a rock. Living under a rock would have been preferable. Sunday night, Robin Thicke came out and attempted to sing the annoyingly catchy song with his paper thin voice, while girls with ‘Blurred Lines’ stamped all over their tights paraded around him. Um, gross. So why did I want to throw up? It’s not just that the 36 year old Robin Thicke looks like the kind of guy who lives on the corner of the street and always asks if your sister is 18 yet, although that doesn’t help. It’s that goddamn song. You know, the one with the rape overtones that is totally derogatory towards women.
We live in a time when rape culture and victim blaming is a huge problem, so for the big hit of the summer to be a song trivialising consent and encouraging the ‘no doesn’t always mean no’ idea is pretty troubling. TheSocietyPages.Org recently put together an article comparing pictures of victims of assault holding cards featuring sentences their rapists said to them, with the lines from Thicke’s song. ‘I know you want it’, ‘You’re a good girl’, ‘The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty’, ‘I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two’. All lyrics from ‘Blurred Lines’ that sound horribly similar to the words held by the victims of rape. ‘We both know you don’t mean it when you say no’, ‘You know you want it’, ‘It’s supposed to hurt’, are just a selection of things said to the women and men before, after or during their assault. Several university unions, including Edinburgh, Leeds, Derby, Queen Mary and Birmingham, have banned the song for violating their policy on ‘rape culture and lad banter’ and the unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent it promotes. The video to the song has spawned many parodies including a gender swap video and one by The University of Auckland’s Law Revue, who renamed it ‘Defined Lines’. Their video was taken down (briefly) for ‘sexual content’. Double standards much?
Talking about writing the song, Thicke said he and Pharrell Williams wrote it in a half an hour and added ‘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. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.” And then there’s the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke VMA performance. While Miley received endless amounts of criticism for getting way too intimate with that foam finger, maybe more of the hate should have been directed at the married man standing behind her as she twerked up against him.
And here we have Robin Thicke performing on The X Factor surrounded by girls with those awful ‘Blurred Lines’ tights. What a wonderful message. Thankfully, Katy Perry came out to sing Roar afterwards. Which has a much nicer message embedded in it.