Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

07 September 2013

Blurred Lines

Maybe I'm deaf. Or maybe I'm blind. Maybe I'm going out of my mind.

But "Blurred Lines", a song that I've been digging for a while now, is pretty much exactly the same song as Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack".


I know that Adorno said that all pop music is just recycled from previous pop music. And I'm not complaining. I liked "SexyBack" a lot in 2006 and I like Robin Thicke's version of it now. What I was thinking about today, though, is all of the backlash surrounding Robin Thicke's song and how sexist it is. I find discussions about things like this fascinating because for some reason people are like actually up in arms about this song and how it is misogynist and objectifies women.

So I went back to the video for "SexyBack" and found these two images:
The plot of Timberlake's video is some kind of spy/James-Bond thing, and it involves this lovely woman wearing very little (with, however, a well-placed pearl necklace) looking around a hotel room for something. There is literally no logical reason that this woman is not wearing more clothes.
And then there is this image:

There is some kind of public lesbian sex club in the video. Justin walks through the halls of this well-lit sex club (where women don't have sex, really, but just sort of make out with one another and look sexy). There are lots of delightful shots of women in various seductive poses and in various states of undress.

The reason I point this out is to ask, well, how is the Thicke/T.I./Pharrell video any different?
Leaving aside the question of how sexist these songs and videos are (and they are sexist), I am mostly just wondering why this video gets everyone so mad.

And I am not saying that we shouldn't talk more about how sexist pop music is, and the real-world damage done to the bodies of actual women who attempt to conform to these sexist images. I'm not saying that we oughtn't to criticize the way the music industry supports and promotes the notions of men as the keepers of sexual pleasure and women as objects who need constant sexual satisfaction. And I am certainly not saying oh just shut up and dance. But let's talk about this more. Point out the sexism in pop music more. Point out the sexism in our legal system more. Because if we are focusing only on how sexist Robin Thicke is, we are allowing ourselves to be distracted, when this sexism permeates popular music in general and our society as a whole.