Tuesday, July 23, 2013

vision check

I guess I am lamely late to this controversial party and I anticipate some backlash against my perspective yet here I go...

This article about the Robin Thicke song/video "Blurred Lines" has a few valid points : it is absolutely not ever okay to assume consent from anyone for anything, Mr. Thicke could cool it on some language & imagery and do a better job of obviously mocking misogynistic attitudes, and no one would be paying all that much attention if YouTube hadn't banned the video [for a minute].

However - here is where I might go sideways with some very sensitive, intelligent, well-respected women I know and I hope they will still like me - I think this song & video are essentially supposed to be about how sex should be fun for everyone, and naked lady bodies are a joy to behold. Clearly it has an embarrassingly hetero-centric viewpoint, which I think makes it an easier target for those (rightfully) concerned about the objectification of woman. And I certainly do not condone treating a woman (or any partner) as a thing or property, without rights, incapable of thinking, or disallowed choices. 

But in this song & video? It seems to me Robin, T.I., and Pharrell are being silly boys getting all jazzy about pretty girls. That happens, it's natural (with variations for different orientations), and frankly, it's a compliment [ALTHOUGH I do not want to be called a 'bitch' EVER; that is indeed a grave lyrical error on their part]. But if we're looking to engage in conversation & change perspectives in any way, we have to address the reality of physical attraction and base sexual desires.

I don't think I can say anymore at this point that could smartly compare to these women's creatively astute responses:

A strongly-homosexual take that is brilliant though quite naughty in some places so NSFW or around children who haven't yet seen some South Park, Arrested Development, or any Kevin Smith movies: "Ask First" by J. Mary Burnet & Kaleigh Trace.

And the Mod Carousel gender-swap version helps make even more clear the point of sex=yummy & saucy & empowering. Some of the half-naked boys are wearing makeup, and ALL of them are freaking adorable + having fun. Also NSFW but less terrifying for your pre-teens in terms of references to activities that make 40something high school teachers blush [see above].
Overall, what I talk about with my teenage boy & girl when examining popular music/movies/books/TV/websites, is that no one looks menacing or acts demeaning at a partner or, conversely, no one seems scared or dominated (without delighting in the domination, which is possible amongst consenting partners). While the song played on the radio seems more catchy & teasing than awful, the video is admittedly obnoxious and potentially confusing. The lyrics and the behaviors displayed definitely need discussion with young folk who are trying to figure out how this whole relationship stuff works - when we like + trust each other, we say sassy things and think we're cute (or we tell each other when we're uncomfortable and respect each other's lines, which should not be blurred because we're being honest). If we don't know each other, we are not allowed to make any such comments without fear that - as the straightforward ladies say in "Ask First" - someone will "break your f*cking knees."

Hey hey hey?