Thursday, 5 September 2013

StabbyRaccoon's take on "Blurred lines"

Reblogged from StabbyRaccoon

A lot of people are saying that it's a song about rape but I don't think that they're using sound lyrical interpretation techniques. Looking at a few lines out of context like this article does isn't exactly a great way to determine what a song is actually about. You have to look at all of the lyrics and clues and put them together to see if they create a coherent idea.

(Caveat: yes these are incredibly douchey lyrics, but we're only focused on rape here)

I should note that to really understand what a song is about you have to start from the beginning. If you have heard a few lines on the radio and interpreted one way, it's best to discard your preconceived notions and approach it with a clear mind.

First relevant stanza:

"If you can't hear what I'm trying to say
If you can't read from the same page
Maybe I'm going deaf,
Maybe I'm going blind
Maybe I'm out of my mind
[Pharell:] Everybody get up"

Ambiguous, he's trying to say something to someone. I don't think that we can infer anything yet.

Second stanza:

"OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you're an animal, baby, it's in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don't need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker"

So here we get an explanation and we start to see a story forming. Thick is talking to a woman who's in a relationship and trying to persuade her to let him "liberate" her from it. Apparently with his penis. Now that's a pretty douchey thing to do but there's no indication that he's going to rape her, right now he's simply trying to explain the amazing benefits of sleeping with him.

"And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You're a good girl
Can't let it get past me
You're far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you're a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
[Pharell:] Everybody get up

Here he tells us that she's "grabbing him" and so he knows that she wants him. I can see how that might sound "rapey" to some because of the "I know you want it's" but try to remember that while this may be the language of a date-rapist, it can also be the language of seduction. "I know you want me babe, go ahead, get at me". And that line "go ahead, get at me" also works against the rape hypothesis, he wants her to make the move. If it was about rape we might expect something like "Now I'ma rape ya" or something, not putting the onus on her, because that's not what a rapist does.

"Can't let it get past me" could be taken to mean that there's no way he's going to let her leave without sex, or it might just be normal motivation to finally seduce her. "I can't let this chance pass me by" is similar and could indicate that someone is highly motivated to get a job, but doesn't mean that if they don't get hired then they're going to try to work there anyway.

And of course "I hate these blurred lines". Well that could be interpreted as blurred lines between consenting and not consenting, but it could also mean blurred lines between her being in a committed relationship and being available to have sex with him. And considering the overall storyline of the song we should probably take the latter interpretation. He hates that she can't seem to make up her mind. And if it was a song about date rape then he probably wouldn't be "hating" the blurred lines, he would already be across the line, it wouldn't be such a torment to him.

"What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
You the hottest bitch in this place
I feel so lucky
Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey"

This is simply more of the same. He thinks she's hot and they're flirting.

T.I's douchey rap is uneventful so I won't post it, it's quite long. Basically just him talking about all the things he wants to do sexually. None of it implies rape.

"Shake the vibe, get down, get up
Do it like it hurt, like it hurt
What you don't like work?

Pop-music nonsense, basically.

"Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me, Dakota to Decatur, uh huh
No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning
Hey, hey, hey
Here's our beginning"

I'm not entirely sure what he's talking about. "I got this from Jamaica" might be interpreted as a date rape drug reference if you're REALLY hell-bent on thinking that this is about rape, but "can you breathe" could also indicate that he means strong Jamaican cologne that helps him get the ladies. I don't see a reason to think that this is about date rape drugs.

So I think that it's clear that these lyrics will only be interpreted as being about rape if you desperately want to call people rapists and constantly think about rape. Now who does that? Hmm...

Finally, language like "kind of rapey" is nonsensical and a bad idea. There's no such thing as being "kind of rapey" you're either raping or promoting rape or you're not, this kind of ambiguous language is intended to smear someone without taking on the responsibility of accusing them. But "this song is about rape and Robin Thicke is endorsing rape" is untenable so that's the final resort I suppose.

If you want to say that it's a douchey or sexist song or that this kind of sexuality is a bad idea, that's fine. But when we get into the legal realm things become more serious, you can't wave around these accusations flippantly.


The feminist response was to make a video where they boasted about castrating men and how they didn't want them sexually now they had sex toys, which they proceed to force into men's throats. If I was a male subbie, I might think that was brilliant, especially if I was insanely masochistic (is castration a fetish? probably).

But i have to say, Thicke's song is about sahred pleasure, feminists counter that by removing the capacity for pleasure.

One said "as a woman, when i saw the video i felt so disrespected, i mean, women can put their tits out without anyone thinking is out of control, but for a men bancing around with his dick is a depravante image? just an example that's is quite normal in our society" So presumably they'll be outraged at this!

Oh wait... that's a feminist protest? Oh can't question the Sisterhood, it's not sexism in that case, it's empowerment! Liberation! Freedom! For women only...

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