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Is Robin Thicke Trolling Feminists?

robin thicke blowing smoke in a girl's face with the word "feminism" above it

It's old news that Robin Thicke's music video for "Blurred Lines" is straight-up gross. In the video, near-naked, sometimes-unresponsive women drape themselves around a group of fully dressed male artists who spend four and a half minutes trying to make a "good girl" go bad. But now, he's not just deflecting criticism of his music's flagrant objectification—as we might expect—he's announced that the "Blurred Lines" video is actually the forefront of a new feminist movement! 

In an interview with The Today Show on July 30, Thicke addressed the controversy of his song "Blurred Lines" and the concern that it's sending out messages that are a little more uncomfortable than a just a fun-and-feel-good party song. Thicke begins the interview by saying that in making the song he had "nothing but the most respect for women." This is shown, he explains, by the fact that he's married. Because marriage negates sexism? 

When the interviewers press further, asking if he could understand people's criticisms if he looked at his own video, Thicke quickly claims that all this sexism talk is really just a misinterpretation; the song is "actually a feminist movement in itself."

I think Robin Thicke must be trolling us. No one is that ridiculous. Right? Please tell me he's trolling. No one would go this over the top in all sincerity. 

It's true that it isn't exactly unusual for a high-profile celebrity to publicly misconstrue what is and isn't feminist. But typically the situation plays out more along the lines of a Katy Perry or Lady Gaga actively dissociating themselves from the word and the movement altogether rather than awkwardly grabbing at the label as a way to weasle out of being called sexist.

The way Thicke explains it, "Blurred Lines" is actually a complex social commentary on the way women are portrayed in music videos—you know, as sexy and infantilized decoration—and Thicke expertly decided to stir the pot on this sensitive and heavy issue by giving us some provocative, multifaceted imagery. People angry about the extremely nuanced images in his video clearly just weren't thinking hard enough about the deep meaning of the video. 

This is clearly the new face of feminism: 

Still from Thicke's revolutionary feminist single, "Blurred Lines."

My theory is that Thicke is so upset at all the criticism his video has received that he's decided to poke at his critics in the way he knows will most piss them off: by saying he's one of us.

That, or he's just asinine. It's a toss-up. 


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Comments

29 comments have been made. Commenting is set to read-only for this post.

Check out Mod Carousel's

Check out Mod Carousel's awesome parody: http://youtu.be/tKfwCjgiodg

OhmG

This is my summer jam.

Love the Mod Carousel!

That parody is fantastic.

This is even better - a true

This is even better - a true subvertising of Blurred Lines:
http://vimeo.com/70304632#

I Love Him

All I really wanted to say was that I love him. LOL!

What an idiot

Sometimes it's just better not to say anything at all. I would hate to be his PR person.

THANK you!

Thanks for posting this! I am happy to read it. i discovered this video only recently & am sick of reading interviews with Thicke & reviews of the video that celebrate how it was his wife's idea & how it's the brainchild of a female director. The video's director Diane Martel said in an interview: "I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men. Look at Emily Ratajkowski’s performance; it’s very, very funny and subtly ridiculing. That’s what is fresh to me. It also forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position. I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous, the guys are silly as fuck. That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful."

YUCK. i am so over women (and men) who perpetuate the objectification & sexualization of female bodies while claiming that it's some (post-feminist) form of "power," "agency," or resistance to misogyny.

Yes

My gut certainly agrees that this "new feminism" (somehow still reflected in very old, somewhat boringly classic misogynist imagery) is just not right and that Thicke clearly hasn't thought very hard about the issues. The women who are touting the directorship of the video have simply given up or fallen on the wrong side of this argument, since they caved to the age old power dynamic in which their sex doesn't look powerful at all. I'm sorry. Until producers can concoct some new imagery and viewers can conceive of power plays where women have clothes on or better yet where we can conceive of naked men as powerful objects to be looked at too, I'm not buying into this as feminist anything. Te song is god damned catchy though, but ultimately not even up to par for thickes history of music. I had only seen the edited video until recently, but now know just how pornographically screwed we still are with this stuff. It's uncomfortable and angry- making and dance worthy all at once.

"I directed the girls to look

"I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position."

um, hilarious! this may date me, but i am more on the side of john berger in "ways of seeing" that an unclothed woman (in art/media) looking out at the viewer (in this case looking straight into the camera) is not in a position of power but is rather inviting (and therefore seeking and validating) the male gaze. he refers to this type of undressed woman at the nude, as opposed to an undressed woman who does not address the male gaze with her view - she is simply naked. she is autonomous because she is not looking for a man to validate her with his gaze.

THANK YOU, YES. When I heard

THANK YOU, YES.
When I heard the ridiculous statement that eye to camera contact was empowering, my mind immediately went to thoughts of sleazy pornos and made up(?) quotes of "Look in the camera and TAKE IT, BITCH."
So empowering, right?

It is nominated for MTV Awards

The Musogyny Project is behind a petition at Care2 asking that MTV withdraw the video's nominations for this year's Video Music Awardss.

As for Thicke's view of feminism, he's just another example of why feminist literacy and misogyny literacy are critical for our culture and social change. Lyrics expressing "I know you want it" fifty or more times in a "song" is not empowerment at all.

hmmm

I didn't even realize there was an "uncensored" version where all the girls are topless....how empowering is that?

Its easy for celebrities to

Its easy for celebrities to get caught up in their superficial world and the sad thing is that sexism is forced upon them more than the general public which is horrible! That being said there is a great book called "female chauvinist pigs" by Ariel Levy that touches upon a wave of feminism that has women throwing lingerie parties where men are NOT allowed to oogle or touch them and they can just be sexxy without being an object. I appreciate people pushing the boundaries of all ideologies but Robin Thicke is a moron, hes not trolling I think hes just really misinformed and confused. Someone needs to have a serious talk about feminism with this man. Just like the females that say "we can be as promiscuous as men" hes just not in the know about what feminism really stands for. ITs not about being just like men (who are also subject to sexism) its about reaching human equality! A video of almost dude women with men in clothes is not doing that its just media eye candy, its just a ploy for views, money and fame. BLEH! I'm scared to see this video...it may spin me into a frenzy of heated rants. Thanks for posting this article is fabulous! I'm so glad there are aware people out there questioning our media and celebrities!

ALSO! "i know you want it"

ALSO! "i know you want it" being repeated over and over...very interesting....I think thats how we memorized our times tables in grammar school...repetition

Don't shed tears for celebrities-media quite yet

Not 'more than the general public'. Media (including these celebrities) use and push these roles that have the most marketability and money in it for them.

The media and pop stars need to have more ethics and responsibility for the fact that in a highly pop-culturized world, they set trends and ideas of what is sexy and normal, affecting young and old people alike both actively and subliminally.

Give Me A Break!

The only reason this asshole is trying to claim he's being such a good feminist is because he got called out.

There is nothing empowering about having naked women parade around fully dressed men for their visual appeal, blowing smoke in her face and claiming how he knows how much she wants him. There is nothing empowering about the borderline threat in, "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two." He's trying to do what he considers to be liberating a "good girl" by trying to convince her that what she really wants is wild sex the way he likes it.

I will never consider a man a feminist who says this, when asked if his video is derogatory towards women: "'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." If you think it's a good time to humiliate and degrade women, that you "deserve" to do as some consolation prize after being such a good wittle boy and being married, then you're not a fucking ally, and you're sure as hell not a feminist.

Stop trying to get into the club, Thicke - you don't belong in here.

Feminist Killjoy! :D

Robin Thicke has a big dick.

Is this video sexist because the women are naked? Because the lyrics are about sex? Or is it a combination of both?
Is this video sexist because Robin Thicke wants to have good sex with these beautiful women? Is he objectifying women or is that just an expression of sexuality?

This video is definitely over the top...like, honestly, the words "Robin Thicke has a big dick" flash in the background. That being said, this video mesmerizes me. The fully-clothed men are goofy, the naked women are feisty, and everyone in the video looks like they're having fun at a party.

I personally find I just

I personally find I just boring to see women only portrayed like this in videos nowadays.

I's not empowering if that power is only given to you after the approval of another person that will decide whether or not you are hot enough. It's pseudo-empowering. And the exchange only goes one way, the men are not parading around naked for approval by the ladies.

There's nothing sexist about people being naked, or lyrics about sex per se. But it's sexist to reduce the role one gender or sex solely to be the enjoyment of the other. (Plus the lyrics about ripping the ass of a girl with your dick, that's aggressive to me, not sexy at all, let alone the 'I know you want it' hook)

These are no sexual women, they are sexual objects. It's not about their sexuality and them enjoying it. the gaze is only male.

I definitely prefer the 'Ask first' spoof http://vimeo.com/70304632 , which I think is very goofy, funny and sexy.

Anyway, the whole ordeal feels like an icky American Apparel add to me.

I really appreciate this

I really appreciate this post. IGenerally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very great post.
www.qualiglas.be

The burnette model is a

The burnette model is a feminist. She thought the video was tastefully done and artistic. As a sex positive feminist, I do agree with her. I hate the lyrics of the song but the video doesn't bother me. I figured since the models consented to it and don't seem to regret it, there shouldn't be a problem. This might get my feminist card taken from me, but I don't see objectification as degrading as long as its consensual. I'm not a big fan of policing women's bodies.

a common answer to deflect

a common answer to deflect criticism is "oh , so and so who is involved in the [video, publication, whatever] is a feminist [insert word that deflects criticism here] so it's ok to talk about ripping someone's ass in two and blowing smoke in their face." it\s the oldest trick in the book, that im amazed to see so many people STILL fall for. For example, for those still not understanding, if there was an article written on say, bumble bees that makes bumble bees look bad, then a way to deflect criticism is to say a bumble bee wrote the article, so of course it's ok then, right?

Hey, if the video is sexist, it is sexist, why defend it? you don't have to watch the piece of garbage or buy the douche's album and if you like it, oh well, you like a sexist video, oh well! it's pretty obvious that it is sexist in many ways, as is other pop trash out there. Why do some feel the need SO BADLY to turn a duck into a horse? and defend it as a piece of "high art" when really it is not. They constantly bandy the "omg the guy is married and even the naked model who got paid big bucks to be in the video and say what she is told by the pr agency or she will never work again is a feminist so it is not and im not a feminist I hate feminism now because im afraid I wont get a date with a HOT guy if I say im a feminist omg omg omg" argument. if you like sexist crap, just admit yes, it is sexist and I like it.

IT IS WHAT IT IS , and if you like it, YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE. simple. why complicate something that is so baseline primordial.

best criticism I've heard of this

The best thing I've heard about this piece of shit video is from Julie Klausner's podcast (it's great- funny, smart & feminist - *How Was Your Week*). She said, "shut up, Robin Thicke. Erections are never ironic."

Another great response video:

Another great response video: http://vimeo.com/70304632

Done and DONE.

W.H.O. C.A.R.E.S?! I used to donate to Bitch, but after so many ridiculous and stereotypical feminist articles, I am over it. (Just as the world is over this song and the discussion of the music video.) Come on Bitch, surely you can come up with better topics instead of jumping onto a beaten bandwagon?

It's playing into this cliched feminist role that is so upsetting.. I would love to see that feminism has evolved, but the tone and words of this article proves that is not the case.

Girls just wanna have fun, right?

I really liked this song and video at first because I thought the girl's "good girl" status was directly related to her animal nature. As a fairly relaxed woman, I've been told many times that I'm a good girl by men and women...like the equivalent of a good boy. A fun person. Cool, a good hang. Not a puritan angel. When I realized he was saying "but you're a good girl" rather than "because you're a good girl" I was totally bummed. I thought it was more in the spirit of..."some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world. But I want to be the one to walk in the sun." Girls just want to have fun, yall.

How self-righteous of you.

I love when women like you decide for the rest of of what is and is not ok. Thank you for appointing yourself the authority! If you don't like it, don't watch it. I think if you were truly, brutally honest with yourself, you might have a chance of someday realizing that the isn't videos like this- the problem is the overwhelming insecurity inside of you that makes a rage well up when you see hot women sexualized, and the lengths you'll go to to denounce the video as evil, rather than ever admit that the women in the video make you feel threatened.

YOU are the oppressor, women like you.

Signed, 38 year old confident woman, and owner of three businesses with 45 employees.

I agree. I'm a feminist. I'm

I agree. I'm a feminist. I'm also a playboy model. I believe in gender equality. I don't believe in policing a woman's body. If a woman wants to be objectified, she has all the right in the world to do so. It doesn't make her less of a person. it just means she's proud of the way she looks and isn't apologizing for it.

Exactly. Everything isn't

Exactly. Everything isn't always as it seems anyway. This video is largely a parody. Just like Randy Newman
with "Short People." Everybody needs to put their big-girl panties on and stop taking everything so damn seriously.
Life is too short to let something like this get under your skin. People just can't have fun anymore without
somebody finding a way to make a big deal out of it.

I see absolutely nothing

I see absolutely nothing wrong with the video or the lyrics. It's no different than when women make music videos bashing men. Those women volunteered to partake in the video. They are responsible for their own actions.

I salute Mr. Thicke for cashing in on feminism by creating this controversy, Feminism has been cashing in at the expense of innocent men for too long and its time for some men to snag some of that money under their noses for
the sake of balance. Your time is up feminazi's!!

Suck it up bitches! Its a new day! If Miley can act like a slut in national TV in front of children, then Mr. thicke can keep his clothes on, stay classy and take a more artistic route. Stop being jealous that you can't possess talent and be classy.
All you have is your body. That's the bed you made so lay in it. LOL