Close Listen: Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” Glorifies Rape Culture, Is also Catchy

Oh, Robin Thicke.

Oh, “Blurred Lines.”

“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke (who, I will admit, is super sexy) is everywhere these days.  The song, upon first and somewhat-distracted listening, is another generic pop song about sex or dancing or something…  It’s really catchy and it’s got some sonic soul.  The aesthetics of the song itself are groovy and cool.  If I hadn’t listened closely, I would probably like this song.

However, taking the time to listen to the lyrics provided me with the sadly not-so-shocking truth: “Blurred Lines” glorifies rape culture, portrays women as objects without agency, knowledge, or power, and suggests a problematic passage of women from one man to another.

Take a listen for yourself.

Wait… Before you do that, we need to talk about the video too.

THE VIDEO

The unrated version is below – very NSFW.  The video features three disaffected models wearing flesh-colored thongs…  As in, ONLY THONGS.  The boobies are out.  The models are sort of dancing.  It’s really rather weird.  Imagine what it was like to film that video.

Oh, so I just walk from side to side not really doing anything while these guys sing?  Okay.  Oh, and I’m naked.  Oh, I get a thong.  Great…

Awkward…

They let her wear clothes (sort of) but turned her into a road, on which they could drive their toys.

These very pretty, young women are strutting around while fully dressed men – all in suits –  perform a smarmy song around them.  It’s uncomfortable and everyone looks uncomfortable.  The women are making an effort to cover themselves some of the time, other times enjoying the bouncing… I guess.

At one point, one of the girls is holding a goat.  They’re wearing 90s shoes, plastic, and other weird stuff.  The men are all being horrible.

Ugh… Here it is.

BLURRED LINES – UNRATED – ROBIN THICKE, PHARRELL WILLIAMS, T.I.

THE LYRICS

The problem continues.

While the song is largely, well, stupid.  It’s a poorly written song about wanting to bang a hot chick.  We’ve all heard a lot of songs about this and many of them are offensive, reinforce stereotypes, and the objectification of women.  Even female artists participate in this a fair amount of the time.  Women often sing about how hot and desirable they are…  Men sing about their dicks.

The thing is, it’s a real problem to talk about women’s behavior meaning they want or need sex.  Consent is what’s sexy.  A girl dancing in a sexy way doesn’t mean she wants or needs to suck some dudes wiener. 

Women are allowed to be sexy, sensual, hot, attractive, pretty, and alluring without sex.  Nothing but consent is consent.  That’s just how it is.  Seeing a woman from across a room and having a feeling that she might “want it” doesn’t mean she really does.

Writing a song that repeats “I know you want it” six times per chorus sends a bad message.  It teaches young men and women that  seeming like they want sex is enough to consent actual sex.  But that’s not okay.  Sex should be something all participants agree to USING WORDS.  Not using eye movements or nods.  Telling men that they can tell when a woman wants sex by the way she dances isn’t helping anyone.  That’s teaching men that they know better.  They know something women don’t know.  Women need men telling them when sex should and will happen.

Except… WRONG.

The Chorus
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

 

James Franco Is Bad at Poetry

Note:  This is a poem from the Inauguration, which I know was a few weeks back.  It just took me a long time to process this and I really didn’t want to read this whole poem again.

My brain is broken.  James Franco has broken my heart and brain.  I love poetry.  Therefore, I now hate James Franco.  He has called himself a poet, somehow joined many graduate programs in creative writing, and he is demeaning poetry consistently.  This is what happens when you give a spoiled child the means and praise he’s received.  He thinks he is a good poet.  He is so, so wrong.

As a person who writes poetry, I find him offensive. There are real poets, full-time poets out there who write incredibly beautiful, meaningful poetry that is art and not simply narcissistic rambling. In some ways, he may help bring people to poetry, but if he uses his notoriety to write sub-par, high school-level prose-poems, he isn’t doing the field any favors. People already scoff at poetry; he’s giving them more reason to do so. This is the poetic equivalent to painting a circle on a canvas and charging $100,000 for high art.

If James Franco represents poetry, then poetry is dead.

Randomly, even if verbally, pointing to things in a room doesn’t make your poem illustrative.  It just means you looked around a room.  Poetry is more than a listing of thoughts, or the action of hitting “Enter” on your keyboard.  Poetry is supposed to be art, and this does not qualify.  This is a the live-journal of James Franco pushed onto thin, tall pages.

Art is not an annotated bibliography and vice versa.  James Franco seems to think that he is smart, talented, and unique enough to justify his thoughts alone as art.  Just because you write it and you think you are great doesn’t mean you’ve made something good.  It barely means you’ve made anything at all.

From Kate: “This isn’t even pragmatic or pretty prose.  This is what would happen if poetry had an abortion.”

We must pay special attention to the poem’s end; not just because he gives himself an Oscar for a black-face portrayal of Obama’s “core goodness,” but also because he tells us that “[He’d] let the writer put in all the political crap.”  By saying this, it is as if Franco might actually be aware that he’s not a real writer.  Sure, he’s discussing a fake future movie that someone would write about Obama and then actually cast a white stoner…  But, he doesn’t seem to get that he is “writing” at the moment.  He took the time to google Asheville, but he didn’t take the time to google the president.  Here are some of the last lines about this movie: “I’d let the writer put in all the political crap, / And the specific things that he was up against, / All that stuff on CNN and the Huffington Post, / And I’d say the lines that were written, just like Obama / Reads his lines, but what would really put the role over / Would be the goodness at its core. / That’s what will be remembered. / Yes, his race, no one will forget. But the soul too. / I’d win the Academy Award if I just captured that.”

The vagueness of these lines enrages me.  Poetry is not vague.  He sounds like a person with no knowledge who has randomly decided to pontificate about President Obama.  “All that stuff on CNN and the Huffington Post…”  What stuff?  Which issue?  Are you speaking of his race, his policies, his debate performance, war, economics, anything?  Also, he says that he would “… say the lines that were written, / just like Obama…” almost as an afterthought, as if we, the readers, are supposed to assume that Franco is such a gifted actor, he could easily say lines “just like” the president.

Key Features of Narcissism and Overall Badness:

  • The poem features a striking lack of imagery.
  • The poem lacks rhythm, meter, and music.
  • The poem consists of the thoughts of an easily distracted, wannabe-educated, possibly high hipster with a grandiose self-image.
  • The poem seems to have to remind itself that its purpose is to honor the 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
  • It’s basically an encyclopedia entry (think wikipedia in a book).  He just explains to us what is significant about Ashville.  He seems to think that every detail of his life and the things that he knows are interesting.  He is wrong.  “Asheville is the place where the Black Mountain College once stood / And helped birth Rauschenberg, Twombly and Johns, / Cage and Cunningham.”
  • He talks about Obama knowing him from the Spiderman movies: “He [Obama] knew me from Spider-Man.”  I’m sure Mr. President was trying to polite; it’s not like he’s your biggest fan.  Get over yourself.
  • Celebrity name dropping without reason.  We’re all excited for you that you got to meet President Obama, Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, and Claire Danes.
  • The poem ends with James Franco winning an Oscar.  That means that when James Franco thinks about other people, he quickly finds a way to think about himself.
  • The whole poem is about James Franco thinking about how James Franco is like or related to President Obama.  If I were to write a poem about a tree and I kept comparing that to my acting career, I would be a douche bag.  My point is that James Franco is ruining poetry and he’s a douche.

*********************************************************************************

Obama in Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina, is the birthplace of Thomas
Wolfe and the sometime residence of F. Scott Fitzgerald
When he visited Zelda at her institution;
He stayed at the Grove Park Inn, a grand stone edifice.

On the phone once, Cormac McCarthy lamented
The two added wings and the spa, and marveled
At the original structure, They pulled the stones
From the mountains and brought them down on mules.

Soon after his fortieth birthday, Fitzgerald attempted suicide
Here, but couldn’t shoot his own head, drunk, I guess.
Later, after he was actually dead, from alcohol,
Zelda perished in a fire at her institution, one of nine.

*

Asheville is the place where the Black Mountain College once stood
And helped birth Rauschenberg, Twombly and Johns,
Cage and Cunningham; now I think it’s a Young Men’s Christian Association.
On the wall of the Grove Park, they have pictures of the famous guests;

I’m not up there, but Obama is. I was asked to write something
For the inauguration of his second term, but what could I write?
I was in Asheville, studying writing, but not the political sort;
I write confessions and characters, and that sort of thing.

I wrote my friend Frank about what I could do, but he was unresponsive.
I went to class and then the little burrito place where they know me,
And finally at night I got Frank’s email on my phone and pulled over
On the side of Warren Wilson Road, past the school barn with the WWC —

That I couldn’t see in the dark — right before the school entrance;
A little spot where there’s a path that leads to a lake called Snake Lake.
First I called my class at UCLA, and told them to watch Apocalypse Now,
And that it used Heart of Darkness as a model, and that we’d watch

Eleanor Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness, the making-of, the following week.
Then I read Frank’s note. He said he was sleeping twenty hours a day,
With no symptoms except that he desired sleep
And just a little more sleep. He’s in his seventies.

Then he said that my poem was a difficult task.
How to write about a man written about endlessly;
A man whom everyone has some sort of experience of;
How to write so that it’s not just for the converted.

*

I met Obama once, in D.C., the Correspondents’ Dinner.
I was the guest of Vanity Fair, guided through D.C. by the wife
Of Christopher Hitchens, when he was alive. We went to Hitch’s place,
He had books from floor to ceiling, and said he had read

To Borges, when he was blind, Old Icelandic Eddas—
Then we waited in a private room with the likes of Tom Cruise,
And Katie Holmes, and Claire Danes. When Obama entered
The crowd converged. Finally, I got to shake his hand,

He knew me from Spider-Man. I asked him for advice,
I was scheduled to give the commencement speech at UCLA
And there were some undergraduate knockers against me;
He had been denied the usual honorary degree by Arizona State

Because he hadn’t accomplished enough, so I wondered
How he dealt with detractors. He smiled his smile and said,
“Humor.” Well he’s damn right, and I wonder how much
That stand-up comedian is laughing in the face

Of this big country. Because he is one man and we are many,
And a great servant of the people—he’s a president, not a king—
And doesn’t need to face what King Charles once faced.
(Frank suggested I examine Marvell’s semi-inauguration poem for Cromwell:)

That thence the Royal actor borne
The tragic scaffold might adorn:
     While round the armèd bands
     Did clap their bloody hands.

That most famous stanza, and then:

But bow’d his comely head
Down, as upon a bed.

And he was beheaded, good-bye Charles.

*

If I were to act in the film about Obama,
All I would need to get down, aside from the outer stuff—
And I know that’s important—is his essential kindness,
I’d let the writer put in all the political crap,

And the specific things that he was up against,
All that stuff on CNN and the Huffington Post,
And I’d say the lines that were written, just like Obama
Reads his lines, but what would really put the role over

Would be the goodness at its core.
That’s what will be remembered.
Yes, his race, no one will forget. But the soul too.
I’d win the Academy Award if I just captured that.

This Music Is Bad: will.i.am feat. Britney Spears – “Scream & Shout”

Two untalented “musicians.” Roughly 400 computer programs. 15+ Producers. And one incredibly mediocre, nothing song about itself. I’m so tired of meta-music.

This music is bad.

Why are people writing songs about the songs they’re writing.  I don’t need you to tell me during your song that when I hear said song, I will want to ask the DJ to turn up the music.  Let me figure it out on my own.  I have ears and a mouth.  I am capable.  I am fairly certain that these musicians are not trying to address pop music on the meta level; instead, I believe pop music has actually become so self-obsessed and tired that it must continuously reference itself.  If the musician doesn’t tell us to turn up the music, how will we know?

Also, why is Britney Spears referencing herself in this song?  They are sampling, “It’s Britney, Bitch.” from her “rough” phase.  Why bring it up?

“When you hear this in the club, you gotta turn this shit up.”  

Thank you so much for telling me what to do in when I hear this song.  Next time I’m in the club, squirming my sequined body on the dance floor, and I hear this song, I will scurry to the DJ booth in my 6-inch heels (read: slowly and carefully), scream into his/hers headphoned ears that she/he has “gotta turn this shit up.” Why?  Well, because clubs are always playing those will.i.am songs far too quietly.  I mean, will.i.am is prolific, philosophical, and deep, man.

This song sounds like a slow and sad eulogy for a euro-trash computer-generated porn star.  That, or the imaginary girlfriend of a coked-out wannabe dj living in the bowels of Los Angelos.  This song couldn’t be sadder.

It sounds like two old, nearly washed-up almost-musicians… Oh, wait.  It is two old, nearly washed-up almost-musicians.  It is lazy, tired, and entirely bland.  Perhaps, it is aggressively boring.  So boring it reminds me of these two assholes who hang out with my boyfriend’s friends.  Those two are real dummies.  They would probably like this damn “song.”

 

To my point, here are the full lyrics.  Careful, you might get blown away.

SCREAM AND SHOUT
will.i.am featuring Britney Spears

Bring the action

When your hear us in the club
You gotta turn the shit up — You gotta turn the shit up — You gotta turn the shit up

When we up in the club
All eyes on us — All eyes on us — All eyes on us

See the boys in the club
They watching us — They watching us — They watching us

Everybody in the club
All eyes on us — All eyes on us — All eyes on us

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with 
will.i.am and Britney bitch
Oh yeah  — Oh yeah — Oh yeah
Bring the action

Rock and roll
Everybody let’s lose control
On the bottom we let it go
Going faster, we ain’t going slow-low-low
Hey yo
Hear the beat, now let’s hit the floor
Drink it up and then drink some more
Light it up and let’s let it blow

Hey yo
Rock it out and rock it now
If you know what we talking bout
Turn it up and burn down the house ha house
Hey yo
Turn it up and go turn it down
Here we go we go shake it
Cause everywhere we go we
Bring the action

When your hear us in the club
You gotta turn the shit up — You gotta turn the shit up — You gotta turn the shit up

When we up in the club
All eyes on us — All eyes on us — All eyes on us

See the boys in the club
They watching us — They watching us — They watching us

Everybody in the club
All eyes on us — All eyes on us — All eyes on us
I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with 
will.i.am and Britney bitch
Oh yeah — Oh yeah — Oh yeah
Bring the action

It goes on and on and on and on
When me and you party together
I wish this night would last forever
Cause I was feeling down and now feel better
It goes on and on and on and on
When me and you party together
I wish this night would last forever
Forever forever ever ever

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh
I wanna scream and shout and let it all out
And scream and shout and let it out
We sayin’ oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with 
will.i.am and Britney bitch

Christina Aguilera Won’t Let Me Like Her

I’ve got 99 problems, and her attitude is #1.

Oh, Christina…

I should warn you all that this post is largely about The Voice on NBC.  I love this show, and I’m not ashamed of it.  If you have seen any clips or episodes, you may have noticed that Christina Aguilera has been acting a little rude, a little conceited, and sometimes just completely unlikable.  I want to like her, but just won’t let me.

I didn’t understand “Genie in a Bottle,” but I loved it. I liked it too.  Yes, when she went through her slutty phase, it was hard for me to support her, but she had empowering songs, and “Beautiful,” which is a great song, dammit.  Even when she was “Dirty,” she was likable.  She sang about how dudes can be “players,” but ladies are “sluts” and “whores.”  I think that’s a great point.  Ladies should be able to do exactly what dudes do.  We are equal, and she demanded that – even if we were just talking sex.  Also, she’s a friggin’ machine.  This girl can sing like nobody.  She is just so powerful, and skilled.  My god, she’s good.  You have to respect that.  If I was that good, I would probably have quite an ego, so I do understand hers.  She deserves to be a little cocky, but she could save it for the stage.  I miss liking her.

Basically, Christina was always a little crazy, but I liked the craziness before.  What was different about seeing her as a coach on The Voice?  I guess, I just didn’t know she was kind of mean.  Instead of being humble, kind, considerate, or normal, she’s just shown that she’s a bit too obsessed with herself to really give people the time of day, or the consideration of tact.  She is usually correct in her criticisms; I just wish she’d be nicer about it.

If I had a genie in a bottle, I would ask him to make Christina Aguilera likable again.

To Tony Lucca (aka Mr. Tries-Too-Hard), she called his ass out once.  I was happy.  When she told him that he seemed “one-dimensional” it helped him.  He stepped his game way up, and he was thankful for the comment.  That’s what good criticism does.

But… then she just wouldn’t lay off.  Sometimes, she needed to just say, “Good job,” and leave it at that.  Her final critique was fair and a good point; she complained that doing Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” was a little strange considering its derogatory lyrics and his status as a husband and father (of a daughter).  I don’t really understand why he chose to do this song.  Yes, it was cool.  Yes, it was edgy (I guess).  I think, that like many people, I was sick of how damn hard this guy was trying.  We get it. You’re cool.  Now, sing an actual blues/rock song.  Her criticism was refreshing.  She also complimented the performance and said some nice things.  The problem is that she spent the whole season being a tool to this dude and to Adam Levine (who seems like a tool anyway), so this criticism just seemed like yet another whiny, self-obsessed insult.  It didn’t come off as the rather adept industry-wide issue it is.  OY

Another issue: she was a little cold to all the guests.  Both J. Biebs and The Wanted performed this season and were allegedly “snubbed” by Ms. Aguilera.  She just could have been a little nicer, a little humbler.

Another issue: WHAT THE HELL IS SHE WEARING? WHY WON’T SHE JUST WEAR SOMETHING NORMAL WITH NORMAL HAIR AND NORMAL MAKE-UP?  Why? …. Oh, Christina…

One of many crimes. What is this atrocity?

This actually doesn’t look that bad… but still.

Choose one crazy accessory. Also, wear pants more often. Please!

Suddenly, it seemed like she had fired her crazed stylist, hair and make-up team, and actually just brushed her hair and put on a nice dress. I praised the heavens. It didn’t last.

My point is that I want to like Christina Aguilera.  She is so amazingly talented.  Why can’t she just be nicer?

I’ve got 99 problems, and her attitude is #1.

On Graduation

Maybe this is you.

This is probably what your college is doing now.

 

Maybe this is your current situation.

 

You probably feel a little like this.

 

We hope it feels like this.

On Napping – An Insomniac’s Confusion

Hello.  I am an insomniac.  I do not nap.  I don’t understand napping.  I barely understand sleeping.  Napping is confusing.  How do people sleep during the day?  My freshmen year roommate (who is amazing, by the way) was a champion napper.  I was always so impressed by her ability to randomly fall asleep when the sun was still shining, people were still running about, and while her mind was still buzzing away.  I have trouble sleeping in the dead of night, without distractions.  I truly cannot understand how people can settle down enough to sleep before nightfall.  I have only ever napped when very, very ill.  I also went through a phase when I was sleeping only about two hours per night… During that period, I did occasionally fall asleep randomly, but that was more like dying briefly because my body was so close to death.

It was like this:

Everyone else is adorable when they nap.  They look normal and together.  They look very grateful for the rest.  They are simply overjoyed to be asleep.  They look like this:

Recently, I was compelled to sleep more, and also to nap in a normal way.  I experienced this strange day-sleep on Sunday (the fun day of some), and it was confusing, but beautiful.  I had a few dreams.  The rain lulled me in and out of my sleepiness.  I awoke with fabric lines on my face and arms.  In some ways it was glorious, but it was also largely confusing.  Basically, my boyfriend is a sleep magician, a nap sensei.  He’s a champion sleeper, too.

What is this napping?  How does it work?  How did I do it?  What?

Napping seems like an art form I cannot understand, or a language I don’t speak.  Shouldn’t people be productive during the day and sleepy at night (or in my case, awake all day and weirdly productive at night)?  I guess, I’m just a weird freak.  I just don’t sleep.  I want to sleep.  I just don’t get it.

“Ethnic”

I got an email from a clothing company in my inbox the other day, and upon my perusal of said email, saw the following:

What the hell does “ethnic-embroidered” mean, and why is it a compound word? Why is the term “ethnic,” which is vague and non-specific (but is basically code for any “non-Western” aesthetic), applied to clothes, art, etc.? Especially when that clothing and/or art is mass-manufactured and is anything but “ethnic,” as in being a product of a specific community of people that share ancestry, culture, language, etc.? Why is it okay to use it as a blanket term for brightly colored, zig-zag looking elements? There are plenty of terms to describe a bag like the one above. Zig-zag bag. Geometric bag. Red and black bag. What about just “embroidered handbag”? I just don’t understand the loose use of ethnic to describe something that has an aesthetic that is not at once apparently Western or modern. By calling it ethnic, it seems to mark it as othered, abnormal, and as such, sets up a hierarchy that places more value on a western, modern aesthetic. Yeah?

Christina Aguilera Is NOT Fat.

A lot of people have been freaking out for a while about how “fat” Christina Aguilera has become.  Really?  She’s maybe, at most, a size eight.  Isn’t the average woman a size 14 in this country?  Average Americans are generally pretty frickin’ fat; especially when compared to famous people.  Famous people are held to a truly ridiculous standard of beauty, and their bodies are scrutinized constantly.  This girl appeared on the scene as a teeny tiny teeny bopper.  Now, she’s in her thirties, and she’s a mom.  Maybe we should back off a little.

Christina Aguilera is not fat, y’all.  She’s not even close.  She just grew up, had a baby, gained some normal weight.  How dare a celebrity parade her smaller-than-average, yet not entirely waifish body around like it’s not the worst thing to ever happen?  How dare she wear leggings, jeggings, skirts, dresses, and various other Hollywood-approved items of clothing?  Okay, so she’s a little fuller.  She still has a fairly flat stomach, and she’s a curvy lady.  She has always had impressive ta-tas.  She has always dressed scantily.  She has always flaunted her curves.  Meaning that she does have curves.  Why is that so bad?  Plus, remember when she released the album, “Stripped,” and released songs like, “Dirrrty?”  DO YOU REMEMBER “DIRRTY?”

Anything is better than the weird fake tanned, stippery, midriff-obsessed, dredded, smeared, slutty, dirrrty Christina Aguilera of 2001.  Even if you think she looks “fat,” which is (I reiterate) absurd.  She looks fine.  She looks closer to normal than most celebrities, but that might be a good thing.  Don’t people like that about Kelly Clarkson?  Why can’t we like that about Christina Aguilera too?  Oh no!  Healthy, slightly normal women in Hollywood!  But what if they sound fat on the radio?  We just couldn’t have that.

Turns out, Christina doesn’t give a single eff about people being real a-holes about her weight.  She said, “I’ve been in this for a long time. I came out on the scene when I was 17 years old. ‘You can never be too much of anything. You can never be too prefect, too thin, too curvy, too voluptuous,’ this, that. I’ve been on all sides of the spectrum…  I’m very confident in my body. I think my video works over the years have spoken to that… I’ve been no stranger to being very comfortable in my own skin.”  She also said that her man likes her curves.  (Read more.)

Thus, I think we should leave it be.  If she wants to be a normal person and eat french fries sometimes, why can’t she just freaking do that?

UGH.