Posted by Brad @ 4:57 pm on July 8th 2013

Music Video of the Week

So, whatever, I posted one Pharrell-infused funky jam of the summer, may as well post the other, which has also been on heavy rotation on my playlist, and also everywhere.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Like Robyn, I have a real soft spot for Robin Thicke, although almost exclusively for anything that isn’t in the bulk of his mainstream catalog that made him famous and which I can totally take or leave. I like Robyn the rapper and Robin the funky 70s disco dude. Don’t really care for either as mainstream pop stars.

But, to that point, with these I’m more and more noticing something I pointed out in the 12 Days of Music Videos of the Week countdown. Namely, is it just me, or in the last few years has chart-topping pop music actually gotten…pretty good? I stopped listening to pop radio or music television in the beginning of the century (when it got overrun by teenagers and boy bands, and later shitty club rap; or perhaps more fairly, when I was no longer a teenager so reached the same point with pop music that everyone does when they’re no longer a teenager), but now I’m coming across songs and videos I really get into online, and then come to find they’re already insanely popular in mainstream channels. The Top 40 Billboard songs of the year the last two or three years has included more songs that I’d also list as the Top 40 songs of the year than at any point in my life save maybe the early/mid 90s. Maybe it’s just that my tastes – I tend towards the hooky, the novelty, the fun, and the retro – are just coincidentally dovetailing with mainstream recording catching up to the wake of the YouTube/mashup/retro-cool era of music? I dunno. But it’s making me equal parts thrilled and uncomfortable.


  1. Oh and this version of the video is much better but totally not safe for work.

    Although considering it’s nothing but the musicians in sunglasses, topless girls dancing around, Twitter hashtags superimposed on the screen, and a giant sign that says “Robin Thicke Has a Big Dick”, it may be the purest expression of a music video ever made.

    And for that, we salute you.

    Comment by Brad — 7/9/2013 @ 11:20 am

  2. So, I have a weird relationship with Jimmy Fallon. I kind of spend most of my time really wanting to hate him. Really; he is, on the face of it, someone that would normally annoy the f out of me. But for some reason, the parts that, in themselves, would bug the hell out of me, wind up summing to something I always find endearing in spite of myself.

    To wit:

    That rap break from Black Thought, original, is awesome btw, and a love letter to his wife.

    Comment by Brad — 8/2/2013 @ 7:00 pm

  3. On a (maybe?) more serious note, I hope Liz is still around. This video has actually led to conversation about sexism, misogyny and feminism that is both totally uninteresting in the details but also kind of interesting in the meta. It made me almost post a “I Don’t Care About…Feminism” entry, but decided against it because that’s actually taking it too far. I DO care about both sexism and feminism in many ways. Perhaps the better way to put it is I DON’T care about objectification, which is where much of the conversation about this video lies. And, if you haven’t watched the NSFW version I linked in my first reply, do so now, in large part because it’s, well, awesome.

    But I feel like this video, in a weird way, is almost a litmus test in terms of the kinds of feminism I support and the kinds I roll my eyes at. That’s a weird thing to put on a Robin Thicke video, I know, but it’s wound up being true. I’ve incidentally read a lot of commentary on it (incidentally meaning I haven’t sought it out per se but have wound up reading a lot), and it seems to me to serve as a good yard stick for the TYPE of feminism a person is advocating (I will do away with first, second, third wave kinds of distinctions for this post).

    Basically, it seems to me, what it boils down to is whether or not one views the sexual objectification of a person as INHERENTLY offensive and, when it’s a woman, misogynistic. If one does, then of course, this video would trip your trigger. Because OF COURSE it does.

    The real question, I think, becomes whether one things sexual objectification is inherently a power relationship, i.e. the objectified are by definition placed in a submissive or repressed role by the fact of their objectification. And that’s kind of a fascinating question (one that first wave feminists had to face with pornography, very unsatisfactorily I think, but that second wave feminists with their “any act of being wanted sexually is inherently a power position” also answered unsatisfactorily).

    What’s striking to me about this video is how much it doesn’t support either interpretation. Oh, there is objectification going on all over the place. But the women revel in it, and the men revel in it as well (Pharell’s pimp walks, the Big Dick signs, etc.). The girls are topless, yeah, but the men are also totally playing to the “big pimpin'” stereotype, and BOTH of those objectifications are existing in the same space and commenting on one another (and to be sure, the men’s are just as much about objectification as the women’s). And the result, rather than being about one gender trying to get over on the other, actually winds up…well, fun. A shared space of equal power.

    It’s funny, but to me the power figure in the video is actually, by far, Emily Ratajkowski (the redhead). And that’s in the context of the video – if you want to talk about the meta, this interview only further underscores to me the quality of the video. Her take on it: “What? It was a job, I got paid a lot because I’m hot, I do a lot of modeling like that, and I had fun doing it and think it’s a cool video”. And actually, interviews with the video’s director (a female, as was the crew) and Robin Thicke’s wife Paula Patton have been in a similar vein.

    I have to say I find that attitude so much more feminist than the people dedicated to deconstructing.

    Comment by Brad — 8/2/2013 @ 8:05 pm

  4. The shit you come up with. Seriously. If it was not for your music video’s of the week I would know almost nothing about current trends in the industry. So that Chocolate Drops stuff? Awesome. And then you transition it into feminism, so even more interesting. I don’t know if you pay attention to atheist and skepticism stuff, but there has been a rather large brouhaha going on over misogyny and feminism in the ranks for the last half year or so, stemming from, or at least highlighted by, incidents (and subsequent reaction to them) at various conferences and gatherings. Such things have pushed me into a lot more feminist reading and reflection than I might otherwise have done these last few months. As such: I totally get where you are coming from with your perception of the Thicke video, you’re basically a “sex-positivist” feminist. My only pushback would be in reaction to the statement that the redhead is “the power figure” in the video. That is, well, ludicrous, and almost a parody of antifeminist “but the girls are in charge!” attitude. I have no idea what point I am even trying to make. I have been shaking my head at MRA nonsense the last few months, as well as the associated vicious and misogynist reaction to women in the Skeptical/Atheist community, so that has sort of distorted my lens and put me a bit on edge. So.. no point at all…. move along.

    Comment by Jack — 8/4/2013 @ 12:08 am

  5. Let me elaborate a touch on my pushback:
    It is one thing to say that the women are compensated and have agency (and agents!), and quite another to suggest that they are the technical, thematic, or objective “leader” in the video. You have three interchangeable sets of tits dancing naked for the pleasure of three fully dressed men. the men are demonstrating their musical skills and talent, while the women are effectively background objects that dance cute. They are hardly in charge.

    Comment by Jack — 8/4/2013 @ 12:14 am

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