I want to start with something that’s been bothering me for about six months.
Remember last summer, when Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” was all over the radio? You know you do—or if you were lucky enough to miss it, like me (thanks to the tried and true trick of avoiding the radio 100% of the time), you at least remember some of the hubbub the song created. My introduction to “Blurred Lines” came via a series of articles I read critiquing the misogynist and generally rape-y content of the megahit. I then sought out the song, watched the clean and then uncensored versions of the music video back-to-back, agreed wholeheartedly that the lyrics were troubling and promptly fled back to my Robin-Thicke-free-zone. As I was running away at top speed, this is what I remember thinking: I’m disappointed in Pharell/ man, T.I. is suddenly in everything/I hope the critique of this song won’t be a one-off thing, but will instead lead people to reflect on the troubling content of other pop songs more publically.
For anyone who missed every aspect of the song, some of the lyrics that attracted the most criticism include:
“I know you want it”
“I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.”
However, even when I was mentally agreeing that “Blurred Lines” was sending a bad message, I remained a little confused – why was this one song garnering so much criticism? It could not possibly compete for the prize of most overtly mysoginist or most creepily rapey lyrics I had ever heard on the radio. So… popularity? That had to be it, right?
Fast forward, like, six months to the arrival of my own personal rape culture hell, “Timber”. It features Ke$ha, Pitbull, and a hook that will haunt you for days. Seriously, fuck this chorus, I cannot get it out of my head – so watch at your own risk.
As you can see, the theme of the song seems to be a mashup of line dancing/rape culture
The chorus says:
“Let’s make a night you won’t remember/ I’ll be the one you can’t forget” – troubling
Then Pitbull adds “One more drink, another round/ end of the night it’s going down” – if “it” is a woman, I will remind Pitbull WOMEN AREN’T THINGS. Even if “it” simply means “us having sex”, a song that encourages heavy drinking pre-hook up is creepy
But obviously nothing can compete with: “Face down, booty up/ TIMBER/ That’s the way we like to WHAT/ TIMBER/ I’m slicker than an oil spill/she say she won’t but I bet she will” – There literally could not be a clearer example of someone disregarding “No means no”.
SHE SAID SHE WON’T PITBULL, GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER
“Timber” spent multiple weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. So here is my problem, or the source of the confusion I am still experiencing: Thicke’s song was bad, but much of the critique cited the tone of the song, the general atmosphere of disrespect towards women and the implication that he knew better than them what they wanted. Pitbull yells “She say she won’t but I bet she will” and there is no outcry. Why? Did everyone expect more from Robin Thicke? (Granted, it’s hard to think of someone I expect less of than Pitbull. I would rather be trapped in a bar with any of the sharks in that video than with Pitbull. I would rather deal with a trained attack pitbull than Pitbull.) Is it that Pitbull is a “rapper” (barely), and that kind of talk is simply more accepted or more expected when it is rapped rather than sung?
I don’t have an answer. If anyone else does, I am all ears.