Disclaimer: Given the nature of content in this article, I must take a stance and warn you before your ears start to burn. The topic of this article involves music that is, or has the potential to be offensive. Sexist, Racist music usually covers a wider perspective than you’re probably aware of. Now that I’ve covered my ground in letting you know that this is probably NOT SAFE FOR WORK, let’s have fun and explore the topic.
Robin Thicky’s Blurred Lines is under a lot of skins. A song that was released over the summer, despite it’s pop like nature, became an involuntary anthem for rape.
Realistically, that was never Thicke’s intention for the song. It’s conception was just two grown up men joking around with Cat-calling to a Marvin Gaye beat. Then the music video was a parade of sexy ladies dancing around all nude like. Their whole point is satire, but maybe the satire is a little too subtle? ‘Blurred Lines’ is the only give away. A give away that you would only know about if they go out of their way to tell you. The moment that you have to explain something, is the moment one should realize that it didn’t quite work. Here’s a quote from director Diane Martel, at least explaining the video [via Jezebel]:
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 [the brunette] 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.
It’s this small group of people who understood how ridiculous the song was, and tried to find a way to make it work. Does the knowledge of the Director being a female change perspective a little bit? Or does it make you wonder why she had to go and make a video like that? Regardless, the satire (no matter how subtle) didn’t quite work, and it’s easy to understand why one would be uncomfortable by the whole thing. But everyone is going to have an opinion.
Asian Girlz is a song that is deliberately offensive, in jest. If you listen to the lyrics, they are really going for it. The satire is far from subtle. They drill it into you enough, where if you have no idea where they’re coming from, you’ll probably be lost in some uncomfortable web.
Huffington Post did a Q&A with the singer of the band, and it’s an interesting read to see where they were coming from. A situation where the band plays to their crowd exclusively. The fans of Day Above Ground enjoy it, because they’re all in on the joke. There is just a problem with putting it online for the rest of the world to see. Those that don’t know the band, and how tongue in cheek the song is, are going to take offence to it. I can admit, with my first listen to song, I was kind of shocked. This also being my first experience with the band, I questioned if that was the kind of music the band was known for. It’s like a weird Sugar Ray version of Steel Panther.
With these two examples above it’s fair to say, sometimes satire is difficult given the subject matter.
While I was researching the topic, there was a song that caught me completely off guard, Jim O’Rourke’s ‘Halfway to a Threeway’
Halfway to a Threeway is part of a 4 track EP, that is beautifully put together in terms of the music. It’s calm and haunting. You could subjectively look at the entire thing as an art piece. But if you listen to Halfway to a Threeway out of context, you get something quite deceptive. While the song sounds beautiful, the lyrics come off incredibly dark.
But, when you take a song like Threeway, and you compare it to something like Blurred lines, The reason why you don’t hear about O’Rouke’s song and be offended by it, is because it’s not pop. It’s not playing on top 40 lists, it’s not in commercials, it’s not everywhere. With very little exposer to the song, it’s not muddled by a thousand opinions. You get to hear the song for what it is, and figure out the meaning of it by yourself.
There was a time when 2 Live Crew was insanely popular because of the kind of music that it was. Kids would sneak a listen to it, because they know they were not allowed. Sexism, and Sexual Taboo is just a part of music because of how artistic the medium is. How we are allowed to view things is changing, and that’s a debate that’s still up in the air. Blurred lines would have been a song perfect for early to mid 90s, because of the generation of kids growing up with that music.
But with rape culture and sexism being one of the largest talking points that the internet always seem to offer, is it really not okay for songs like that to exist? Terrible things happen daily that could be psychologically linked to the media we expose ourselves to, and Blurred Lines seems to have actually uncovered that line. Do we still hate the satire, or do we have a better understanding of why that song exists?
If push comes to shove, and you want to do it right, there’s always B4-4.