Okay, I know this doesn’t pertain specifically to Bro-ness, necessarily, but I had a lot of thoughts about the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” after my girlfriend sent me the link to the DailyBeast article I mention below.
Firstly, on a purely taste-related level, I think this song is fucking awful. Is this serious? “What rhymes with ‘hug me'”? Come on. Thicke’s father, Allan Thicke, was a comedian so I suppose I should let it go (Although Allan was a talented songwriter. Take this TV theme, for example). Not to mention the shameless recycling of the aesthetics of about 10 predecessors (James Brown, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Justin Timberlake, and the French New Wave stylistic choices, where the screen-wide hashtag and balloon-text techniques originated).
I don’t see why “catchy pop tunes” have to be about subjects and value systems that I equate with the degeneration of civilization, and not in a good way.
On a more critically analytical, less taste-related note, I think this song and video are definitely problematic. America has a love affair with “the unspoken,” or “that certain je ne sais quoi” in other people, a sense of pseudo-telepathic communication that only comes from meeting “the one” or, in the case of men, “a one.” By that I mean, men are encouraged to feel like “this chick is [a] one that I want to bang.” (Hey, this IS about Bro-ness after all!) The idea that women ever make the decision to bang, or that that decision is mutual, is taboo as a muthafucka. And the man envisions the woman thinking “I know you want it,” to emotionally justify his own quest for sex.
Women, on the other hand, are encouraged to see “THE one, the one man who will fulfill all of my dreams and give me everything I’ve ever wanted,” and her consent, such as it is, is based on this preconceived transactional understanding of the nature of “giving” a man sexual intercourse (as exemplified in the Kanye song, “Gold Digger”).
Much as the DailyBeast columnist mentions, the women in this video are completely and utterly objectified, having cars running down their backs and tiny stop signs implanted near their nether regions. Also, they cover themselves up a few times as though not actually comfortable with this whole arrangement. Thicke jabbing one of them in the ass with a needle is an act of straight-up violence, as though “getting it” from him is a drug (You’re supposed to drug the girl BEFORE you bang her, bro! [joke]). Altogether, this video sexualizes/”positivizes” inequality in the same way that 99% of modern society’s art and ideology reflect it.
Really, I think it obscures feminist unity (to borrow MacKinnon’s phrase) for feminists to embrace this video and kind of music while advocating for equality in society. Inequality is perpetuated by this kind of song. Period. There are no two ways about it. One of the main clusterfucks in feminism today (and for 30+ years) has been between those that want inequality to end and those that want women to do whatever feels right in bed/in the home/wherever, and for sex to be fun. To put it very coarsely, the problem the latter group makes is conflating inequality with fun, as though sex can’t be fun with true 100% consent and without access to violence. Like, if a woman has a violent fantasy, should she be “granted” it (so to speak) or should her fantasy be, not necessarily condemned by feminists, but labeled in any way as “part of the problem,” a reflection of the internalization of sexism? Hmm. Should she be called mentally ill, wrong, or mixed-up because of it, as women have been getting called for the last million years about every independent thought they might have? The answer to that is no, she shouldn’t. Shouldn’t, then, a man be allowed to engage in violent fantasies upon women? Should he be allowed to view women as targets of violence? Again, the answer is pretty much no. To the overall question, I don’t know, fully. I generally fall on the side of equality, though, and would rather have inequality rooted out. If that means “Archer” goes off the air, so be it.
Why is it so taboo to have naked men in ads and videos and shit? It’s because men control the world and don’t want to look at male genitalia (a very large percentage of them anyway). Additionally, women want to know what pleases men (what men want to look at), and so naked women in ads are also directed towards how women should behave and look in society. By this metric, this video is beyond unacceptable; it’s downright STATUS QUO.
Again, this does relate to Bro Culture because such songs as “Blurred Lines” reflect the idea that women actually secretly WANT to have sex, but only the man is making the decision to actually “do it.” Also known as patriarchy. Sure, in our society, women wanting sex and being sexual beings is taboo, as I mention above. So it is important to depict female sexuality in a positive light as a thing that actually exists. But it is not the MAN’s job to awaken her urge or to validate it or give her permission for it. That’s not equal. The women in this video don’t look like they “want” it; they look uncomfortable, as I said.
This song seems to be a pop success; I can only imagine that a large percentage of its listeners are female. Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but when women embrace this kind of song, it is like giving permission to men to reflect its values, to seek out the “blurred lines” where consent is an unsexy distraction, and by opposing, end them. It also reinforces the idea in women’s heads that sexuality is out of their control, purely existing in the domain of strong, affluent (in the bank or in behavior) men.
In this way, most every song is political in nature. Anyone who says, “it’s just a song” in order to dismiss my concerns is in denial that such ideas and values have any effect on him/her, believing in true individualistic American fashion that our value systems are self-manifested.
But this….is the subject….of another entry….for another time…