Blurred Nudie Lines

Hey, guess what male pop stars are putting in their video these days… Boobs! Hot on the heels of Robin Thicke’s controversial Blurred Lines video, Justin Timberlake has put out an extra-long video for Tunnel Vision featuring, you guessed it, topless ladies. What I have to say about this is — really? That’s all you got?

Let me start by stating that I have absolutely nothing against nudity. Whether in music videos, magazines, or on prime-time tv, I’m down with the human body. What I do take issue with is these men (seemingly) thinking they’ve produced something groundbreaking, like they did something special by exposing the female body. It’s so been done and much better at that, namely by practically every famous male painter of the 20th century (for starters).

The human body can be beautiful and amazing.

The human body can be beautiful and amazing.

Both videos, in their uncensored versions, feature the dudes singing, dancing, and lusting after 3 topless women in beige panties. (I would say the undies are “flesh-coloured”, but even the black model gets stuck with beige.) As in so many pop music vids since the invention of MTV, the men are fully clothed and the women are writhing around sexily. The only remarkable thing here is that the girls are topless instead of in, say, tube tops and booty shorts. Would we perceive them as having more power if they were wearing bikinis? Exactly — nipple coverage does not an empowered woman make.

I want to address Blurred Lines on its own because it has caused no small amount of stir. The word that has come up to describe the video is “rapey.” Obviously, rape culture has to be called out at every opportunity; rape is never okay and it’s a sickening crime that people get away with all the bloody time. So I’m concerned that people are getting upset over pop inanity. Our energy belongs elsewhere and I, for one, never want to hear or read the word “rapey” ever again. Let’s be serious when we talk about violence against women and not haul out some silly made-up word reminiscent of cutesy terms like sunshiny, or headachy. If something is creepy and threatening, we already have a vocabulary for that.

Robin Thicke with one of the topless models in the Blurred Lines video

Robin Thicke with Emily Ratajkowski, one of the topless models in the Blurred Lines video

For me, the song has a very playful, Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up kind of feel to it. If I had seen the video without first reading the critiques, I would have thought the blurred lines in Blurred Lines referred to a [consensual] game of seduction, nothing more threatening (“The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty”). Besides, there are lots of explicitly violent lyrics out there that are genuinely disturbing; in contrast, Blurred Lines is extremely open to interpretation. And given the upbeat vibe of the song, my mind is not inclined to think the worst.

Actually, there’s one person in the video that really sets the tone and makes everything look like a big joke that she’s in on. That’s the white model with brown hair. She really hams it up for the camera and makes the entire premise look dopey. To her I say — nicely done!

As for the Tunnel Vision video, it really looks to me like a desperate attempt at controversy. Maybe the Robin Thicke video is that too, but at least the finished product is a bit odd and fun. Justin Timberlake’s video, on the other hand… well, tell me you were able to watch it from start to finish without yawning at least once and I won’t believe you. Boobies certainly can’t make a lame video awesome and here’s the proof. Whereas Blurred Lines has a 1990s retro kooky feel, Tunnel Vision is like a film student project, real “artsy” like

Emily Ratajkowski with clothes on. Her antics make Blurred Lines at least a little interesting.

Emily Ratajkowski with clothes on. Her antics make Blurred Lines at least a little interesting.

In the end, what I want to tell these guys is this: Madonna already did everything ages ago and she did it better!!! When Justify My Love came out, there was a lot of media panic around the nudity and the bisexuality featured therein. Say what you will about Madonna, but she seemed not only to court controversy, but also to push the envelope and try to expand our collective conception of normality. Justify My Love was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino (who also directed Vanessa Paradis’s Tandem which aired on French language channels in Canada without raising an eyebrow) and is about one woman’s wild night in a European hotel room. The main female character, Madonna, is an active participant, not just passive eye-candy, and she leaves looking very pleased with herself for having had a little adventure.  

So, male pop stars, try and do something special next time, ok? Maybe be a little less like 14 year-olds all excited over chicks with no clothes on and attempt to produce something not just designed for creating media buzz. Also, maybe YOU want to take YOUR clothes off if you’re going to get others to do so… I’m just saying.

Comments

  1. It’s so funny you bring Robin Thicke’s video up as a topic. A few weeks ago, I wanted to download the video because I just loved the beat of the song so much. When I actually saw the video, it got me kinda angry. I just hate it when women are made to look like naked bimbos walking around just for a guy’s pleasure! You said it—if the women are practically nude, I wanna see some naked muscly men too 🙂 This is a constant battle in the media these days and unfortunately, it ain’t gonna change much. It’s too bad, because although I really like those songs, my respect for Timberlake and Thicke have gone down. I thought they would be more classier than that.

  2. Oh yes, I knew that cause I heard it on the radio. But I was surprised when I did hear that. Funny, he has apparently been recording for quite some time, but this song has made him a sensation. I can’t help but to jig to his song.

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