I haven’t written a damned thing for this blog in a wee while, so here’s a quick one. Having just read about Edinburgh University’s decision to ban Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines from being played anywhere on campus, my head spins. This prohibition comes down to elements of misogyny and rape culture being present in the lyrics of the song, and I’m sure the parade of topless women in the video didn’t do much to ingratiate the artist with a certain sect of activism.
This is, of course, ridiculous. Banning media of any variety immediately strikes me as distinctly non-academic, and last time I checked universities are predominately forums for academia and the accessing of information. I’m not trying to suggest that Thicke’s contributions to the world are of even a middling intellectual calibre, but the point stands… universities are more open than this. The Edinburgh University Student’s Association’s decision smacks wildly of amateur activism.
Blinkered amateur activism at that. As if Robin Thicke is the sole banner flyer for an overtly sexualised brand of music. Thicke was of course the unwitting collaborator in the recent VMA controversy that mostly revolved around Miley Cyrus’ utterly bewildering performance, and the young starlet seemed to get a taste for producing the wrong kind of headline. A brigade of commentators have descended upon her release of Wrecking Ball, the video for which features a frequently nude Cyrus again doing strange things that defy explanation.
Well… they don’t quite defy explanation. Sex sells. Whether it’s Robin Thicke’s dancing girls and raunchy lyrics or Cyrus’ rather gaze-averting antics, there is absolutely no mystery or subtext to any of this. Sex sells. Kirsty Haigh, vice-president of the EUSA, spoke to the Independent of a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment but one suspects a case of individual, overly-sensitive, frayed sensibilities. Suspects, mind you, I don’t know and haven’t discussed the matter with Haigh but all the right elements are in place.
For certain feminists, the ones who want to determine the entire narrative of what is permissible for women to do or not do, this must be a tough old world. Do you suspect that the models in Thicke’s video were silently raging against his misogyny? Or is it more likely that they were professionals with the high profile gig and took less issue with their role due to a simple comfort with employing sexuality to create a commercially hot music video? This might be controversial to some, but the controversy is subjective to the point of arbitrary.
Some are at ease with commercial sexuality, others are not. It seems remarkably arrogant for a student body to draw the lines in this sort of thing when the majority of music fans aren’t actually receiving subliminal transmissions on how they should perceive women, but are just enjoying a good dance track. The absurdity of this case is apparent in the fact that the track was shut down in the middle of a silent disco courtesy of EUSA policy. There are infinitely more sensible ways to address the serious issues of sexual harassment and misogyny.
Banning pop tunes is just lazy, attention seeking and frankly bizarre, given what is surely the total void of efficacy in the measure.