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Dear Robin Thicke: You have something big to prove

Posted by Scott Kearnan  April 4, 2013 04:50 PM

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Dear Robin Thicke,

How are you? I hope you're having a good day. What are you up to? Are you in the recording studio, working on new music? (Is there a duet with your Duets co-judge Kelly Clarkson in our future? That would be swell.) Are you penning some slick new soul songs? Are you riding a bicycle built for two with Justin Timberlake in the French countryside? I hope so. Don't leave the baguette at the hotel this time.

Anyway, I'm sorry to meet you under these circumstances. Because, well - it's about to get a little awkward.

Here's the thing: I checked out the music video for your new single, "Blurred Lines." The Internet told me it was controversial, NSFW, and just banned by YouTube. So obviously, CLICK.

I guess you anticipated that reaction, because you simultaneously recorded this less-provocative version. (I can't post the uncensored one here, but grown-up viewers can watch the explicit, unclothed and non-work appropriate version elsewhere.)

Hmm. I see why the video was banned. The uncensored clip features you (alongside rapper/producers Pharrell and T.I.) frolicking in a bare studio with a bevy of nude female models. Not scantily clad, but nude - well, topless, and bouncing around in flesh-colored thongs. That's the whole shebang. There are some funny props (raise your hand if you're jealous of that banjo), and some jokey dance moves, and a whole lot of willya-get-a-loadda-dem-ta-tas pointing and mugging for the camera. And then at the end, a bunch of silver balloons spell out a bold declaration:

"Robin Thicke has a big [you-know.]."

Which leads me to the challenge I issue. Ready? Okay.

Let's see it.

Cue: the gulp heard round the world.

C'mon, Robin. What's the big deal? I mean, you have to admit, it seems a little odd to drop that bombshell of a brag and then be the only one in your video who isn't naked. Drop 'em. It's 2013. Everyone is doing it anyway. Leaked camera-phone photos from politicians, questionably-leaked sex tapes from celebrities; it's really not a big deal. Right?

I'm sorry if this comes across as forward. But I can't imagine you'd be offended. I mean, look at all the bare flesh on display in "Blurred Lines." The goofy humor of the video - which, by the way, is pretty well done - rests in the total casualness of the nudity. It's NSFW, but NBD. That being your suggestion, it would be awfully hypocritical for you to balk, right? Especially after articulating such bravado.

Okay, okay. You called my bluff: I'd rather you leave your clothes on. Mainly because, if nothing else, you're Alan Thicke's son. And I'd prefer to leave my wholesome memories of the Seaver family intact.

But more importantly, what I really wanted was to get your reaction. Did you feel offended? Embarrassed? Angry? (Did anyone else out there feel that way?)

I bet you hesitated, that's for sure. But why so shy all of a sudden? Those chicks were naked - why not you?

It's funny. You know those stereotypical lovemaking scenes in Hollywood movies? Usually at the end, the actress trots topless from the bed to go grab an oversized shirt and stir some soup. The actor, generally, keeps his Golden Globes covered with a conveniently placed pillow. The same contradiction plays out on television, in celebrity photography, and yes, in music videos: female nudity is commonplace, male nudity is rarely glimpsed and earns a gasp.

There are exceptions, of course. Every now and then an actor goes the full monty for a role, and it makes headlines. But that's the point: it's a Big Deal. Generally speaking, the entertainment world treats female nudity cavalierly, as though asking a woman to take off her top is like asking her to show her elbow. Guys get to protect their junk like it's an ATM PIN.

I guess that's because we recognize, at least on some level, that nudity puts people in a vulnerable situation. It invites people to judge them, gawk at them, rank them on lascivious lists. It has the potential to make them seem inferior to the people next to them, the people with their clothes on.

To be totally honest, I think your video is kind of witty. I think it's sort of self-aware. I don't think it's a coincidence that the song's title is "Blurred Lines." Blurred. Between what? Porn and art. Chauvinism and celebration. Commerce and creativity. (The constant flash of that jumbo #THICKE hashtag was #Funny.) Yeah, I follow. I get it. It's too clever for me to see it as outright misogyny.

And lest there be any confusion, I certainly don't think that nudity is bad. (It's not.) I don't think that showing women naked is always sexist. (It's not.) I don't think that artists, including pop artists, should shy away from pushing boundaries and stick to playing it safe. (Please, no.) But importantly, I do think about these things.

Did you, when you tossed out that big, bold statement? Were you ready to respond if someone actually called you out, and simply asked you to bare for the world the same nudity nonchalantly requested of those women?

If you were, good for you. I'll keep an eye out for the evidence. If not, be more careful with your mouth.

And when in doubt, keep it zipped.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Scott Kearnan (@thewritestuffSK) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and communications consultant focusing on lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment. He's also a part-time smart aleck and buffalo wing connoisseur. "Media Remix" is where couch potatoes meet pop culture criticism. More »

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