Last week, Robin Thicke's soul-heavy, R&B-soaked "Blurred Lines," became his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. But some critics are looking more closely at the lyrics and the now banned video for the song.
To them, it seems more than a little icky that America is currently rocking out to an anthem about the blurred lines between what a mostly naked lady says about sex and what she actually wants.
The naked ladies in question here are Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M’Bengue and Elle Evans, models whose boobs are on full display throughout the unrated version of the video.
As The Daily Beast points out in a piece asking if the song is too "rapey," it's a little odd that Thicke and his collaborators, T.I. and Pharrell, get to wear pants, shirts and even jackets while the objects of their desire (key word: "objects") dance around with farm animals wearing nothing but flesh-toned thongs.
And sure, maybe we're desensitized to onscreen female nudity in situations where men remain clothed. But check out the lyrics:
"I know you want it / You're a good girl / Can't let it get past me," Thicke croons. "I know you want it / But you're a good girl / The way you grab me / Must wanna get nasty."
So basically, you "must wanna" have sex with Robin Thicke, you're just not saying so?
The tune gets nastier as it goes on, courtesy of a graphic Ying-Yang Twins-esque verse from T.I. and more lots of lines about how Thicke hates "these blurred lines" and knows "you want it."
"Basically, the majority of the song (creepily named 'Blurred Lines') has the R&B singer murmuring 'I know you want it' over and over into a girl's ear," gripes blogger Lisa Huyne, via The Daily Beast. "Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity … Seriously, this song is disgusting — though admittedly very catchy."
When Thicke posted the unrated, nudity-filled version of the video on his Facebook page, he was greeted with a storm of negative comments, mostly from users with female names.
Comments ranged from calling the video "a waste of energy and talent" to "[it's] disgracing ... to use naked models" to "Robin, you're an intelligent man, I believe you can do way better."
Another user, meanwhile, tried to stick up for Thicke, writing, "all you plastic pseudo feminists moaning about the nudity of the women in this video seem to have missed the fact that they look like they actually really enjoyed themselves."
Still, some critics are shrugging their shoulders on the implications of both the words and video.
Dusting off his SAT word skills, a male writer at the Village Voice referred to the whole thing as "frolicsome ribaldry."
And former Idolator writer Maura Johnston has reportedly said that because Robin Thicke isn't threatening -- and because the topless model-version of the video is a tried and true a PR stunt -- Thicke gets a pass here.
As for Thicke's own rationale, he told VH1 that the controversy was all part of the fun.
"We pretty much wanted to take all the taboos of what you're not supposed to do," he explained, "... bestiality, you know, injecting a girl in her bum with a five-foot syringe — I just wanted to break every rule of things you're not supposed to do and make people realize how silly some of these rules are."