Who dictates the 'mainstream'?
Most people have probably become quite familiar with Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' in recent months. It's been playing everywhere and his infamous performance with Miley Cyrus at the VMAs this year only furthered controversy surrounding its lyrics. Lines like ' know you want it and I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two have understandably been deemed as 'rapey' by some.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm a huge fan of Robin Thicke. Apart from being uncomfortably sexy, his sultry R&B voice is exactly the type of music I'm into. So when the song first came out, "THAT'S SO INAPPROPRIATE" didn't really come to mind. But recently, my undergrad university's student union decided not to ban the song, creating quite a stir among some of the students (yes, I've graduated but being up to date with it's currently going-ons is my form of denial that I've left). Anyway - this brought brought up a few thoughts.
It's clear that this song (and the music video for that matter) is a prime example of what some would call 'rape culture'. Apparently, sexual consent can be 'blurred'. And yet, the song has become massively successful, peaking at number one in 14 countries, and is undoubtedly 'mainstream'. Why? Because it's catchy, it has huge stars, and effortlessly stunning girls prance around in their undies.
While the content is questionable - I can't help but think that efforts to ban is is not only fruitless but an attempt to obstruct musical expression. It's unfortunate that the wider public is willing to overlook 'rapey' lyrics for the sake of a catchy beat but to try to control it is also questionable. The wider issue is what mainstream culture nowadays constitutes - not this song. There are countless arguably 'wrong' forms of cultural expression (i.e. snuff films, neo-Nazi propaganda, prostitute-killing video games etc.) but their existence is rested in the freedoms allowed in an open society.
So I'm not saying that this song necessarily deserves the attention that it's received (admittedly, I do like it) but censoring it does not touch the core of the issue. It's great that some groups are standing out and advocating against it and making people aware of what it's arguably advocating. We're all entitled to our opinions but to ban cultural expression is another matter. It's up to the individual and the public to decide what is acceptable and awareness of examples of for instance 'rape culture' should be the only thing stopping people from listening to songs like this.