|"Don't worry, ladies. This totally isn't creepy at all. Trust me, I'm Robin Thicke."|
For a moment after I watched the video, I was worried I was the only one that was reading creepy stalker tendencies into Robin Thicke's latest offering.
From his aptly named album Paula, "Get Her Back" is just disturbing.
Jessica Valenti touched on the disturbing scenes:
A woman drowning, a bloodied face, a man turning his fingers into a gun and pointing it at his own head: not exactly the stuff of romance! Yet this – along with a bunch of private text messages – is the imagery that makes up the music video for Get Her Back, the lead single from creepy crooner Robin Thicke on his followup to his number-one selling album Blurred Lines. And this is just one song on an entire record dedicated to winning back the affection of his estranged wife, the actress Paula Patton. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned chocolate and flowers?Whatever happened to chocolate and flowers, indeed.
At one point, not only is the woman drowning, but the image of Thicke actually ripples--like he is above the water. Not so subtly, one could interpret that as a woman looking up at him from underwater...while she's drowning. More subtly, it could be spun as an attempt to paint him as representing safety, a way to get your head above water. Regardless, it's disturbing.
iMessages (I did not misspeak) that imagine a conversation between Patton and Thicke: “You embarrassed me,” fake Patton says. “I wrote a whole album about you,” counters a very real, very threatening Thicke. The whole thing is messy, depressing, and pathetic. And I feel no sympathy for Thicke, not least of all for his past lewd and insidious behavior, but because this sappy, syrupy desperate attempt to get his wife back seems ill-intentioned and self-centered."Ill-intentioned" and "self-centered" for sure. They also describe it as not "genuine"--and I agree.
I can't speak for Paula, but I'd be mortified.
Bustle argues that it's not fair to Patton, and I also agree:
Is the exploitation not totally evident? Regardless if Patton is at all moved by such a gross and gaudy display of “grief” (and she honestly seems like she’s smarter than a box of rocks, so she won’t be), Thicke probably will still make money off of this album. At the end of the day, his girl’s probably not coming back, but he’s got money in the bank. Beyond that, though, the implications of the video and the song and presumably the rest of the entire album dedicated to Paula Patton are that Thicke’s very happiness hinges on Patton’s return. It’s unfair of him to put their private relationship on such a public pedestal, making a whole album detailing the dissolution of their relationship, when it seems like Patton (who hasn’t yet responded to the video for “Get Her Back”) just wants to be left the hell alone.As Valenti points out, this is hardly a new idea:
Thicke is hardly alone in his interpretation of what constitutes a grand romantic gesture. Stalking or behavior bordering on such is a huge part of the narrative around romance, especially in pop culture: the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes. You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series - books and movies - to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination. From There's Something About Mary to Groundhog Day, the guy who would do anything to land the girl is supposedly the stuff women's dreams are made of. (Of course, there's no room for female protagonists or celebrities doing the same, like, say, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She'd be called nuts in less time than it takes to get through the YouTube ad before a music video.)It's one more reason why (and I'm a parent, so bear with me as I relate this back to parenting) we need to be involved in the media that our kids are consuming. We need to be listening to the music, we need to be watching the movies, we need to be reading the books. It's crucial that we are engaging with this media and creating a dialogue about what healthy relationships look like--for young men and young women. As long as there is room in mainstream media for the consumption of messages like this, we'll need to be ready to stick our noses in and say, "Hey, that's not how the real world works."
Valenti asks, "When will stop letting men sell public shame as love?" It's a fair question and one that there's no answer to currently.
Hopefully, the answer is "now".