Part of me is wondering why I’m even here. After both the clothed and naked video versions of last summer’s coercive sex anthem “Blurred Lines,” I think we’d all be far more shocked if Robin Thicke were to manage to make a video that WASN’T creepy as hell.
“Blurred Lines” was creepy for its absolute failure to understand the concept of satire and its squicky casting-couch vibe (nothing against the girls who participated, mind -- they’re all gorgeous young women). Thicke’s follow-up, released yesterday, is a video for “Get Her Back,”
which is evidently a plea to Thicke’s estranged wife, Paula Patton, who left him amidst rumors of infidelity. Indeed, Thicke has named his whole as-yet-unreleased album “Paula” in her… honor? Memory? I don’t know. In the absence of the album itself, we have this video to give us a sense of what to expect when the full story drops on July 1.
CREEP MOMENT #1:
I'm going to be generous and assume that Thicke is playing a role here, so keep that in mind throughout this commentary. The video begins with images of a mildly scratched and bloodied Thicke, which come and go throughout, and which would seem to imply that being left by someone you liked being married to is just like being punched in the face.
It’s like the BLOOD on his FACE represents his pain in a way you can see it! And it’s not at all weird or creepy in terms of evoking domestic violence. Thicke is the real injured party here, let no one forget.
CREEP MOMENT #2:
The text bubbles in this video seem to represent things said (or texted, I suppose) both by the errant lover Thicke wants to “get back,” and responses from Thicke himself, but with several of them, the lines of origin are, well, blurred, as they seem to be things that might have been said by either party.
Also, many of the text bubbles are spookily reminscient of the kind of language abusers use with the people they abuse. In this case, the above example could be an accusation from the wronged lady, but it could also be Thicke asserting, “It’s your fault this happened -- you pushed me to it.” I really can’t believe this is just a funny coincidence.
CREEP MOMENT #3:
“...Or I’ll kill myself. Or maybe I'll kill us both. You’ll never be sure until it happens, LOL!”
CREEP MOMENT #4:
If you write a whole album about your wife because you guys are in love and together and everything is great, that’s fine. If you write a whole album about your wife who is in the process of divorcing you, that’s starting to cross over into John Hinkley, Jr territory.
Dude, this is not helping. Don’t you have any friends? Those people who were all, YEAH DUDE, MAKE A WHOLE ALBUM ABOUT YOUR OBSESSION WITH YOUR ESTRANGED WIFE WHO IS OBVIOUSLY DONE WITH YOU, those are not your friends.
CREEP MOMENT #5:
Fake tears: check.
CREEP MOMENT #6:
Wow, extra credit for context-free head-feathers.
CREEP MOMENT #7:
Self-serving fantasy in which beloved estranged wife is missing you as much as you are missing her, and she just needs to stop being so stubborn, girl: check.
CREEP MOMENT #8:
The text bubbles get even creepier as it becomes evident that they could just as easily represent things Thicke is saying to his absent lover as things she is saying to him. She might be saying, “You ruined everything,” by cheating, but he could also be suggesting that she ruined everything by dumping him over it, when HE IS REALLY VERY SORRY AND SAD AND ENTITLED TO FORGIVENESS (see #5).
CREEP MOMENT #9:
Wow, such extreme contrition. It’s like DROWNING. I guess waterboarding was off the table.
CREEP MOMENT #10:
Finally, something I can relate to. Still, from Thicke's character's perspective, the skull-mask imagery could be read as suggesting that the woman in question is not herself -- that she is either putting on a monstrous, unfeeling façade, or that she is in fact a monster who enjoys hurting our, um, hero. Bonus extra credit from the MRA crowd, yo.
CREEP MOMENT #11:
“I’ve gotta cherish her for life,” which maybe won’t be that long after all because in this terrible fantasy world she is drowning too. Also WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?
CREEP MOMENT #12:
Seriously, someone said, "Let's conclude with a spreading cloud of red stuff in water that looks like blood after we've had multiple images of a woman flailing and drowning." It's an ominous choice, if not overtly threatening.
CREEP MOMENT #13:
Oh hooray, because what the world needs more of is entitled dudes demanding love and forgiveness of the women they’ve hurt. I was literally just saying that the other day.
I will acknowledge that it’s conceivable that Paula Patton herself has given her blessing to this project and fine with it -- I don’t want to ignore that possibility. But even if she were, the fact remains that this video’s message is one in which a woman is something to be “gotten,” that she ought to feel ashamed and sorry for hurting a man who allegedly loves her so much -- SO MUCH that he is willing to make a whole media roadshow about it to coerce her into accepting his apology without regard for her own actual personal feelings on the matter, and the selfish behavior that caused the breakup in the first place. If Paula Patton and Robin Thicke are down with that privately, that’s one thing, but creating a video (and therefore, a cultural conversation) that basically suggests that this is a cool way to get the woman you want to do what you want, that’s a problem.
Let’s not forget, after all, that “get her back” has multiple meanings.