Blurred Lines is being ‘unfairly vilified as part of a nationwide witch-hunt’

A blanket ban on Blurred Lines would set a dangerous precedent for our student unions.

 

KCLSU have put forward a motion in favour of banning Robin Thicke’s controversial hit Blurred Lines in all KCLSU bars, gyms, spaces and events. This follows similar actions by more than 20 student unions across the country, including a number of London unions, in response to complaints over the song’s sexually provocative lyrics, specifically the main refrain of “I know you want it”. The lyrics have been described by some as sexist and misogynistic, even prompting claims that the song “perpetuates rape culture”.

The song’s lyrics are open to interpretation, and at no point are there any explicit references to rape or violence. US music critic Maura Johnston of Maura Magazine says “[Blurred Lines] is just a cheesy pickup line song and everybody is like ‘No, it’s about forcing a woman against her will’… I didn’t see it and I still don’t.” Thicke himself has defended the song on the grounds that he wrote it about his wife. “She’s my good girl,” says Thicke, “and I know she wants it because we’ve been together for 20 years.”

Regardless of personal opinion on the quality of the song, a blanket ban sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to censorship by our student union. If the lyrics to this particular song are deemed unacceptable, then perhaps we can expect to see further bans in the future. The current popular music scene is filled with songs that may be interpreted as containing similar lyrical themes, so it seems unjust to single out one particular track for a demonising smear campaign with absurd claims that it somehow justifies sexual assault. “Blanket bans on certain songs are contrary to what universities and life as a student should be about,” says Padraig Reily of Index on Censorship. “It’s worrying that young people seem to see censorship as a solution to complex societal issues.”

I believe that our student union should not cave in to pressure to ban Blurred Lines, a song that merely describes an erotic encounter between two consenting adults in a club or bar, something that is sung or rapped about in a large number of songs, and which is being unfairly vilified as part of a nationwide witch-hunt by student unions. The more serious issue of discrimination and sexual harassment on campus should be dealt with without censoring music and publicly questioning the morals of an artist as a result of one interpretation of his lyrics.

16 Comments

  1. Solomon Olukoya

    25 November, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    extremely interesting article.

  2. Emilian

    25 November, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    What does “banning” actually mean? Will I get in “trouble” if I play it loudly on my phone? Has the student council even got this power haha?

  3. Rick

    25 November, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    It’s ridiculous how biased this article is, would have though Roar would at least acknowledge other points of view other than the writer’s, instead of forcing the reader into their own.
    The fact that Thicke says that the woman referred to in the song is his wife doesn’t make the lyrics any less derogatory towards women, and the objectification and dehumanisation from Thicke is still clear in the song. The title in itself is evidently referring to the supposed “blurred lines” between consensual and sex and rape. Lyrics such as “I know you want it” and “The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty” are Thicke telling the girl what she wants rather than her being able to herself, which is present in a lot of rape cases. Allowing the ban to be rejected would send the message that it’s okay to treat girls like less beings who can’t think for themselves and need to be told what they want.

    University areas should be a safe space for all, without forcing people to relive what could be traumatic events just because a few think that their opinions are the only ones that matter.

    • Ben Jackson

      26 November, 2013 at 12:04 am

      This is a Comment article. It is up to the writer whether to incorporate other views.

  4. Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq

    26 November, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Interesting debate but just to point out that in the first sentence the author mentions that KCLSU has put forward a motion in favour of banning ‘Blurred lines’. To make things clear, KCLSU or the Student Council has put forward no motion yet whether to ban this song or not. The Student Council agenda is not even out yet and the meeting hasn’t taken place yet. So this is a bit of misinformation on the author’s part as KCLSU has no official policy on this issue yet. The Student Council motions for the next meeting aren’t public yet so I don’t understand how can the author talk about a motion they haven’t read. And as they don’t know the terms of the said motion, there is no point in mentioning it. I believe a proper discussion on this issue can only take place after the motion is public so that all students know what’s being discussed.

    • Jon Sharp

      26 November, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      My apologies. A bit of inaccurate tense-usage on my part there! To clarify, the motion will likely be put forward this Thursday at the Student Council meeting. Sorry for any confusion!

      • Ned Donovan

        26 November, 2013 at 6:07 pm

        Christ Jon, get it right..

      • Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq

        26 November, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        Thanks for understanding Jon. And just to clarify again, the motion is put forward by individual councillors, not KCLSU. The motions for the coming Student Council meeting are public now so I suggest, have a read of the actual motion here: http://www.kclsu.org/studentcouncil/
        I look forward to seeing you a the Student Council meeting. It should be an interesting debate.

  5. RogueHedonist .

    26 November, 2013 at 6:37 am

    If they consider this sexist they should listen/watch some of the popular rap music videos, its practically porn. And, anyway these days everyone’s got their headphones on anyway; not playing ‘ blurred lines’ isn’t going to change anything for the students, but its the act of banning a song that’s startling. Its not quite ‘ deutschland über alles’ to take such drastic measures.

    First, they want to remove someone’s window from strand for some silly, harmless reason and now this. The KCLSU is turning fascist in its attempt to project itself as liberal and modern. The folks at the union are just bored.

    • Sebastiaan Debrouwere

      26 November, 2013 at 10:10 am

      I would sincerely appreciate it if you’d stop equating KCLSU’s Student Council with ‘the KCLSU’ (same request for the author of the article).

      Any student can put forward a motion to the KCLSU Student Council, such as happened with the Lord Carey motion. The fact that one/several students put forward a proposal doesn’t mean the union as a whole is putting forward this proposal. It does mean that if the representatives you voted for in September pass the motion; it becomes official policy. In other words, there is a proposal; best thing to do is to go to Student Council on Thursday and discuss it. If you disagree with what passed, you can hold your student councilors (http://www.kclsu.org/studentcouncil/meet/) to account.

      So in the future, please refrain of refering to me or the other officers as some kind of proto-fascists.

      • RogueHedonist .

        4 December, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        criticism is an inevitable part of public life.

        There ought to be a facility to dismiss such motions as ‘baseless’, even courts do this. This will save you a lot of time and will help you focus on stuff that really matters. Before you start retorting, take a deep breath and ask yourself does this whole issue regarding ‘ blurred lines’ deserve so much attention?

        • Sebastiaan Debrouwere

          5 December, 2013 at 3:00 pm

          To be fair, not takinga motion is at the discretion of the student council chair. If i could just kick out motions i don’t like it wouldbe very problematic.

          Secondly, I may be in the publiceye, but some terminology is very distasteful.

          Thirdly, there is a criterion like the one you described for charities – it’s calledultra vires 🙂

          Finally, thanks for the advice. I have managed independent breathing fairly well for the past 22 years.If you were implying I comment on a whim – well, my comments are usually quite reasonable so that’s perhaps not really appropriate?

        • Sebastiaan Debrouwere

          5 December, 2013 at 3:03 pm

          Agree on passing valuable, lasting change by the way. That is why I do my job and work on thingslike freezing international fee increases

  6. Mary Ceciley Fraser

    29 November, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Thicke himself has defended the song on the grounds that he wrote it about his wife. “She’s my good girl,” says Thicke, “and I know she wants it because we’ve been together for 20 years.”

    Oh it’s his wife, that’s totally fine then…. WHAT?

    Also, as for “The more serious issue of discrimination and sexual harassment on campus should be dealt with without censoring music and publicly questioning the morals of an artist as a result of one interpretation of his lyrics” surely it’s obvious that the two go hand in hand?

  7. Ryan Browne

    6 December, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    “I know you want it.” “You’re a good girl.” Try to tell me if lines like that aren’t creepily similar to the phrases of a rapist.
    But this, I think, is besides the point. We are clearly in an age where popular culture is a corporate, dominating force that completely stamps out the possibility of any other art catching the public’s attention.
    Crap like this is no different to any of the other sex-obsessed pop songs that have taken over the charts and, consequently, the minds of the masses. People will disregard anything radical today because it doesn’t have a multi-million pound/dollar industry behind it.

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