Artistic or Pornographic? Robin Thicke vs. Justin Timberlake



Artistic or pornographic? The feud between pop sensations, Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake has hit again.

Robin Thicke’s single “Blurred Lines” has been in the number 1 spot on the charts for four weeks now. It’s been dubbed as the “summer hit of 2013.” Great job Robin Thicke.

That        is         just       awesome.

Now, I have heard this song constantly playing on the radio, as hit songs tend to do. It’s not my favorite song in the world but hey it’s catchy.

The video for “Blurred Lines,” on the other hand, was where I had to pull the reins in on the horse. The unrated version of Thicke’s video has me a bit baffled. Not only is the rated version in essence not a very good video in the first place, the unrated version’s added feature of boobs bouncing everywhere does not make it any better.

First off, the intro scene shows Mr. Robin Thicke depicted lying in a bed with a young topless girl with #THICKE plastered all over the screen. The video proceeds to go further from the posh demeanor of Robin Thicke to the trash around the corner. The video makes no sense. Three girls prancing around and bouncing around so that their boobs can jiggle is not my definition of a good video. Whoever directed this video needs a reality check to what exactly sexy is because this video is NOT.

Some would say that the video is highly sexualized, which I could agree with, but it is honestly more of a JOKE.

(close up shot) Oh, how about I bite my lip now…

(close up shot) Oh, now I’m going to run my tongue over my teeth…

(close up shot) Oh, how about now I put my finger I my mouth and bite it..

(close up shot) Now, I’m going to rub my ass on my chair

(close up shot) Now, I’m going to jump up and down on a stuffed dog

(close up shot) Now, I’m going stick a big syringe in a girls butt.

OK thanks Robin, now I’m going to jump off a cliff.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME! How ridiculous is this. If I was Thicke, I would be embarrassed to even have my name on this video. If I were the models, I would look for another job because if that is how they portray “sexy” then there are in for a difficult career.

If you want sexy, go to D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel?” That is the definition of anticipation and sexy!

Down to serious business. Thicke’s video was pulled from YouTube and now there is an edited version (fully clothed) that can be watched. “Blurred Lines” obviously has no regard for the portrayal of these young ladies and what the video in turn depicts. Perhaps, it’s supposed to be seen as a grand ole time. But to me it misses the mark and has landed itself in the ever-occurring pattern of women being objectified once again. The issue that I will always be forever frustrated with is the idea that it is OK for women to be seen with barely any clothing on while men are wearing a full three piece suit (one reason I will forever love, “Sexy and I Know It” by LMAFO). Thicke’s video is a prime example of the rape culture that society is accustomed to today. The continuous whispering of “I know you want it” to these scantily dressed women shows the clear “rapeyness” of the video. Not only that but at 3:14, in big balloon letters “Robin Thicke has a Big Dick” is spelled out for all to see.

Does that mean that because of said “big dick” that Robin Thicke has the right to parade around naked women?

Apparently, it does. The clear stench of masculinity and male dominance reeks and it is definitely not making me “want it.”

Fast-forward four months and welcome Justin Timberlake.

In lieu of Justin Timberlake’s new video release on July 3rd, “Tunnel Vision” has brought up some interesting conversations and some obvious similarities.  Personally, I am a JT fan so hearing he has a new video of course I’m going to check it out and to my surprise I’m hit with a another performance of barely dressed women.

Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision” video, I would say is different than that of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video. And guess what? YouTube thinks so too. Having first pulled the video from the site to only then place it back shows that there is a clear difference between these two pop stars taste. YouTube now has a discretion warning on the video when a viewer tries to watch it.

In “Tunnel Vision,” the first glimpse of nudity is at 1:34, revealing a woman rolling around on the ground in smoke. The tone of JT’s video is the complete opposite of “Blurred Lines.” JT’s video clearly, a different subject matter than Thicke’s, shows three women (just like “Blurred Lines”), dancing seductively and in a modern contemporary type of way. The advantage that JT’s video has is that it can sell as an artistic piece and is not as vulgar.

Another difference is that Justin  is never physically in the same scene as any of the women. The closet he gets to being in the same space as the women, is when his image is projected on a wall behind them or directly on the women.

It is obvious that JT’s video has way more class to it, but the next question is whether it is still objectifying women?

Some of the lyrics of the song state “I got that tunnel vision for you,” “yeah a million people in a crowded room but my camera lenses only been set to zoom,” “I’m zooming in on you, everything is extra, in the background.” Great lyrics. Makes a girl feel real special! The issue here comes from the way that the video is analyzed. Does JT only have tunnel vision for whomever he is singing about? Is it a woman’s body that causes tunnel vision? Or is it that all the other women in the video do not matter which is why he is separate from them because the women are just extras in the background? It’s hard to clearly say there is a wrong or right to this video.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I stand completely just yet. I can appreciate the portrayal of the women in this video merely because the video is aesthetically more pleasing. It is shot in a manner and lighting that makes the women in the video appear beautiful and sexy versus Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” where the women appear more crude and merely accessories for Thicke.

I suppose I’ll be standing behind JT on this one, although it is an obvious slap in the face to Thicke. JT one upped him on this one, which I’m betting was the idea.

Check out the two videos below and let us know what you think.

Click here for the link to “Blurred Lines.”

*Maya Ealey is a BFA graphic design and BA Advertising student at San Jose State University located in the beautiful south bay area. She spends her  time cuddling up with her computer and getting lost into the world of design and advertising.


6 thoughts on “Artistic or Pornographic? Robin Thicke vs. Justin Timberlake

  1. Whoa, soooo it’s cool for JT && Robin to have vids w| naked women throughout all of the scenes, but when Nelly did “Tip Drill” it was an issue!? Wow! Actually, I don’t see the creativity in either of those videos. It’s pointless. However, they are entitled to structure their craft as they please. But, we shouldn’t be hypocrites. When Nelly’s video was done, America hated him for it. So, why do people think JT’s or Robin’s vids are “art!?” Because these women are “models” and the ladies in Nelly’s vid were “urban models!?” In my eyes, they all were naked! Me personally, I don’t have an issue w| the videos, but I do believe that people should be real and not make an excuse for these videos when they fall into the same category as the infamous “Tip Drill” video.

    • It is true. Nelly’s “Tip Drill” received a lot of scrutiny and was criticized for it’s vulgarity. And for good reason. The video is problematic and pulls out all the stops when it comes to the exploitation of women’s bodies for the benefit/pleasure of men. For me, RT’s video is on the same level as “Tip Drill.” As the author said, the nude women were mere accessories to RT’s fully clothed body. I like the point you make Michaela, which is are these video judged differently as a result of who the models are? Or does it make it difference who the singer is?

  2. I’m a little confused by all this. What is the point of all these naked women in JTs video. Why is it ok? Knowing that we live in an overtly sexist world, why are we making room for and discussing the depth of Timberlake’s artistic expression. I also don’t (fully) understand the argument about the physical proximity of the fully clothed man to the naked women. I just feel like this is a classic case white people and there f’n “art”. May be I just need to back up.

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