Staff Editorial: Does Popular Music Create “Blurred Lines”?

The Foghorn encourages greater consciousness of popular culture

Over the summer, the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, featuring Pharrell, gained international success and attention for its catchy tune and, sadly, very conventional lyrics – the latter of which has garnered specific attention due to its controversial nature in what could be interpreted as sexually objectifying women. Last week, University of Edinburgh’s Student Association decided to ban the song from playing in university centers due to this exact reasoning.

This ban complied with the University’s, “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus” policy, which was passed in March. The policy states that “lad culture” (the stereotypical locker room talk) and its promoters “trivialize rape, and by doing [so] contribute to a culturally permissible attitude to rape.” Banning the song from the campus and all university-affiliated events has caused much stir, and discourse, on whether or not the song directly affects the way students behave and interact with each other.

However, the real conversation here may not be focused on whether or not such lyrics have a social impact – clearly they do. This can be seen in the simple example of people justifying irrational actions with “YOLO” from Drake and Lil Wayne’s Billboard chart-topping song, “The Motto.” What should be discussed is how often one suspends their everyday values and principles to endorse music with a wayward message. We generally partake in listening to popular music, and in doing so, we deliberately disengage from the lyrics or the controversial music videos. There needs to be an awareness of the messages that we support as individuals, so that we can draw a divide between participating in pop culture and its impact on worldviews.

Perhaps this is our “blurred line.” As socially and politically aware individuals, we underestimate the social impact these songs have on other individuals who may not possess the same world-views as we do. We assume that everyone is on the same page as us, and therein lies the fallacy.

There is a non-uniform standard of sex etiquette and perpetuating this inequality by blindly backing artists only exacerbates these “blurred lines.” This means that it must be universally understood that ‘no’ never means ‘yes’, and that one does not have the right to continue coercing the object of his or her attraction.

Knowing that most of us probably do not and will not stop listening to our “rump-shaking” music, we must encourage our peers to always be critical of the content of their absent-minded entertainment.

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