Why We Shouldn’t Ban Blurred Lines
I think Blurred Lines is a horrible song, let’s get that out to start with. Its lyrics appear to condone date rape and the song’s ‘I’ seems to think that if he doesn’t like what someone is saying/doing, he can interpret their words/actions however he wants (“I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it”. And how exactly do you know that Robin, are you a professional in body language? Or did she use semaphore? If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to stick with actual vocal communication).
The video objectifies women and presents nakedness as a legitimate way of men holding power over them – note how all of the men keep their clothes on and, for the most part, stay stood still gazing whilst the women dance around them. It’s also just a lazy, bland video. The song is uninspired and driveless and singing “what rhymes with hug me” does not let you off for being unable to actually think of something that rhymes with “hug me”. I find it offensive – to women, to the art of music videos, to rhyme – but that’s no reason to ban it.
No-one has a right to not be offended. Otherwise, we’d all be able to keep ourselves in our own little worlds, never challenged, never challenging anyone else, just comfortable with whatever it is we feel right now, never hearing or seeing anything to contradict it. And I’m sure there are people who would be offended by all the opposition to Blurred Lines: Robin Thicke, for example, or perhaps people who think that calling women domesticated female animals is fine, and using “pimpin’”, the act of selling people’s bodies for profit, to describe a relationship is affectionate. How should we go about protecting those people from offense?
Here’s a list of things that I find offensive:
– All of those other misogynistic song lyrics. Let’s take an example from Niggas in Paris: “Come and meet me in the bathroom stall and show me why you deserve to have it all”. Shall we ban that too?
– Songs/films/TV shows that make cheap jokes about Christianity. I imagine banning those would be even less popular.
– Jessie J’s desecration of thousands of years of musical advancement.
– People who shove past you in clubs without even trying to apologise or minimise drink spillage. Perhaps marked pathways with a designated arsehole lane are in order.
– Is this getting silly now?
There is an argument for banning offensive material where it might actually cause harm – I wouldn’t want Blurred Lines played to young children, men or women recovering from abuse, or the recovering abusers, for example. I am, however, unconvinced that the song is genuinely harmful to the general public; no-one is going to hear it and think date rape must be okay. It’s a symptom, not the cause and tackling the symptoms in such a way is an expensive, time-consuming illusion of progress.
There’s no reason to ban things that are merely offensive – that comes dangerously close to censorship. This is a university after all, a place of ideas, debate and, hopefully, intelligent individuals who can hear something they disagree with without feeling the need to immediately shut it up. It’s neither mine, nor the University’s, nor the Union’s place to force our opinions on others. We can try and convince them, yes, and I hope we will, but that’s not the same thing. So let’s debate, let’s argue and if at the end of that the DJ in Venue decides they don’t want to play the song, then great.