Robin Thicke’s “Paula”: He Still Hates Those “Blurred Lines”.

Robin Thicke, along with Pharrell and T.I., came out with arguably 2013’s most controversial song, “Blurred Lines”, about this time last year.

Now the son of Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke is back with a whole new album about his estranged wife, Paula Patton, entitled simply, Paula.

Thicke was caught with his hand on a female fan’s bottom and allegedly followed this up by cheating on his high-school sweetheart Patton, with whom he’d been involved for 21 years and has a son. The unflappable Patton seemed to take the split in her stride, at least compared to Thicke, who’s taken to social media and radio waves in an attempt to win his former ladylove back.

The fact that his forthcoming album’s tracklist consists entirely of breakup-and-makeup songs is supposed to be romantic, but to the discerning eye, Thicke’s predation that was front and centre in “Blurred Lines” has come to the fore yet again.

Not only does his public begging read as more desperate than romantic, it publicly shames the other party who’s chosen to deal with the dissolution of their marriage in private.

But we all know Thicke’s favourite pastime is to “degrade a woman” and that’s exactly what he’s doing with this ill thought out album. For some perspective, the titular woman filed for divorce from Thicke in February this year, and the album’s first single, “Get Her Back” was released in May, giving Paula a lead-time of three months. And it has only been a year since Thicke’s previous album, Blurred Lines, featuring the rape anthem of the same name, came out.

The actual Marvin Gaye medleys that Thicke has become so well known—and taken to court—for and that make up Paula aren’t the worst in the world, but it’s when listeners pay mind to Thicke’s lyrics that the album really starts to run into trouble. The calypso rhythm of “You’re My Fantasy”, for example, can’t rescue it from this little ditty: “Your legs on my walls/Your body’s on my ceiling”; while Thicke makes reference to the cheating rumours on the Motown-y “Black Tar Cloud”, crooning “I thought everyone was gonna eat the chips/Turns out I’m the only one who double dipped”. (Thanks for that visual.) The mumbly “Forever Love” is luckily accompanied by a lyric video because Thicke’s enunciation is so poor it’s hard to sing along like the 14-year-old sung along in Patton’s ear to Stevie Wonder’s “Jungle Fever” upon their first meeting as teens in early ’90s Los Angeles.

“Get Her Back”, the earwormy lead single is arguably the album’s only redeeming one however its problematic video, featuring scrolling text messages that we’re to believe were sent between Thicke and Patton atop close-up shots of a fake-bloodied and allegedly crying Thicke being groped by masked women who look marginally like Patton before they plunge head-first into cavities of water, references intimate partner violence, like much of the album.

Thicke carried out a thick (so to speak) and fast social media campaign for Paula, including the hashtags #GetHerBack and #AskThicke, which ultimately backfired in a flurry of negative feminist press. Thicke even went so far as to engage in a cross-promotion with 1800-Flowers, for which the “Get Her Back” bouquet will set you back a cool $350—but it comes with a free digital download of Paula, so you’re actually saving money. But it would seem that many music consumers are holding on to their pennies this time around: just 530 fans in the UK and a dismal 54 in Australia forked out for Paula.

Thicke might not be a one-hit wonder (remember his 2002 debut, the equally as rapey as “Blurred Lines”, come to think of it, “When I Get You Alone”?), he proves that perhaps sex was the only thing that sold “Blurred Lines”.

The Hollywood that Thicke grew up in would have us believe that male persistence is the way to a girl’s heart: “the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes,” writes Jessica Valenti for The Guardian. “You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series—books and movies—to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination.” Real life headlines about intimate partner violence suggest that stalking is more deadly than romantic.

Further to that, Alyssa Rosenberg writes over at The Washington Post that “the simple fact of male persistence ought to be enough to bring a woman around to loving him”, while Clem Bastow asserted on Daily Life that Thicke’s quest to “Get Her Back” is “about the feelings of the man in question, not the woman he is searching for or seeking to reconcile with”.

But that’s Thicke’s pattern (pardon the pun); he’s crafting a pop cultural narrative where he’s the ultimate NiceGuy™ and if Patton continues to reject him she’s a cold-hearted bitch. And if Thicke was hoping for a deluge of sales to help him convince Patton to take him back, he’s sorely underestimated the public’s keen nose for desperation.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Robin Thicke Cheated on His Wife, Claims Socialite Lana Scolaro.

[HuffPo] Marvin Gaye’s Family & Robin Thicke’s Label Settle in “Blurred Lines” Dispute.

[Time] Robin Thicke’s #AskThicke Hashtag Completely Backfired.

[1800-Flowers] Robin Thicke Flowers & Music Download.

[Vulture] Which Country Hates Robin Thicke the Most?

[The Guardian] Robin Thicke’s Video: Further Evidence That We’re Romancing the Stalker-Esque.

[WaPo] The Real Problem with Robin Thicke’s Creepy Attempts to Win His Wife Back? They’re Boring.

[Daily Life] The False Romance of “Winning Her Back”.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I’m writing about reconciling my feminism with a love of professional wrestling for TheVine.

While Beyonce may be the female version of a hustler, Clem Bastow writes that men can certainly be divas, too. It’s just that they’re never called that… [Daily Life]

In praise of The Mindy Project. [Medium]

Rapper Kitty Pryde unpacks the onstage sexual assault by a female fan of her male tour partner, rapper Danny Brown. [Vice]

Check out the latest online edition of ZINm magazine, by my friend Marc Bonnici, and contributions from yours truly and the woman who designed the artwork for this here blog, Zoe Meagher.

What the tabloids were speculating Angelina Jolie was doing while she was actually getting a double mastectomy. Sickening. [The Cut]

Not as gross as the trolls who are “mourning the loss of Angelina’s curves”, though. [Slate]

“An Open Letter to White Male Comedians.” [Jezebel]

Does Australia hate intellectuals? I tend to lean towards the affirmative. [Daily Life]

What the spate of cancellations means for the representation of gay people on television. [Slate]

Test the gender balance (or imbalance) of your retweets. And while you’re at it, follow me! [Twee-Q] 

Searching for an alternative name for “stay-at-home dad”. [The Atlantic] 

In response to the body- and slut-shaming surrounding Teen Mom Farrah Abraham’s porno, Jezebel reiterates that vaginal and anal sex don’t make you “loose” [SFW].

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Victoria’s Secret and Photoshop: first you see it, then you don’t. [Jezebel]

If you’re an anti-feminist woman maybe you should be evicted from the house that feminism built. [Dammit Janet]

The case against freedom of opinion. [The Conversation]

Why Beyonce is a phony. [TheVine]

“Top 10 Most Obvious Halloween Costumes”, with a special mention to option number two, which inevitably has an outing every year. But here’s an idea: how about combining Presidential politics and dogs in costumes to create Mitt Romney strapped into a cage on top of your canine? Already been done by the marvelous minds that enter the annual Tomkins Square Park Halloween dog parade, but nevermind: I’m still dressing my dog up as this! [TheVine,  HuffPo]

Why is the “colour” of Rihanna’s fragrance—called Nude—so white? [Sociological Images]

Surprise, surprise, Taylor Swift is not a feminist:

“I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

As the article points out, not only does she not know what feminism is, but her music is purely about guys versus girls and how poor little innocent Taylor had her heart broken by a big bad boy. You know, when she’s not slut-shaming and perpetuating a heteronormative Romeo-chases-Juliet-in-a-castle ideal of relationships. [Jezebel]

Clem Bastow unpacks Caitlin Moran’s Twitter gaff about the racial diversity of Girls. [Daily Life]

Who knew Eva Longoria is more than just a “boring pretty person with bouncy hair”? In fact, she’s chair of the committee to re-elect Barack Obama and retweeted a controversial statement related to voting for Mitt Romney. You go, girl! [Jezebel]

Image via Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The iconic photograph of “The Kissing Sailor” may actually be an image of sexual assault. [Crates & Ribbons]

Let’s put more nudity on Page 3, not ban it:

“… I say the answer is more nudity in newspapers, not less. Put more boobs on Page 3, and add some cocks too. Show people of every size, shape, colour, gender and sexuality; let them speak in their own voice, and celebrate them all. That, rather than self-censorship of adult-oriented content, would be a progressive tabloid revolution worth fighting for.” [New Statesman]

While I don’t agree with most of her sentiments, Clem Bastow makes some interesting points about the inclusion of men in feminism. This was also a topic that came up during the abovementioned “who’s-a-feminist” debate with my friends. [Daily Life]

Let’s stop debating the “culture wars”: people deserve rights. The end. [Jezebel]

Julia Gillard’s Question Time smackdown against Tony Abbott and the liberal party’s sexism and misogyny primarily against her gets the New Yorker treatment. In a nutshell, maybe Obama could take a page out of her book?

Michelle Smith’s Wheeler Centre Lunchbox/Soapbox address on girls in culture, both now and in the Victorian era. Wait, they’re not the same thing?!

I’ve been embroiled in a “I-don’t-believe-in-feminism-I-believe-in-equality” debate this week but, as Ben Pobjie rightly points out, when it comes to Kate Ellis being talked over and shouted down on Q&A, it’s about human decency, not feminism. [MamaMia]

Jill Meagher and safety on the streets from a disability point of view. [ABC Ramp Up]

The case against condom use in porn. [Jezebel]

In defence of Mean Girls‘ Janis Ian. [Rookie]

Brave isn’t “Just Another Princess Movie”. [The New Inquiry]

Image via Tumblr.

TV: The Problem with Smash.

This post was originally published earlier in the year when Smash first aired on Foxtel’s W, now SoHo.

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Related: The Problem with Smash. 

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via Crushable.

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods*.

For a movie that was shot in 2009, The Cabin in the Woods surprisingly has its finger on 2012 zeitgeist’s pulse. Zombies, The Hunger Games-esque sacrifice, and a Hemsworth brother. But would you expect anything less from a Joss Whedon film?

I will give Whedon and fellow writer Drew Goddard credit for throwing pretty well every horror movie trope at the wall to see what sticks, as Clem Bastow puts it in her favourable review, but I just found it too unreal to suspend my disbelief, if that oxymoron makes sense.

But overall, I thought the premise was a clever one, it just wasn’t executed to my liking (the group of friends I went with all enjoyed it, however). I thought the group of five youths, which we are told are crucial to the story; the spooky setting; and the stereotypical characters (the whore, the virgin, the scholar, the jock and the clown) worked well to lull the audience into a scary movie state of mind. At this point I thought The Cabin in the Woods would be more like Scream; in what way I’m not entirely sure, as I’m still reeling from the violent severing of this idea from my imagination by the second half of the film.

This is where every horror movie villain, with an emphasis on the super natural, comes into play as the characters realise that the “inbred, redneck zombies” aren’t the only terrors they have to deal with: there’s some kind of government body orchestrating the events not just at the cabin, but in similar settings all over the world, whose employees take bets on which villain will be the death of them (head of the operation Hadley has his heart set on meremen. This will later come back to haunt him.) and offer up each fallen archetype as a sacrifice. Any similarities with The Hunger Games (sacrifice! Surveillance! A Hemsworth!) end here, though, when it is revealed that the sacrifices are for anything but the government: they’re to prevent the ancient gods from revolting and overrunning the earth as they did in ancient times.

The voice of reason, Truman (a reference to The Truman Show?), seems to be uncomfortable with his role in the sacrifice, and asks a fellow worker, “Should you really get used to monsters, magic and zombies?” It’s a poignant commentary on our desensitisation to violence: that the government is so willing to offer up five innocent youths as a sacrifice for the greater good is both sickeningly common and, for the sake of the story, noble. This is a sentiment Sigourney Weaver, who makes a fan-boys wet dream surprise appearance as The Director, reiterates at the bitter end.

Proving the virgin stays alive til then (in the vein of Scream’s Sidney Prescott and Halloween’s Laurie Strode, “the virigin’s death is optional, just as long as it’s last” and she—it’s always a she, because women are the ones who should suffer for the rest of their species’ carnal sins, right?—suffers), Dana and stoner Marty (the fact that his pot-smoking cancels out the effect the government’s manipulation has on him could be seen as a pro-stoner statement) piece together the fact that they’re trapped in some kind of “reality show”, and that Dana’s basement reading of a young girls’ diary from 1903 in which her father murders her family was the “choice” the group made as to which villain(s) would come after them. Later, when the two find a loophole and break into the government headquarters, they come face to face with just how many other options they could have “chosen” in the basement.

This is where I think The Cabin in the Woods failed. It was just too much. I loved that they used Anna Hutchison’s Jules as a modern-day Tatum Riley or sorority girl CiCi from Scream and Scream 2, respectively, and Chris Hemsworth, who at the time was a little known Aussie actor, and is now an avenging megastar, as the Janet Leigh or Drew Barrymore of the effort. I also loved that unless the characters “transgress” and buy into the tropes they’ve been manipulated to succumb to, they can’t be punished”. Stoner Marty points this out when he marvels at Jule’s sudden sluttiness and Hemsworth’s Curt’s alpha-male act. I think they could have played a bit more off of this, or the reality TV angle, instead of going the whole hog with government cover-ups, supernatural massacres and ancient god uprisings. Sure, it’s been done before, but I think The Cabin in the Woods had the potential to be the best in this genre. Instead, it’s created a genre of its own. To some, this is better.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

 

 

 

Related: The Hunger Games Review.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism!

Elsewhere: [The Vine] The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review.

Image via IMDb.

TV: The Problem with Smash.

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via IMDb.