There is something missing from the uproar over Miley Cyrus and her raunchy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. Robin Thicke, an accomplice who at the very least drove the getaway car and at the very worst hatched the plot, has apparently escaped relatively unscathed.
I’m not condoning Miley’s disgustingly misguided, or obviously confused, behavior. She’s an adult, and wants to be recognized as one. And this is how she chose to go about it. She is responsible for her own actions. But she’s also someone’s daughter. And as the dad of a daughter I say Robin Thicke, 36 year-old married father of a son, is just as responsible if not more. I know… he’s a recording artist who sings a very sexually suggestive song and I’m being naive expecting a certain level of decorum from such people. Yet, I write on…
What the hell was he thinking participating in this crude dance routine with a 20 year-old—a child, basically? To let this young woman feign coitus while bent over on stage in front of him, as children looked on in the audience and at home? This was planned, rehearsed, and approved by Thicke, his people, and those representing Cyrus. Not to mention the morally bankrupt folks running MTV. They all let it go for shock value. I hope Thicke apologized to his wife and son when he saw them for the time after this “performance.”
His song “Blurred Lines” is wildly popular. Clearly the runaway hit of the summer. It’s this year’s “Call Me Maybe.” You can’t drive five minutes without hearing it on the radio. I admit, I not only find it catchy but also find myself turning it up when I land on it in the car. And against my better parenting judgment I endorse this anthem to misogyny in front of my 6-year old daughter. As does my wife. But mainly because after we heard it for the first time we made up a parody to it about our dog centered around the line “you’re a gooood giiirrirl.”
If and when my daughter hears the lyrics for real and it dawns on her that Blurred Lines is no ode to feminism, as Thicke once tried to explain, I myself will probably have some ‘splaining to do. Or worse, when she sees the video. Either the “clean” one or the—ahem—dirty version that features naked women and balloons spelling out a statement about Thick’s pen!s size. (Don’t click that link if you’re at work or near kids.) Classy. I’m no member of NOW, but I’m thinking this song won’t be played at their Christmas party this year. Just a hunch, as it compares a woman to an animal and implores her to have sex with him because “I know you want it.”
If I’m giving Thicke the benefit of the doubt, he did appear to me to be at least mildly uncomfortable as this child was grinding on his groin area. Or maybe I was the one who was uncomfortable, and I’m just hoping he was as well. Either way, everyone knows what his song is about. So we can all agree it does not proclaim the most wholesome message. But we who listen, for the most part, like it anyway. We like the beat, because it sounds strikingly similar to a Marvin Gaye joint. We dig Thicke’s falsetto. And we embrace the nostalgia of the Fat Albert-esque “hey hey hey” recited throughout the song. We like it so much that the second it lands in the center of a controversy we all point our fingers of shame at Miley Cyrus, who just might have known exactly what she was doing. After all, the number of tweets about that performance the night of the VMAs rivaled the number of tweets about the Presidential election the night President Obama was re-elected last November. Yeah. If that’s the case, then we should blame her for choosing this way to show everyone she’s grown up. But the actual grown-up who wrote, recorded, and performs the song is skating.
We bash the girl for being sexually inappropriate, but exonerate the man. We watch Music Television even though it hasn’t been about music for a long time. We love the song even though we know it’s bad. The whole thing is loaded with double standards.
Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who also blogs at Daddy Knows Less.