It was about a year ago when Robin Thicke’s jaunty hit “Blurred Lines” took over the airwaves and stirred up controversy. Catchy though the song was, its repeated use of lines like “I know you want it” disturbed many listeners who thought the lyrics encouraged rape culture. It didn’t help that in a GQ interview in May 2013, he agreed that the song was degrading to women, but said in his defense, “I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”
Regardless of the controversy, the song blew up and perhaps Thicke’s ego went with it. Some of his behavior in the following months seemed anything but respectful to women for someone who claims to be “happily married” to actress Paula Patton. A photo leaked showing Thicke firmly groping another woman’s backside with an almost penetrating grasp. Other photos show the singer getting up close and personal with yet another woman.
In February 2014, Thicke and Patton separated, but Thicke has been (very publicly) trying to win her back ever since. He claims that cheating is not the cause of the separation. He said, “There’s a hundred different reasons…I changed and I got a little too selfish, too greedy, too full of myself.” I have to imagine that the behavior exhibited in the leaked photographs is one of the hundred reasons.
You might not know this about Thicke and Patton, but they’ve been together for 20 years, married for nine, and they have a four-year-old son. It’s understandable that Thicke would want to do everything in his power to right his numerous wrongs. But his method of spilling the details of his love life into the public sphere, which many have deemed creepy, comes off as manipulative and unfair Paula Patton.
His new album, titled “Paula,” is dedicated to her, and it shows. With song titles like “You’re My Fantasy,” “Love Can Grow Back” and the most recent hit from the album “Get Her Back,” it’s clear that he’s wearing his heart on his track list.
The music video for “Get Her Back” is just a mishmash of bad decisions in the form of an apology. It opens on Thicke sporting a bloodied-nose, perhaps meant to indicate his damaged state, but it almost seems like he’s making himself out to be a victim. It also features scantily clad women rubbing their hands all over his bare chest – not exactly what you would expect from an apology.
But the most upsetting aspects of the video are the overlaid text message exchanges, presumably real conversations between Thicke and Patton. That is not cool. At this point, he has shown a complete disregard for her privacy. I’m not saying his apology is disingenuous – it was probably an act of desperation and poor judgment – but it comes off as an emotional ploy to get fans on his side. Inevitably, some viewers will be swayed, saying, “Aw! This is so sweet! Look how sad he is! She should take him back!” It’s a perverse turning of the tables where the wronged partner is drawn into the spotlight and pressured into giving some sort of response, lest she appear to be coldhearted.
This is perpetuating a problematic idea – that it’s not only acceptable for a man to drag his partner’s personal life into the spotlight, but that it’s brave and romantic, too.
In an appearance on “Good Morning America” on July 2, Thicke admitted he didn’t have a carefully thought out game plan. “I actually have no idea what I’m doing,” Thicke said. And there you have the one sound bite that ties up all of his recent issues in a neat, little bow.
I don’t think Robin Thicke is a terrible guy, but I do think that statement is the most truthful thing he’s said so far. He has no idea what he’s doing, but I can’t think of a better time for him to learn a little humility because until he does, he will continue doing more harm than good to his own image, his marriage and the ideology of his more impressionable fans.