I ran across a post in Facebook yesterday relating to singer Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” song and video. People are objecting to what they see as misogynistic art being nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards – Best Collaboration, Best Male Video and Video of the Year – and have launched a petition urging MTV executives to withdraw the song immediately and stop “rewarding rape culture.”
First of all, I didn’t know MTV was even involved with music anymore – I thought the network that brings us Jersey Shore, Teen Mom 2, Teen Wolf, Girl Code and the salacious Spring Break and Real World phenomena left genuine music (and good taste) behind decades ago. I also had no idea that anyone over 23 gave a rodent’s derriere about MTV awards (except for pandering music celebrities itching to sell records or jumpstart/revive their careers). I know I don’t.
Incidentally, when I told my 12-year-old that MTV used to be about music, he replied, “It did? What happened?” Good question, Bryant.
Secondly, I’ve never been a fan of censorship, regardless of what’s being censored. Of course I oppose rape and I’m not crazy about the objectification of women – I personally know more than a few of ‘em myself and am even related to some. I also oppose slaughtering dolphins, hunting elephants, evicting the homeless from downtown bus stations, tearing down historical buildings and paving paradise to put up parking lots. But it just doesn’t feel right to try to shut down objectionable Facebook groups and tell private entities what they can and can’t say and sell. At the risk of sounding like a GOP politician, I say we let the market decide. If people want to buy, watch or express something, who am I to tell them they can’t? (Obviously this excludes semiautomatic firearms, kiddy porn, methamphetamines, Ted Nugent CDs and shouting “Fire!” in crowded movie theaters.)
And anyway, if we’re going to try to clean up television, Honey Boo Boo and her unsettling family deserve to be yanked off the air long before awards shows in my view.
Third, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think online petitions are all that effective. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort or conviction to type 35 keystrokes and click “enter” – and what’s to stop someone from signing several times using aliases and secondary or fictional e-mail addresses? There may be statistics out there to support going this route but I haven’t seen any. I’m clinging to the belief that a personal letter is more persuasive than being number #47, #6,719 or #920,123 on a roster of electronic slacktivists.
I remember joining millions of others who took to the streets in cities around the world back in February of 2003 to persuade Dubya and his ilk not to invade Iraq. (Some experts estimate that 36 million people took part in almost 3,000 protests all over the world in the first quarter of 2003.) We started bombing Baghdad a few weeks later anyway (and ended up spending over $800 billion on that war alone). If 36 million people physically blocking traffic around the globe don't have an impact on the shot-callers, do you really think an online list of signers from the Flyover States does?
When I showed my daughters the tamer version of the video, my 13-year-old said it was stupid and explicit and she didn’t like it, my 10-year-old found it “inappropriate” and “not that good” and my eight-year-old said she wished “there weren’t any girls in it.” Rather than taking part in a censorship campaign, I just need to trust my kids’ discerning taste.
And people need to learn how to pick their battles and turn off their televisions.
If you insist on seeing for yourself what the hubbub’s all about, here’s the milder version of the video (click here for the explicit version):
UPDATE: I just ran across this funny parody video: