But that’s old news. What has people talking now is his twisted new single, “Get Her Back.” Yes, despite dozens of schools banning his music, countless bloggers condemning his last hit and rape survivors speaking out against his lyrics, Thicke has managed to record a song possibly even more warped.
On Monday, Thicke released the music video for “Get Her Back,” purportedly his way of pining for his estranged wife, Paula Patton, who left him after his rumored infidelity. In fact, his new album’s title is Paula, in case she didn’t pick up on the fact that “Still Madly Crazy,” “You’re My Fantasy,” “Lock the Door” and “Love Can Grow Back,” to name a few of the song titles, seem centered on their split-up. You may be thinking, “Hmm, the names of these sound like some kind of abuser’s checklist.” And you’re not the only one.
But the first single from the album has enough stalkerish-ness in it to predict what we’ll hear on the rest of the album, to be released July 1. The song’s lyrics are relatively mild, by Thicke’s standards, but still seem to allude to acts of sexual aggression. A fair assumption, since it’s not like he hasn’t sung words of a similar theme before.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person” and says that it can include “Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth,” “Repeatedly leaving or sending victim unwanted items, presents or flowers” and “Making direct or indirect threats to harm the victim”.
Let’s see here. Naming an album blatantly after your estranged wife? Making public alleged text messages between the split-up couple in a music video? Giving songs aggressive names like “Whatever I Want”? Indicating that he won’t stop his antics until she’s his again? Check, check, check and check.
But in case that weren’t enough, the video itself is quite telling. Thicke spends half the time staring into the camera with his attempt at the puppy-dog face, switching it up with blood and sweat decorating his cheeks. What does this allude to, exactly? Does this mean you’re going to put blood, sweat and tears into bringing your ex-wife back, Mr. Thicke? Surely Winston Churchill did not intend his words as a metaphor for misogyny when delivering his famous speech.
The video also features a naked woman, her body shown in parts to objectify her further, and switches for split seconds to frightening images of Thicke contorting his hands into a gun pointed at his head, a black edifice with an eye peering out of it, a creepy Transformers-like mask and a bloody brain. Are these supposed to be subliminal threats?
Not so subliminal is the text conversation plastered on the screen throughout. Patton—if the messages are, indeed, from her—says things like, “How could you do that to me?” and “You’re reckless.” Meanwhile, Thicke repeatedly pleads for her attention, asking if he can talk to her, if he can see her and telling her he has written an entire album just for her.
Finally, Patton’s supposed text says, “I have to go”, to which Thicke replies, “This is just the beginning”. This is just the beginning? Um, cue the evil villain laugh. In all seriousness, if that’s not a threat, I don’t know what is.
In just a few days, Thicke has already managed to receive a slew of condemnation for his video, song and album. Even one of the more lighthearted and hilarious commentaries, YouTuber DionYorkie’s parody of the song (skip to 1:30), reveals the obvious desperation/creepiness of it all.
In conclusion, a message to Robin Thicke on behalf of Paula Patton and feminists everywhere: Enough already.
Screenshot taken from Robin Thicke’s “Get Her Back” music video
Sarah Collins is a sophomore at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She will be interning for Ms. in the fall.