Robin Thicke’s video: further evidence that we’re romancing the stalker-esque, via The Guardian:
A woman drowning, a bloodied face, a man turning his fingers into a gun and pointing it at his own head: not exactly the stuff of romance! Yet this – along with a bunch of private text messages – is the imagery that makes up the music video for Get Her Back, the lead single from creepy crooner Robin Thicke on his followup to his number-one selling album Blurred Lines. And this is just one song on an entire record dedicated to winning back the affection of his estranged wife, the actress Paula Patton. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned chocolate and flowers?
Thicke’s new album, titled – what else? – Paula, features tracks called You’re My Fantasy, Still Madly Crazy, Something Bad, Whatever I Want and Lock the Door, among others. The disturbing video, released on Monday, features real SMS messages sent between Thicke and Patton, interspersed with images of violence, and ends ominously with a shadowy figure walking off into the distance with these words: This is just the beginning. So far, the video has been called “vulnerable” and“emotional”; album write-ups call Thicke “repentant” with this “romantic gesture”.
I think a more accurate term would be stalker-ish.
The US Department of Justice defines stalking as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact … that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” That definition explicitly includes the repeated sending of unwanted presents and flowers, waiting for a woman at home or school, or making indirect threats. Does selling a music video with a look-a-like of your wife drowning count?
None of us know the ins and outs of the Patton and Thicke’s relationship outside of what’s public – they were high school sweethearts and they have a child together. But romanticizing the creepy and potentially harassing efforts of a man obsessed with this ex sends a dangerous message to young men about what “romance” really is. Hint: it has nothing to do with haranguing and publicly shaming us back into a relationship.
Thicke is hardly alone in his interpretation of what constitutes a grand romantic gesture. Stalking or behavior bordering on such is a huge part of the narrative around romance, especially in pop culture: the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes. 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. From There’s Something About Mary to Groundhog Day, the guy who would do anything to land the girl is supposedly the stuff women’s dreams are made of. (Of course, there’s no room for female protagonists or celebrities doing the same, like, say, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She’d be called nuts in less time than it takes to get through the YouTube ad before a music video.)
It doesn’t surprise me that a man whose hit song sounded like an assault anthem and featured a video full of naked models would attempt to get back his wife via public pressure and a threatening music video. And the Get Her Back video is threatening. From the drowning to the finger gun (threatening suicide is a common signal of an abuser), the video sends a message that Thicke won’t take no for an answer. And that’s not romantic – it’s just downright scary.