Yesterday afternoon, superstar musician Pharrell Williams
came out in support of equality for women and
same sex marriage during an interview on The
Ellen DeGeneres Show. Woo hoo! More celebrities adding their powerful voices
to the ongoing fight for equality! But wait a minute — didn’t Pharrell
co-write Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” a song that has been called, among
other things, “sexist garbage”? Didn’t he star in the now infamous music video
that both objectifies women and not
so subtly encourages the idea that, when it comes to sex, “no” really means “yes”?
Oh, that’s right, he did! Curious, then, that he appears to have totally changed his tune.
During his Ellen interview, Pharrell said that his latest album, G I R L, was made to honor “a demographic that had been giving” to him and his family for years: women. He continued:
There’s a lot of inequality with women. You know how that goes, everything from, you know, still to this day, you know, what is it like, 73 cents to a man’s dollar? Like, what is that? The last I heard, the only way that this entire species can come into existence is through the portal of a woman’s body. …We’ve had a space station floating around the Earth for over 20 years; we even have a rover on the surface of Mars. How can we be the same species…that tells women what they can and cannot do with their bodies? How is that possible?
Pharrell is saying all the right things, but does he really
believe them? Back when the “Blurred Lines” controversy was at its peak, he defended the song in an interview with NPR, insisting, even against mountains of evidence to the contrary,
that there was “nothing misogynistic about it.” He must’ve forgotten about
Thicke repeatedly cooing, “I know you want it,” or T.I.
musing on “tearing” a woman's ass in two.
In an interview with Pitchfork earlier this year, Pharrell said that "Blurred Lines'" lyrics
had simply been “misconstrued,” and that the real message is actually about liberating women. The term “blurred
lines” just refers to “good girls” who want to do bad things, it has nothing to
do with consent. But if that were the case, why use the disturbing image of a
woman’s nude backside with a very tiny “STOP” sign on it in the music video?
Why did all the women have to be nearly naked while the men were fully clothed?
Why did Thicke tell GQ that the whole objective
of the shoot was to be “completely derogatory towards women”? No, Pharrell, you're not getting out of this one that easily.
Don’t get me wrong — Pharrell’s views on equality are still welcome, but if he wants to establish any sort of credibility with women or the LGBT community, he needs to acknowledge where “Blurred Lines” went wrong and then accept responsibility for his actions. All he’s done so far is play defense. And now, it’s almost as if he’s acting like the entire controversy never even happened.
I think Pharrell has finally been able to wrap his head around the sheer magnitude of his fame, and now, understandably, he wants to establish a positive public image. That's all well and good, but he needs to apologize first. If his words are sincere, the public will forgive him. But we’re not just going to forget. Just as there are no shortcuts in the fight for equality, there are no shortcuts in proving that you’re an agent of change in this world — you've got to "walk the walk," so to speak. I think it’s time for Pharrell to finally clear the air.
Watch Pharrell's interview with Ellen below.