THE BLOG
26/11/2013 06:15 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Do Not Just Ban Blurred Lines

If anyone else had the pleasure of viewing Robin Thicke being interviewed by Alan Carr on November 9th then it is likely that you have concluded too that he is a midlife crisis incarnate. Robin's smooth and somewhat charming persona has been subject to intense scrutiny recently as his smash hit Blurred Lines allegedly contains lyrics that promote rape. His unconvincing defence has been that he was just trying to write a fun song that reflected what people say in the heat of the moment.

It is fairly obvious that with lyrics such as "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two" that Robin has succeeded at delivering an abhorrent perspective on what constitutes romance. Weighing in at 36 years old, Robin said that he just wants to have fun as he ages and to leave his problems out of the studio. That is all very well until you begin to create larger problems from within it. The main problem being that in a bid to appear 'feminist' or 'socially mindful' a large number of University unions have decided to implement bans.

The issue with banning the song outright from around campuses is that it immediately reduces the legitimacy of criticism. By banning something such as a song because it possesses the potential to justify rape does not leave rape culture addressed. The action of just sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "la la la, I can't hear you" fails to educate people on why it is considered to be a song that promotes a bad message. By doing so you remove the ability of an individual to learn what anti-rape campaigners are trying to teach.

Presented with the opportunity, an individual may be inclined to play Blurred Lines in a public area. Instead of dogmatically preventing them from doing so, leaving them none the wiser as to why they shouldn't, it would be far more productive to sit down and argue with them as the song played. If one from a position of ignorance is presented with what should be a clear and rational exposition of what the song is, then they would acquire the chance to be a better person. Presented with the occasion to play the song again after this heated discussion, with the freedom to either play it or not, it is likely that the individual will then choose the latter. This is because they have learnt and consequentially understood why it has been deemed inappropriate.

Values and truths in society only have authenticity and legitimacy if they are able to stand up unassisted. By enforcing a ban you give cause to the majority to overlook the darker aspects, instead opting to listen as a guilty pleasure or a sign of private rebellion. It has been a common outcry for those who oppose the ban to insist that it violates freedom of expression. It is likely that they are therefore not aware of what the song expresses. This is because they have just picked up on the ban as a thing in itself, not necessarily the actual song. It is this weakness that exposes far more effective ways in which to condemn Robin's song and at the same time really address rape.

One of these more effective ways in which to tackle the song as well as rape culture has been shown by the University of Bristol. Bristol, rather than just banning the song, have decided to only allow instrumental and parody versions. In essence, this allows for the song to still resonate around hallways and classrooms, but without the misogynistic lyrics. By vocalising through alternate lyrics the negative implications of the original song it is assisting in sending an important message. By using the original tune it has struck a familiarity with students to Thicke's version, but has aided in enforcing the realisation that perhaps the actual song is not so good in what it condones in the first place.

By not completely banning the song Bristol have enabled the message of anti-rape campaigners to be vocalised in a way that would not have been able if it were never mentioned or played again. Even though there is still a case to allow the original song in addition to the parodies, it is a better solution. So long as the reasons for disgust at the music is expressed appropriately without violating an individual's right to choose what they listen to, and the ability for them to learn what may not have been clear, then the core issues of rape culture are being met and not just swept under the carpet.