Sunday, September 1, 2013

Is Robin Thicke a Prophet?

Yes. Uh, errrr, um, kind of. Before the whole unmentionable controversy last week, I had heard only a few things about this performer. First, that he is the son of the fabulous Growing Pains star, Alan Thicke (brings new meaning to the title of the show). Secondly, that he had recently written a song called "Blurred Lines" that offended some people. And third, that before this he was essentially known for his pleasing R&B brand of music, and not for being particularly controversial. But recently all of the hubbub about he and his song and the awards show got me thinking that he may be striking right at the heart of an important truth. Indeed, he may be a kind of bell weather and a prophet screaming just slightly louder than the rest of the screamers about what happens when we do in fact "blur the lines".

Now when I call Mr. Thicke a prophet I am not suggesting that he is a prophet in the traditional sense of the word. He is more like what I would call an anti-prophet. An anti-prophet is one who utters, or rather embodies, a certain truth about where things are in the world at the present moment, and where they may be going. In other words, as far as I know this man is not out there performing in order to communicate what God wishes him to say to everyone, nevertheless he does reflect some kind of truth about what is going on in our culture. He embodies what is written in the stars (or by the stars), if we continue to go on the road that we are presently on. This sort of "prophet" is able to be one, not because he is brave like a real prophet, but because at this time evil is so prevalent that he is able to be as brazen he wants. "Ha ha ha, look what I can get away with because no one has enough moral courage to stop me!" That is not to imply that there are not those who will still react negatively to such behavior, however, more often than not such a response is toothless and winds up redounding to the benefit of the profiteer (especially when it's a man) rather than hurting him.

But in what sense is all of this libidinous activity truly "prophetic"? In this sense. The title of the song really does tell you just about everything you need to know about its larger significance. And in some ways Mr. Thicke himself seems to get this completely:
"'Blurred lines' refers to the moral ambiguity of flirting with a girl that I know isn’t single. Even if she’s in a committed relationship she’s a “wild animal” with independent thoughts, and thus her significant other doesn’t own her, so is it really all that wrong?"
When you blur the lines of truth and you blur the lines of what you think is right or wrong, you may as well have no lines at all. To do so it is a lot like turning life into one gigantic impressionistic painting, or a Rorschach test, where the reality becomes whatever you are inclined to see at any given moment. Consequently, once those lines are made sufficiently vague the only real purpose for their existence at all is to create the impression that there is still some sort of moral standard, when in truth the standard has been essentially overturned. For this reason, when events occur like the one on MTV the other night, many are quick to call it immoral, when the fact is they no longer have any rational basis for doing so. Why shouldn't people simulate sexual acts on stage? Because it's gross? Because we don't want to see it? Because kids might watch? Why? All this moral outrage is well and good, but since we are so fond of blurring the lines, and creating "50 Shades of Gray", we should also recognize that ideas have consequences, and just because something doesn't personally "float your boat" doesn't mean that another's boats is not made sufficiently buoyant by the whole experience.

When asked about the contents of his controversial song, Mr. Thicke is predictably coy. For example, on the Today Show he responded in classic fiendish style, declaring that he was only trying to "stir a conversation about what's important". I thank him for his kindness in this regard, and I trust that the conversation that he envisions is one in which truth and virtue dance in perichoretic union with one another. It is well worth noting that in these interviews he often feels the need to mention (like some bizarre red herring) how long he has been married to the same woman, as if mentioning his marriage should make us all feel better about the fact that he is treating some other woman like she is on the receiving end of some Deliverance-like experience.  

The only way to prevent this mentality and behavior from becoming the norm is to in fact "unblur the lines" and provide some logical basis for objecting to it. You cannot simply say that you dislike this behavior, you must also make the case for what is clean and pure. Heck, you cannot even say that you like this behavior without also admitting to some sense of what is true and good. Hence, Mr. Thicke is right on the money with his song. And frankly, Ms. Cyrus was right on the money with her "dance" too. As a matter of fact, Mr. Thicke is practically a visionary in this regard, granting us a glimpse into the future of our culture if we continue down this road. Sodomy, bestiality (his words not mine), sexual pain and violence glamorized and glorified. Ahhhh, sounds perfectly delightful! This is the ugly truth behind the subsequent blurring (and ultimate erasing) of the standard of Christian morality. If you have no problem with that then welcome to your vision of paradise; if you are like myself, and are not so inclined to confuse Hell with Heaven, then stand up and fight the good fight. This is why I view the song (and the accompanying dance) as an ominous reminder sent from above (or below) of the impending doom that awaits us if we do nothing. Indeed, it should be a wake up call to all of us of the indignity and the endless twerk-fest that awaits us if we continue to reject the notion that the primary reason we have fallen "off the rails" is because we have lost sight of the simple fact that at one time we were perfectly content to be on them.     

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