Screenshots from "Get Her Back"Oh it’s awkward. That thing where you get famous by telling everyone you’ve got a big dick, and then you end up all alone and reduced to making a concept album about your wife leaving you and your big dick behind, which is what has happened to Robin Thicke. Remember him, the biggest popstar of last year, who sang "Blurred Lines" and put out a video where he spelled out his manhood in inflatable letters, and where titty girls danced around him to emphasise the sheer power of his genital-related animal magnetism?
The song was huge, becoming the biggest-selling download in UK history, and the video annoyed people with its Page 3-style romp, and lyrics that seemed to be about pushing a woman to do something she didn’t want to do. Some universities banned it, but most clubs couldn’t get enough of it. I even put it on when I DJed at a feminist club night starring Amanda Palmer, because I am a terrible human being who thought it would be funny. (People ran across the dancefloor and made me take it off. They were delighted when I played Michael Jackson, though. A man accused of abusing several kids. Ronan Keating was right – life is a rollercoaster.)
And so the man Thicke became a superstar at a relatively late point in his life – already pushing 40, married with a son and a mortgage and a backlog of soft-porn fantasy cheques to cash at the celebrity wank-bank. He did next what anyone who finds themself in that position would do – he blamed the video on his wife, said he only released that version because she liked the toplessness, and then went twerking with Miley. Then he got caught fondling a fan, kissing another woman and all sorts of mini-sleaze until his wife said you know what, this is getting more embarrassing than the fact you dress like Simon Cowell having a mid-life crisis in Burton, maybe your big dick is in inverse proportion to the size of your thinking organ – we’re through. So she left him – and now he has vowed to win her back. By writing his new record all about his dick.
Alright, so the album is ostensibly about Paula, as we know because it has the title Paula, and the first song is about trying to get her back, as we know because it’s called "Get Her Back". And because it has a video, just released, which shows his bleeding, crying, tortured face with text messages pinging back and forth across the screen between a bickering couple, with one side writing "I wrote an album about you" and the other side replying "I don’t care." And other album tracks have titles including "Still Madly Crazy", "Too Little Too Late", and "Love Can Grow Back".You cannot, it is fair to say, accuse Robin Thicke of being cryptic. But this is not an album about Paula. This is an album about Robin Thicke’s big dick, which now swings in his hands like a metronome in a piano shop at closing time.
I remember once going to see a friend who’d been quite excited about what her boyfriend was planning to do for her birthday. He’d had the word BIRTHDAY written inside his arm in marker pen all week, so she was optimistic that he might present her with something that didn’t come from Londis or a tomb or YouPorn. But he still didn’t manage it. He woke up on the day, realised he hadn’t bought anything, and then there was drama. His drama. “I wouldn’t actually have minded him forgetting again if he’d just got over it and tried to make the day really lovely,” she said, “but he was so bothered about his failure that he kept bashing around the flat going: ‘Oh GOD why am I SUCH a FUCK-up’ for hours and hours, until I finally managed to convince him it didn’t matter and that I didn’t care. So my birthday still wasn’t really about me at all.” In the same way, this album is not really about Paula, and this song about getting her back is not about getting her back in any way that makes her happy. Not least because what makes her happy is, presumably, being apart. The funny thing about it is that it’s quite a standard pop narrative to go from sexy to contrite, from flesh-baring to sad. It’s like when Christina Aguilera did the "Dirrty" video, with the chains and the oil and the leather, and then her next song was "Beautiful" and she was all sweet and virginal again.
Interestingly, circumstance has forced the feminist Antichrist Thicke down exactly established this female pop narrative. He’s been forced to apologise for his pop sexiness. He’s been nudged into the virgin-whore dichotomy by his own wife, which is quite satisfying. Those of us who moaned about him at the start should be happy now?
Well, maybe. Except, really, I don’t believe any of that. I believe one of the following two theories: The first is that his wife is in on all of this, and playing her part in a big old soap opera. Let’s face it: the celebrities who get the most attention these days are the ones living out their break-ups and mental meltdowns on social media. Thicke is well aware of that, and so has invited us all into his orchestrated and finely produced collapse – it’s all part of the Society of the Spectacle.But the other theory – and this is what I truly believe – is that his wife is genuinely sick of him, and he really does want her back, because there’s a very good reason they’ve been together since their teens. There’s a heart-warming reason that the silly man married his childhood sweetheart, and why he can’t marry anyone else ever again. A noble, special, private thing that unites two human beings, above all else. And that thing is this: he doesn’t actually have a big dick at all. He has a mousey little todger. A weeny little pipsqueak of a weener. And he has to be with her, because she’s the only one who knows.
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