warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Get Her Back: Romanticizing Stalkers Is OK If It’s Not IRL

Judy Lee |
June 25, 2014 | 4:25 p.m. PDT


We’ve heard it before: Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is misogynistic and objectifying and it’s been beaten to the ground for what it is. Now, he’s back with “Get Her Back”—a song from his latest album“Paula,” named after his ex-wife, Paula Patton.

If you have yet to see it, here it is:

There’s no doubt of a few things about this music video:

  • Robin Thicke exploited a private conversation between himself and his ex-wife.
  • Robin Thicke’s language is unhealthy and his words have been compared to those of a stalker (i.e.“I wrote an album about you,” “Can I come see you?” and “This is just the beginning”).
  • This is a music video and not necessarily an accurate reflection of real life occurrences in Thicke's and Patton’s lives.
  • Robin Thicke is an artist and is entitled to free speech and expression.
  • However, Robin Thicke chooses to contribute to media-related misogyny when producing misogynistic material (i.e. his theme of refusing “no” for an answer in both “Blurred Lines” and “Get Her Back”).
  • Media influences society.

The refusal to see this music video as "real" is an implicit denial of any harm it may cause. (TwitPic/IndyArt)
The refusal to see this music video as "real" is an implicit denial of any harm it may cause. (TwitPic/IndyArt)

With this said, there are a multitude of comments sounding off on the video—some decrying the red flags in Thicke’s texts, some praising Thicke’s “determination,” some defending his freedom of expression and some reminding everyone that this is simply a music video and not real life.

Upon considering the last assertion, I question what “real life” exactly entails. What concerns me about the refusal to see this music video as something "real" is that it’s an implicit denial of any harm that may arise from the video.

If there were a movie scene about a man obsessively texting his ex-wife for forgiveness and ending the conversation with “This is just the beginning,” it would first and foremost be considered “not real life” because it is a movie. But its effects are what make it relevant to real life. Kind of like how “The Matrix” is just a movie, but has reportedly incited very real murders.

SEE ALSO: Banning 'Blurred Lines' Won't Kill Rape Culture

Asserting that this music video has no ties to anything other than itself is ignoring that humans and society exist and can be influenced by what they perceive. There is always context to everything and if this concept of “the internet is not real life” were applied to, let’s say, evidence found in a picture tweeted of a murder scene or an email containing a murder threat—it would absolutely qualify as a “real life” danger.

Here’s the thing: if something incites feelings of hurt, validation, inspiration, anything—it becomes actualized and real. Although our first instinct is often to choose to examine things from an individualistic lens (like defending Robin Thicke's video because it’s just one video) rather than its effect on a majority, it's important to acknowledge that there are many things we may not immediately consider "real life" that still have a profound impact on how our society is shaped.

Occurring outside of the media and therefore “IRL” shouldn't be the only criteria on which we judge cultural impact—especially in this day and age.

“Get Her Back” is not only creepy; it’s very real to many of those who have been stalked or  who weren’t respected enough to have their “no” taken seriously.

It’s also very real to the next person who chooses to emulate his attempt to manipulate someone into taking him back by publicly declaring his refusal to take “no” for an answer.

Contact Contributor Judy Lee here. Follow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.