Pharrell is America's darling, but even as his ageless face melts our hearts there is still the pesky problem of "Blurred Lines," the controversial mega-smash he co-wrote with Robin Thicke that has been called, in a word, "rapey." Yesterday he was asked about the song's lyrics on the UK's Channel 4 News, and his defense wasn't exactly convincing.
Pitchfork has excerpted some of his responses to interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy, which illustrate that Pharrell is perhaps better off letting his works of musical genius speak for themselves.
To wit, here he is comparing himself to a car salesman.
"Is it sexually suggestive when a car salesman says to a person who's trying to buy a car, 'I know you want it?'"
This metaphor doesn't exactly disassociate "Blurred Lines" from accusations that it is sleazy and leering, pushy and perhaps even worse.
Guru-Murthy then pointed out that sex and vehicles exist in entirely different contexts (despite the work of many a great R&B singer, we should add). Pharrell responded:
"Okay cool. But does that make it off-limits for me to use in a song, especially when the overarching context is that there are good women who also have bad thoughts? If a good woman can have sexual thoughts, is it wrong for a man to have a correct guess that a woman might want something?"
There is a lot to unpack here about Pharrell dividing women and thoughts into "good" and "bad" and then intimating that certain women should only have certain thoughts. For the sake of brevity, let's note that Pharrell should probably acknowledge that many women might be put off by the notion that a man has to draw their sexuality out of them by purring in their ears.
He returned to this good woman/bad thoughts dichotomy again when Guru-Murthy asked him about T.I. rapping about how big his dick is (which is fine, I think we all can agree?).
I love women. I love them inside and out. That song was meant for a woman to hear and say, 'You know, I'm a good woman. And sometimes I do have bad thoughts.'"
It could be argued that part of Pharrell's public persona is that of a man who can unlock the libido of the type of woman who might see him perform on Ellen, a sort of walking 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe he sees himself this way, which is why his view of women—at least as expressed in this interview—is weirdly puritanical.
After saying that he's not a feminist—let's just skip this part—he did say something very smart and agreeable about Hillary Clinton's potential presidency.
"I'd love to see a woman run the country. Historically this world has been run by a man, and what would a world be like if 75 percent of our world leaders and prime ministers were female? What would that world be like? We do not know because we haven't given it a shot. We're too busy telling them what they can or can't do with their bodies."
Agreed. Legitimately good point, Pharrell. Now, let's just extend that part about "telling them what they can or can't do with their bodies" to "telling them what they're thinking in their minds."