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Emily Ratajkowski’s Accusations Against Robin Thicke Have Reignited A Conversation About “Blurred Lines” And Why It Has Always Been Problematic

“The lyrics are gross, the music was plagiarised, and now the ‘risqué’ video fostered an environment where sexual assault could happen.”

Posted on October 4, 2021, at 12:29 p.m. ET

Emily Ratajkowski recently opened up in her new book, My Body, about allegedly being groped by Robin Thicke on the set of the “Blurred Lines” music video.

Daniele Venturelli / Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images for Luisaviaroma

Emily — who is known for her work as a model, author, and actor — rose to fame after she starred in the hugely popular music video for the controversial 2013 hit.

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Writing about her experience on the set of the shoot, Emily said that she had initially felt comfortable with filming both the censored and uncensored versions of the video. However, things became uncomfortable when Thicke “returned to the set a little drunk to shoot just with me.”

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images for Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Presented by Amazon Prime

“Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind. I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke,” Emily wrote.

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“He smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward, his eyes concealed behind his sunglasses,” she went on. “My head turned to the darkness beyond the set. [Director Diane Martel’s] voice cracked as she yelled out to me, ‘Are you okay?’”

Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Tory Burch

“I pushed my chin forward and shrugged, avoiding eye contact, feeling the heat of humiliation pump through my body,” she continued. “I didn’t react — not really, not like I should have.”

Sean Zanni / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Diane Martel has supported Emily’s claims, telling the Sunday Times this weekend that she remembers the alleged encounter.

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“I remember the moment that he grabbed her breasts. One in each hand. He was standing behind her as they were both in profile. I screamed in my very aggressive Brooklyn voice, ‘What the fuck are you doing? That’s it! The shoot is over!’” Martel recalled.

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The director also claimed that Thicke “sheepishly apologized” for his behavior, and she went on to praise Emily’s professionalism as she chose to continue with the shoot.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

So, in case you need reminding, in 2013 “Blurred Lines” spent 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and held the top spot for 12 weeks — making it the longest-running single of that year in the US.

Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Since its release eight years ago, the song’s commercial success has been overshadowed by large amounts of criticism aimed at both the lyrics and its accompanying music videos.

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The song’s uncensored video starred two other models alongside Emily, all three of whom danced in nothing but nude-colored thongs beside Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I., who were all fully clothed.

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Back in 2013, Martel explained that the video — which was shot by an all-female team — intended to subvert power dynamics and empower women by placing the men in inferior positions.

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“I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men,” she said. “It also forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position.”

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However, the empowering intentions ultimately fell flat, and the video was largely met with backlash from viewers who felt that it “seemed to objectify and degrade women.”

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What’s more, the song’s lyrics — which involve Thicke repeatedly singing “I know you want it” — have been criticized for “perpetuating rape culture” and “disregarding consent.”

As a result of the backlash, Pharrell — one of the song’s writers — has since publicly distanced himself from the project after acknowledging that the lyrics feed into a “chauvinist culture.”

Axelle / FilmMagic

And now, Emily’s recent accusations from the shoot have sparked a wave of renewed discussion about why the video and its lyrics are problematic.

Sean Zanni / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“One of the most disgusting, sexist, misogynist songs and videos ever,” one Twitter user wrote. “The whole video was a metaphorical assault on women. Solidarity with @emrata.”

One of the most disgusting, sexist, misogynist songs and videos ever. I’m not surprised Robin Thicke has been accused of sexual assault. The whole video was a metaphorical assault on women. Solidarity with @emrata https://t.co/bONLET3ZDo

Twitter: @JeanHatchet

“blurred lines is literally about ignoring consent,” someone else said in reference to the lyrics.

ew, robin’s thicke blurred lines is literally about ignoring consent

Twitter: @tyshawnworld

“I believe Emily Ratajkowski,” another added. “‘Blurred Lines’ is a song and music video that is creepy and perpetuates rape culture.”

I believe Emily Ratajkowski. “Blurred Lines” is a song and music video that is creepy and perpetuates rape culture. https://t.co/69zR2diGZv

Twitter: @MJFINESSELOVER

“The mv always gave me creepy vibes and the girls looked uncomfortable, it was so derogatory,” someone else wrote.

The mv always gave me creepy vibes and the girls looked uncomfortable, it was so derogatory https://t.co/8h71rLvRpy

Twitter: @doudousgagas

And in light of Emily’s claims, some Twitter users were quick to recall additional controversies that surround the song.

Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

“The lyrics are gross, the music was plagiarised, and now the ‘risque’ video fostered an environment where sexual assault could happen,” someone claimed.

This song must be the biggest A&R disaster of the last 10 years. The lyrics are gross, the music was plagiarised, and now the "risque" video fostered an environment where sexual assault could happen. Pharrell must be pleased he had Happy up his sleeve to make us forget. https://t.co/a9I5bSxeGe

Twitter: @leighsus

“The song blurred lines got accused of soooooo much. From copyrighting, sexual harassment, degrading women in the video. So much chaos,” noted another.

The song blurred lines got accused of soooooo much. From copyrighting, sexual harassment, degrading women in the video. So much chaos

Twitter: @AntoinetteJr

Along with the wider criticism, the song’s writers were met with even more controversy in 2015 when Marvin Gaye’s estate successfully sued for copyright infringement.

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“Blurred Lines” was found by a jury to share similarities to Gaye’s 1977 song “Got To Give It Up,” and in 2018, a judge ruled that Thicke and Williams ultimately would pay out almost $5 million to the musician’s family.

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And while Pharrell has publicly denounced the song, Thicke continues to defend the controversial hit.

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“Well, really, I never saw it that way when I sang it or performed it,” he said. “You just kind of take it with a grain of salt.”

Rich Fury / Getty Images

“I love to perform, so I just go for that part of it,” the singer went on. “We’re just jamming, everybody is meant to get up and dance. That’s all the song is meant to do.”

Michael Tullberg / FilmMagic,

BuzzFeed News has reached out to a representative for Robin Thicke for comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.