Pharrell Williams in an interview with GQ for its so-called “New Masculinity” issue published this week shared that he feels “embarrassed” if not ashamed of the 2013 hit song, “Blurred Lines,” which he wrote, sang, and produced.
“Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today,” said Williams. “I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place.”
When asked if it was the #MeToo Movement that inspired him to feel this way, Williams replied that it began back when “Blurred Lines” was released and he received both worldwide praise and criticism for the song’s content.
The song, which also featured Robin Thicke and T.I., was criticized as being misogynist and supportive of rape culture.
“I think ‘Blurred Lines’ opened me up. I didn't get it at first,” Williams explained. “Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing. So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And I know you want it—women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it's like, What's rapey about that?”
He continued, “And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn't matter that that's not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, Got it. I get it. Cool. My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn't the majority, it didn't matter. I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn't realized that. Didn't realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”
Williams added that he hasn’t “been the same since any of that music,” including the song, “Happy,” which “made people feel happy” but he “didn’t write for” himself.
“I was never the same. So I don't beat on my chest,” said Williams.
As to the concept of “new masculinity,” Williams said that he doesn’t know if that conversation is “new” but that there exists a "higher masculinity" that is "the essence of you that understands and respects that which isn't masculine."
He blamed "the dominant force" of "the older straight white male" for the conversation around masculinity and how it's also "very racial," going a step further to say it was created as "a fearful thing" and led to "side effects."
"And it's a fearful thing. You know, America was 'created by our Founding Fathers'—not our Founding Mothers or our Founding Mother and Father. Right? So this conversation leads to side effects, like using religion as a weapon to justify [an attack on] women's reproductive rights. Insane, insane things. And I'm like, What are you afraid of? We're living in the middle of the kicking and screaming."
He went on to say that the contents of the Declaration of Independence made his jaw drop and that "it's really wild, bro":
"I don't wanna go too controversial, but man, I just read the Declaration of Independence the other day and my jaw dropped. Referring to the Native Americans as merciless savages—that's in the Declaration of Independence, bro. It's in there. Referring to men, they use the term 'mankind.' Well, what about the women? And they talk about the transgressions of the king at the time, and they made reference to how he tried to stop their foreign trade. It kind of felt like now. I don't know the last time you read it, but it's really wild, bro."