Pharrell Williams is “embarrassed” by his Robin Thicke collaboration Blurred Lines as he now recognises that the lyrics are disrespectful towards women.
The 46-year-old music producer co-wrote the 2013 song with Thicke and rapper T.I., and he now accepts it promotes derogatory and sexist views.
As a result, he’s now more sensitive about promoting harmful messages in his songs.
“I was also born in a different era, where the rules of the matrix at that time allowed a lot of things that would never fly today,” he told GQ for November’s New Masculinity issue. “Advertisements that objectify women. Song content. Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today. 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 the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment changed his views on the subject, Williams explained his viewpoints had already shifted.
“I think Blurred Lines opened me up,” he explained. “I didn’t get it at first. 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?'”
But the Happy hitmaker had to confront the harmful messages the song promoted.
“I realised 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 behaviour or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, ‘Got it. I get it. Cool’,” he added.
“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 realised that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realised that. Didn’t realise that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”