Pharrell Williams is pretty cool. He has a swag hat collection, a super successful line of Adidas sneakers, and apparently never ages. But we shouldn’t be giving him too much credit – he’s got issues too. AAISHA DADI PATEL rounds up five reasons why you should boycott Pharrell.
1. He’s kind of sexist
Pharrell has defended Blurred Lines, the controversial 2013 hit song he did with Robin Thicke, which was widely criticised for promoting rape culture and the objectification of women. Pharrell said that accusations of misogyny and sexism are ridiculous because he “loves women”. Asked to comment on the line ‘I know you want it’ from the song, Pharrell said: “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?”
Point. Missed. Add kind of tone-deaf to the above.
2. He victim-blamed Michael Brown
The killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked outrage and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter.
But according to Pharrell, Michael Brown should shoulder some of the blame for his own death.
“The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to ‘get the f–k on the sidewalk.’ If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a storeowner, you’re asking for trouble,” Pharrell said.
3. He’s a plagiarist
Blurred lines – again. Earlier this year, Pharrell and Robin Thicke were found guilty of infringing the 1977 Marvin Gaye song “Got to Give It Up”, and ordered to pay nearly $7.4 million to Gaye’s family.
Pharrell didn’t say anything after the verdict was passed, but released a statement through his spokesperson saying that he would contest the decision.
“Pharrell created Blurred Lines from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter,” it read.
4. He’s unapologetic about performing in Israel
Pharrell, it seems, is quite happy to ignore calls for a musical boycott of Israel. It was widely advertised that he would be performing in Israel in September before his trip to South Africa. So much for international solidarity.
5. He’s the poster-child for the “New Black”
Last year Pharrell, in not so many words, proclaimed he’d transcended race through success, coining the term “New Black“ along the way.
“The New Black doesn’t blame other races for our issues,” Pharrell told Oprah. “The New Black dreams and realises that it’s not pigmentation: it’s a mentality and it’s either going to work for you or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re going to be on.”
Yep, you heard it here folks. Think happy thoughts and you too can dismantle structural inequality. Or not.
In the end though, boycotting Pharrell or not may come down to one simple question: can you stand to listen to that damned song one more time?