Principled? Five reasons to boycott Pharrell

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?

Featured image via Instagram , additional image via Reddit
  1. James Marsh says

    What a completely pathetic article. Aaisha, when writing as a journalist, remember the golden rule of objectivity. Your views on the Israeli Palestine conflict are clear in just this one piece. Please don’t use a supposedly unbiased platform such as The Daily Vox to air your own personal views.

    1. Azad Essa says

      Greetings James. The golden rule of journalism is not objectivity. It is accuracy. Kindly point out what is inaccurate in this piece, and we will gladly correct it. Thanks.

      1. Ana says

        These guys are quite clear on where they stand on Palestine. Good for them. James, are you with the occupiers?

      2. James Marsh says

        Thanks for the response Azad. Good to identify another Vox writer’s views that are clearly one sided. Let me guess, at brainstorming sessions no one in the room stands up in support of Israel? That is exactly what is wrong with this piece. You give all the things that Pharrell has done wrong but neglect the things he has done right.

        Sure this piece is accurate, but why not write a piece then on how Donald Trump is extremely generous and a genius of business and leave out instances of his racial bigotry. Unless writing an editorial, opinions should be kept to one self…

        I agree Ana, they are quite clear and as a media outlet, it is quite concerning. Am I with the occupiers? No. I am with decent, ethical and correct journalistic practices.

        1. Azad Essa says

          Thanks James.

          No, we do not stand up for a racist, murderous regime. That is not our job. As ethical journalists, we speak truth to power.

          We not concerned about your fantasies of what journalism is meant to be.

          You want a positive article about powerful Donald Trump who describes illegal immigrants in US as rapists/murderers? You go ahead and write it. Ask yourself, your point is to correctly represent a powerful man spreading lies and bigotry?

          1. James Marsh says

            Thanks again for the reply… You have definitely proven my point which was initially a hunch and is now clear to see. You may as well put a BDS badge on your home page as your agenda is clear. Feel free to reply again if you wish, I am merely providing the nails, you are hammering them in yourself, quite well actually. Keep it up, Daily Vox, “The voice of the biased journalist would probably be a more apt slogan”

          2. Travis says

            Wow. I’ve just lost all the respect I had for this site. It’s fine for a journalist to have opinions, nothing wrong with that. But to openly throw your journalistic principles into the wind like this is quite something to see. Do what you want, say what you want, but please, don’t call yourselves journalists.

      3. beet says

        But how could a subjective opinion be either accurate or inaccurate? To be accurate it must be objective in the first place.

  2. Neerin says

    There is clearly a “hidden Agenda” by the writer of this article.

    Firstly,though I May stand with You on Palestine…..I think this is a very Childish approach to “attack” someone because they don’t support Palestine.

    Let’s throw some Words around here since you dodged objectivity…..

    Integrity……Are you being really honest here??….hidden agenda…Strike 1!

    Transparency…This article is so far from transparent….it hides one small thing that makes you “agitated” at night….Strike 2!

    Professional Behaviour- Looking for other weaknesses in a person to bring them down is not Cool,I’m sure if you took the time to look for positve things that Pharrell done …you would find it..Strike 3!

    1. Fathima says

      Since you have so much of time to find “strikes” please, by all means educate us with examples of his “positive things”

  3. Azad Essa says

    I don’t see what you are trying to say James. We are quite transparent, so since you are obviously new to this internet thing, let me help you.

    Here we take a clear stance on Palestine:

    Here we support BDS as an idea:

    Here we criticize BDS-SA’s campaign against Woolies:

    Here an activist makes fun of us (especially me) for my criticism of BDS:

    Have fun.

    1. mik says

      @Azad don’t you think that having a stance on the Palestine-Israel conflict will be alienating you from people who are on the fence in what they believe is right and wrong and want to do research on the topic ?,clearly they cannot trust this sites views as you guys have already stated your support to one party maybe you should change the motto to Amplify.Palestine.only Palestine

      1. Azad Essa says

        Hello “Mik”,

        If you are on the side of justice and equality, to hell with what petty, ignorant readers think.


  4. John says

    Wow….this article is really bad 🙁 Its more one sided than a one armed man masturbating.

    1. Ana says

      I think you would find John, that masturbation is always a one-sided experience.

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