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Date Rape Anthem: Britney Spears’ “Blur”

Relevant Lyrics:

Who are you? What’d we do, last night? Hey, yeah, yeah Who are you? What’d we do, last night? Hey, yeah, yeah

Can’t remember what I did last night Maybe I shouldn’t have given in But I just couldn’t fight Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve Everything, everything is still a blur

Why It’s So Rapey: I feel bad bringing Britney into this. I really do. After all, Spears didn’t even write this track: this date rape joint is the product of three songwriters—-Marcella Araiac, Stacy Barth, and Nathanial Hills—-who are responsible for putting the words in the victim’s mouth.

Reviews have been mixed:

” Sometimes it’s forgettable, sometimes it’s downright weird—-as on “Blur,” which lays out a date-rape scenario and then leaves it hanging there. By refusing to be either regretful or angry, it’s more disturbing than any Tori Amos song.” —- Jack Feerick, Popdose

“Best of all is Blur, a dark, Danja-produced track. Some have suggested it’s about date rape, and while that’s debatable, it’s still a deeply unsettling song . . . It’s a sobering counterpoint to the fluff that makes up much of the album, and tellingly, it’s where Britney sounds most at home.” –— Nick Bond, Perth City Search (okay, a positive take was hard to find).

So Feerick doesn’t really believe the rape scenario. At the very least, he argues that the song makes Britney out to be a bad victim of sexual assault—-isn’t it irresponsible for her to feel nothing about this “blur”? Bond’s glowing recommendation, on the other hand, suggests that Brit-Brit is great at playing the victim—-she even sounds “at home” in the territory.

The song sucks, but it does raise an interesting point about narratives of date rape in the media. How creepy is it that Spears, who seems to have little artistic control over her own career and did not chip in at all on this song, is asked to lend her AutoTune talents to a date rape themed track with a hook that repeats, out of laziness or sheer insensitivity, “yeah, yeah . . . yeah, yeah”?

For that matter, how many song, film, and television representations of date rape are actually written and performed by victims of the crime (or people who take any effort to understand it)? How many are just guessing, leaving it to the victim performer to “play the victim” well enough to turn the song a “sobering counterpart” instead of just “downright weird”?