What Robin Thicke learned from his father about women

Thicke's interview in the US version of Elle magazine reveals choice tidbits such as his father's advice: “I know she’s pretty, but you stared at her and followed her across the room. What if there’s a prettier girl sitting two tables away?"

This article originally appeared on the New Republic website

I’ll admit it: I’ve been resisting disliking Robin Thicke. I know a lot of people consider the “I know you want it” chorus of his big hit, “Blurred Lines,” nothing short of a call to rape—and I have to say, the phrase “tried to domesticate you” makes me pretty queasy—but I could never understand what people heard that they thought was so much worse than—nay, even as bad as—the pop music norm. The un-self-serious, frankly goofy music video helped redeem the song for me. Plus, I think it’s fun to dance to—so sue me.

But I’m done. I officially realize that Robin Thicke is just as gross a specimen of American maleness as you’ve all been telling me he is for months. The deciding factor is the interview with him that US Elle published Thursday, and which you should read if you think you ate some bad shellfish and need to throw up.

Here are his five most nauseating answers: 

1. What did [your father, Growing Pains star Alan Thicke] tell you not to do [with women]?

We were on vacation and some pretty girl walked by. I started ogling her like a 12-year-old boy, and he said, “I know she’s pretty, but you stared at her and followed her across the room. What if there’s a prettier girl sitting two tables away? Now she’s not going to feel special. She’ll say, ‘You look at all the girls like that.’ You’ve gotta play it cool so you don’t look like you're desperate.”

2. You told Howard Stern that you lost your virginity at 13. Is there anything you’d do differently?

Make it last longer than 30 seconds.

3. Was she someone you cared about?

Yeah, I can’t comment on who it was. But I got it out of the way, let’s just say.

4. The unrated music video for “Blurred Lines” features balloon letters that spell out Robin Thicke Has a Big Dick. You also give your manhood a shout-out in “Give It 2 U.” I’m sorry, but how big is this thing?

In “Give It 2 U,” it’s more a comment of swagger. Like, I’m big-dick swingin’. … Listen, compared to my son, I’m packing. If I’m next to LeBron James? It’s probably not quite as impressive.

5. Do you listen to your own music in the bedroom?

Yes. In fact, [my wife, Paula Patton] likes to do it more than ever now. Sometimes she’ll even play groupie for me.

This article originally appeared on the New Republic website

Good with the ladies, or a total skeez? You decide. Image: Getty
Show Hide image

Why does food taste better when we Instagram it?

Delay leads to increased pleasure when you set up a perfect shot of your dinner.

Been on holiday? Take any snaps? Of course you did – but if you’re anything like me, your friends and family didn’t make it into many of them. Frankly, I can only hope that Mr Whippy and I will still be mates in sixty years, because I’m going to have an awful lot of pictures of him to look back on.

Once a decidedly niche pursuit, photographing food is now almost as popular as eating it, and if you thought that the habit was annoying at home, it is even worse when it intrudes on the sacred peace of a holiday. Buy an ice cream and you’ll find yourself alone with a cone as your companion rushes across a four-lane highway to capture his or hers against the azure sea. Reach for a chip before the bowl has been immortalised on social media and get your hand smacked for your trouble.

It’s a trend that sucks the joy out of every meal – unless, that is, you’re the one behind the camera. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that taking pictures of food enhances our pleasure in it. Diners at the food court of a farmers’ market in Philadelphia were asked either to photograph their meal or to eat “as you normally would”, then were questioned about how they found it. Those in the photography group reported that not only did they enjoy their meal more, but they were “significantly more immersed in the experience” of eating it.

This backs up evidence from previous studies, including one from this year in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, which found that participants who had been asked to photograph a red velvet cake – that bleeding behemoth of American overindulgence – later rated it as significantly tastier than those who had not.

Interestingly, taking a picture of a fruit salad had no effect on its perceived charms, but “when descriptive social norms regarding healthy eating [were] made salient”, photographing these healthier foods did lead to greater enjoyment. In other words, if you see lots of glossy, beautifully lit pictures of chia seed pudding on social media, you are more likely to believe that it’s edible, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
This may seem puzzling. After all, surely anything tastes better fresh from the kitchen rather than a protracted glamour shoot – runny yolks carefully split to capture that golden ooze, strips of bacon arranged just so atop plump hemispheres of avocado, pillowy burger buns posed to give a glimpse of meat beneath. It is hardly surprising that 95 million posts on Instagram, the photo-sharing site, proudly bear the hashtag #foodporn.

However, it is this delay that is apparently responsible for the increase in pleasure: the act of rearranging that parsley garnish, or moving the plate closer to the light, increases our anticipation of what we are about to eat, forcing us to consider how delicious it looks even as we forbid ourselves to take a bite until the perfect shot is in the bag. You could no doubt achieve the same heightened sense of satisfaction by saying grace before tucking in, but you would lose the gratification that comes from imagining other people ogling your grilled Ibizan sardines as they tuck in to an egg mayonnaise at their desk.

Bear in mind, though, that the food that is most successful on Instagram often has a freakish quality – lurid, rainbow-coloured bagel-croissant hybrids that look like something out of Frankenstein’s bakery are particularly popular at the moment – which may lead to some unwise menu choices in pursuit of online acclaim.

On the plus side, if a diet of giant burgers and salted-caramel lattes leaves you feeling queasy, take heart: if there is one thing that social media likes more than #avotoast, it is embarrassing oversharing. After a week of sickening ice-cream shots, a sickbed selfie is guaranteed to cheer up the rest of us. 

Felicity Cloake is the New Statesman’s food columnist. Her latest book is The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser