Oxford University’s student newspaper, Cherwell, has reported scenes of outrage and distress last Friday at Balliol College. The debacle apparently unfurled during the college’s annual pop night, the Balliol Bop. Students joined together to express their anger; even the Oxford Junior Common Room president was moved to denounce the perpetrator and uphold the values of Balliol. What was the heinous crime of this unnamed scoundrel, who was led away by porters and is now, according to reports, ‘being punished’? He played Robin Thicke’s contraband pop song, ‘Blurred Lines’.
The song was banned by the Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU) last October, as it has been at scores of universities across the country. Balliol students, once safely wrapped up in the cocoon of SU-sanctioned music, found themselves utterly unprepared for the barrage of salacious ideas purveyed by this popular tune. Lucy Delaney, women’s campaigns officer for OUSU, is quoted as claiming the song ‘almost definitely caused some people to be triggered, and made everyone extremely angry’.
The feminist-led campaign against ‘Blurred Lines’ marked a low point for academic life last year. But Balliol, if these reports are to be believed, has brought the esteem of students everywhere down another peg. Apparently, even Oxford students aren’t made of tough enough stuff to endure the dangerous and unsanctioned words of Robin Thicke on a night of carefree merriment.
Thankfully, their agony was cut short by a second-year student who heroically unplugged the cables before the song was halfway through. This was followed by the palliative measure of an ‘afterbop’ party, at which the song ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin was played to redress the morals of the play list.
This story could well be a spoof. But at a time in which campus censorship has reached ludicrous levels, it rings all too true.