Twitter tells Robin Thicke: Leave Paula alone!


Robin Thicke leaves the stage after performing “Forever Love” during the 2014 BET Awards. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Because Robin Thicke appears to have absolutely no chill whatsoever when it comes to the dogged pursuit of actress Paula Patton, his wife who has chosen to separate herself from the R&B singer, parts of the Internet have taken up the mantle of Defenders of Paula.

The two, who have one son together, separated following years of rumors of infidelity and compromising photos of Thicke that painted the picture of a boozing, partying Lothario, albeit one with a very good voice.

Now Thicke is on a campaign to win back Patton’s affections vis-à-vis public begging in the service of capitalism: He’s releasing a new album today called “Paula.” Even if #GetHerBack doesn’t resurrect his marriage, Thicke will still make a profit from record sales and touring, so total win-win, right? Thicke’s first single, entitled “Get Her Back,” proclaims:

I never should have raised my voice or made you feel so small
I never should have asked you to do anything at all
I should have kissed you longer
I should have held you stronger
And I’ll wait for forever for you to love me again

On Sunday, Thicke brought his “I Ain’t Nothin Without Paula” tour to the BET Awards, where he debuted yet another single, “Forever Love,” under giant letters spelling out Patton’s name. This afternoon, Thicke is supposed to answer questions with the help of VH1 as he promotes “Paula.” VH1 asked Twitter users to submit questions using the hashtag #AskThicke, which drew quite a few questions from those who have come to Patton’s defense and formed a protective Chris-Crocker-like cocoon around her, minus the unhinged YouTubing. The general message is the same, though: Leave Paula alone!

Maybe this would work if Thicke were pursuing Montana Moore, Patton’s lovelorn character from her movie “Baggage Claim,” but he’s not. He’s directing all this attention at a real flesh and blood woman who has other concerns besides how to turn down Thicke’s advances without looking like a jerk. This isn’t romantic. It could be called stalking by proxy via the media: Maybe he’s not in the bushes of her house, peering through her windows, but Thicke has ensured that every time she looks at Google News or turns on the radio, Patton’s going to encounter another of his pitiful entreaties.

Recently, the Cut was moved to publish a post about Thicke and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine about how to be a good ex because they both appear to be terrible at it. At the Celebrity Cafe, Jorie Goins called Thicke’s antics “emotional abuse.” Kat Stoeffel wrote:

Like the very public marriage proposal, the Very Public Get-Her-Back campaign appears to be the height of romance — he’s laying it all on the line for her! — but is in fact pure manipulation. It goads Patton into a conversation in which she must either acquiesce to his demand or disappoint the public, and makes her an involuntary part of his career for the foreseeable future. What would be an irritating gesture in a civilian relationship should practically be illegal among celebrities.

What’s more, this isn’t a one time thing; it’s an established part of Thicke’s public persona. Thicke’s most famous love song, “Lost Without You,” was actually a tribute to his own narcissism. Thicke seems to croon to his woman: “I’m lost without you/can’t help myself/How does it feel/to know that I love you baby.” In actuality, Thicke is listing off all the things he wants Patton to tell him; he admitted as much on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” back when the fact that he and Patton had been together since age 16 raised absolutely no red flags whatsoever. We are suckers for love, or at least easily digestible, love-like facsimiles, are we not?

Patton’s silence is not her playing hard to get, as far as we know. This isn’t her way of saying, “Come harder, be bigger, make the grandest gesture possible.” The name in lights may say “Paula,” but this is “The Robin Thicke Show.”

There’s always another possibility: Patton is in on the whole thing, they’ve already made up, and now she’s playing along so that Thicke can milk the whole situation. They can reunite, live happily ever after and laugh at all of us all the way to the bank. But that would make them the most smug, despised couple on Earth, and it’s just difficult to see Patton going for that.

Until she indicates otherwise, Operation #FreePaula reigns supreme.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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