Are Robin Thicke and Paula Patton Faking Their Separation?

There's a chance that Paula legitimately got fed up with Robin Thicke, but there's a much better chance that this is all just a marketing ploy.

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Jun 25 2014, 2:06pm

Nothing is real anymore. Remember when Justin Bieber tweeted that someone stole something from his laptop, and everyone thought it was pictures of him shirtless (it was a rarity back then) or dick pics, but then it turned out to be the “Beauty and the Beat” music video? Or when Miley Cyrus had a “meltdown” that allowed her to form a publicity cocoon around her body until she came out a winged and twerking threat to human society? 50 Cent has admitted to manufacturing beef just to sell records, and Kanye West’s entire public persona the last year and a half has been that of a walking, talking, shift key — despite the fact that he seems pretty happy when he doesn’t think anyone is watching. It’s 2014, and if you want to sell records, you need to start living a double life. As such, it’s very likely that Robin Thicke and Paula Patton are milking their very public marital distress into a very calculated marketing ploy to sell Thicke’s newest record—which is titled Paula. There’s a slim chance that Paula legitimately got sick of the Son of Alan Thicke’s philandering ways and left before she caught the Cyrus Virus, but there’s a much, much greater chance that it’s one more in a long line of marketing ploys used by Robin Thicke to catapult him beyond “that white guy who collaborates with rappers” and into the realm of full-fledged R&B superstardom.

The campaign, as it were, started on February 24th, 2014, when the couple issued a statement to People that informed the public that they would be separating after knowing each other since they were all but 14-years-old. Yes, they only got married in 2005, but they made sure to note the fact that they had known each other since middle school in order to make people go “awwww” all the harder. Then, four days later, at his first concert since the announcement was made, Robin made sure that everyone in Fairfax, Virginia who had yet to pick up a copy of People knew all about his sordid personal affairs, dedicating “Lost Without You” to getting his girl back. "For y'all that don't know, me and my wife separated but I'm trying to get my girl back." Then, at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, where Robin accepted the award for “Top R&B Song” for Blurred Lines by thanking Paula while wearing the facial expression of a puppy lost in a thunderstorm throughout the speech. "Most importantly I'd like to thank my wife for her love and support and for putting up with me for all these years.” Later in the show, he would perform his new single “Get Her Back," for the first time, introducing it to the crowd by pleading, “Alright y'all, help me get her back!"

TL;DR—Robin and Paula separated after a childhood romance, and he wants to get her back. In case you ever forget this fact, sites like Huffington Post and TMZ post some sort of clickhole story about which spouse was/wasn’t wearing their wedding ring throughout the week like clockwork, feeding this already ridiculous narrative with rumour-steroids and keeping it in the public eye — despite the fact that (probably) nothing is happening. Nobody knows why they separated after such a long period of time together, and no outright accusations or representations of guilt have been made by either party, leaving everyone to their own imaginations, with some going so far as to go full Dan Brown on Paula’s Instagram pictures. Then, in an attempt to either mend the bridges or fan the flames, Thicke announced that his new album would be titled Paula, causing an entire gender to audibly exclaim, “Really man? Like, seriously?” Assuming this isn’t a marketing ploy (which it is), there’s no way that Paula Patton, a woman who has always kept her private life very private and who reportedly asked for a separation from her husband, would be remotely OK with becoming the public object of thirst for the biggest Non-Justin-Bieber Canadian R&B singer of all time. It’s creepy, and the only reason why Paula hasn’t breathlessly called the police while hiding under a table in her kitchen, requesting that they come remove the singing man from her house, is because it’s (again, probably, we can’t say “definitely” because we don’t want to get sued for libel) not real.

But why is Thicke doing this? Why go through all the effort of publicly embarrassing yourself just to sell a few extra records? The answer may lie in Robin’s quest for legitimacy. Thicke is playing the long con with this album push, masquerading a serious R&B project under the very transparent veil of public humiliation. Thicke is taking Usher’s formula for Confessions, grinding it up into a very fine powder, mainlining it as a way to thin out the pure Cheez-Wiz that runs through his veins, and then freebasing what he couldn’t melt on a spoon. The fact that it (probably) isn’t real frees him of the pesky burden of discretion that most people deal with when in the throes of relationship woes. The video for “Get Her Back” is coated with subtle clues as to why the two ended the relationship, featuring snippets of coded text message and a visibly bruised up Robin. It continues to add to the mystery of what fueled the couple’s recent separation without providing any additional information. But more so, it’s a fucking fantastic song, and maybe the best he’s put out since “Lost Without You.” And if it only takes a gigantic public hoax that hinges around a fake marriage dissolution to make the public pay attention to good music, then maybe it’s worth it. At least he’s not doing something terrible, like shooting at concert promoters from a moving van, or publicly coming out at a Furry. It’s entertainment. Allow yourself to be entertained by it.

Of Robin Thicke’s five studio albums, the three most successful ones featured a single with a rapper du jour as the guest feature (Lil Wayne with “Shooter,” Nicki with “Shakin’ It For Daddy,” and T.I and Pharrell with “Blurred Lines”). This makes “Get Her Back” all the more refreshing, as it’s an attempt from Robin to stand on his own while attempting to be just as viral as he could be when he had a rape-y song with a video featuring nude women. People may be listening for all of the wrong reasons, watching to see where the latest twist in this dramatic tale might lead, but at least they’re listening.

We’re supposed to observe and critique the art apart from the artist, but living in the twittersystemsphere, where we’re bombarded by the 24-hour hype cycle that deals in every mundane rumour about an artist’s personal life, makes that nearly impossible. An artist’s narrative has become just as, if not more, important than their creative output. That’s the reason why Rick Ross continues to stubbornly insist that his fictional persona is real, or why Wale gets more press for threatening to beat up a journalist than when he releases a “Yayo” remix, or why publicists threaten to pull access when their artist receives less than exceptional press. It’s all part of creating a story that people want to buy into, and it’s a tool used flawlessly by Robin and Paula in this instance. Sometimes it’s real, and sometimes it’s not, but trying to find out the truth is part of why caring about music is enjoyable.

Or, maybe they aren’t faking it. In which case, we wish the couple a speedy and discrete resolution.

Slava P is also temporarily separated from Paula Patton - @SlavaP