Katy Perry-The Postergirl for GLBTIQ Music?
It’s official. Out is completely o-u-t of touch with the LGBTIQ community at large.
Out magazine’s Hot 100 issue features Katy Perry on the cover. And, as a blogger at AfterElton.com says: “It begs the question, ‘What the hell is Katy Perry doing on there?’”
The question is a good one. Perry is a straight performer with a Christian background who really only pretends to go bad on her album, dubiously named One of the Boys. Tracks such as “I Kissed a Girl”, “One of the Boys”, “ur so gay” and “Mannequin” prove that Katy Perry is as heteronormative and homophobic as the Catholic Pope. Only Perry’s a mainstream phenomenon with chart topping hits. That makes her especially dangerous.
So let’s explore the music of Katy Perry a little deeper and find out why, exactly, Out’s choice of Perry as Musician of the Year is like stabbing oneself in the foot.
The Music of Katy Perry
If you identify as a feminist or happen to have any feminist beliefs at all, listening—I mean really listening—to Katy Perry’s One of the Boys album will make you feel like you’ve willingly submitted yourself to be tortured. The album is basically the conservative right with a new image. That of the ‘good girl gone bad…but not really’ image. If you don’t believe me…well, let’s go through a few of the album’s tracks.
Take for example the title track, “One of the Boys”. As the very first track on the CD, it makes you wonder if you really want to listen to the rest of the album. (You don’t. believe me.) The opening lines are “I saw a spider I didn’t scream/cuz I can belch the alphabet, just double dog dare me/I chose the guitar over ballet/and I take these suckers down because they just get in my way.”
First of all—how in the world does belching the alphabet help you not scream when you see a spider? Do you mean that by doing that I’ll never scream when I see a spider? And are you stuck in the 70s, Katy? The guitar is more of an equal-opportunity instrument now, it’s really not a “boy” thing. The rest of the song continues in that vein as Perry paints boys as nasty smelling creatures who just wanna make out with girls while the girls are pearly princesses who like reading 17 and shaving their legs so they can make the boys stand in line if they want to date her. Thanks, Katy. We really appreciate all the work you’re doing by putting us boys and girls back into our positions. I’ll go buy my issue of Cosmo now, since I’m a few years too old for 17.
The next track was Katy Perry’s long-lasting chart hit, “I Kissed a Girl.” If you’re still listening to the album, you may want to stop now. It only gets worse from here. This song is a straight guy’s fantasy more than anything else. It’s the musical equivalent of two girls making out with each other so a bouncer can get his kicks and allow them to get in for free. It’s cheap. Easy. And insulting, degrading, and shallow. But that beat is hard to forget once you’ve heard it. And that what makes Katy Perry more dangerous than most neo-conservative fanatics. You can tune them out easily. But trying to tune Katy Perry out… it can be difficult.
Throughout the song Perry assures listeners that she’s straight with the line “I hope my boyfriend won’t mind.” She also assures listeners that while she may be ‘experimenting’, it’s definitely not a serious affair. That girl she’s making out with, the one with the yummy cherry chapstick? Oh, don’t worry. She’s going to be nameless. She was just a pawn in Katy’s game to make herself seem like more of a ‘bad girl’ for her boyfriend. As she sings, “this isn’t what good girls do.”
After that, we have a semblance of a break. “Waking up in Vegas” kills the insults thrown by the earlier songs, as does the not-very-memorable song “Thinking of You.” But then we have a song Out would have done well to know about before they made Perry Musician of the Year. “Mannequin” is the ultimate in boxed gender/male bashing songs. If Perry identified as a feminist, she would be the kind that Nellie Furtado was referring to. (by the way, if you’re still listening to this album, I’m done warning you. Have fun in your musical torture chamber.)
The second and third verses of “Mannequin” says everything you need to know about the singer’s view of mankind. And then some.
“[I’m] Usually the queen
At figuring out
Breaking down the man
Is no workout
But I have no clue
How to get through to youI wanna hit you
Just to see if you cry
Keep knockin on wood
A real boy inside”
Is this not a warning signal? If this was written and sung by a guy, (“[I’m] usually the king at figuring out/breaking down the woman is no workout”), we’d see a lot of character examination of the artist. But then it helps that “Mannequin” isn’t a hit single. But that’s not the end of the story. One of the Boys hit gold status, meaning the album has sold more than 500,000 copies. The album. Not single tracks.
That means there are thousands of people out there who took the CD home and listened to it and love songs like “Mannequin” because of its great beat. Isn’t it great how a good beat takes precedence over message?
But, I digress. After saying how much she’d like to hit the boy she’s with, Perry continues to say how, because he’s not a real man (he’s just a mannequin), he can’t recognize the fact that her love is real. Oh, and if only he’d let her in and be a “Real Man” she’d fix him. Wow, Katy. I can only hope that these lyrics were vomited up and don’t apply to your real relationships. Because if that’s the case, you need to reexamine what a relationship actually is.
Right after “Mannequin” we have the last very-insulting song and Katy’s first big hit. “Ur So Gay.” Bad spelling aside, this is just a bad song. Where networks like the N (Nickelodeon’s teen network that airs shows like Degrassi and South of Nowhere” are trying to fight back on the usage of the word “gay” as synonymous with “stupid”, Katy uses the word unabashedly to insult her ex-boyfriend.
“I hope you hang yourself with your H+M scarf,” she says.
“You don’t eat meat and drive electrical cars,” she says.
“I can’t believe I fell in love with someone who wears more make up [than me],” she says.
“You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys,” she says.
At this point it becomes necessary to take a very deep breath and try to remember the one good line of this song: “You’re so sad, maybe you should buy a happy meal.” That’s a funny line. The one good thing about this song.
The rest….well, let’s take a look. Perry starts the song off by saying “I hope you hang yourself with your H+M Scarf.” Wow. Violence seems to be a recurring theme on this CD. Rather, violence towards men.
Out magazine, you should be very proud of your choice. Really.
Like she’s done with gender throughout the album, Perry starts putting gay people into boxes. If you’re gay, you must be driving electrical cars and vegan. You must be wearing more makeup than her. You must be more interested in myspace than anything else. And the list goes on.
It’s one big insult wrapped into one song.
Oh wait—did I say that “Ur So Gay” was the last insulting song? I kind of lied, but I won’t go into the other insulting song in much detail. A quick premise of the non-single “If You Can Afford Me.” Basically it’s what the title suggests. Ms. Perry seems to think herself the “crème de la crop” and admits to being high maintenance, but a guy who dates her is just gonna have to accept that.
Women, in the world of One of the Guys are girly-girls, and if they break against the grain, they’ll find themselves out of luck when it comes to dating and need a complete revamping so they can become super girly. They like pearls. They’re expensive. They’re all about appearance.
Guys, a la One of the Guys are stinky. They want their girls to be homecoming queens and pretty in pearls. They’re expected to indulge in buying their girlfriends lots of stuff if they want to have a relationship. Oh, and if they don’t fall under these preset conditions…they’re gay.
And queer people, what little time they have throughout the album are either a)experimenting but not real—which only applies to women and b)stupid.
Essentially, Katy Perry is the best thing the neoconservative movement could ask for. They just don’t know it.
And by making Perry the cover girl and Musician of the Year, Out has proved that it is little more than a stray dog, grasping at whatever scraps it can get from the oppressive owner.
There is good news. On AfterEllen.com, the nominees for best Lesbian/Bi Musician of the Year doesn’t include Katy Perry. And she’s not listed as under the Best Straight Ally, either. Clearly, not everyone is fooled by the “I Kissed a Girl” image.