June 19, 2010

Did you forget you're a role model, Katy Perry?

Katy Perry is at the top of the pop star game with her latest single California Gurls currently at #1.   As it turns out, if you have a catchy tune no one really questions or cares about the lyrics which is in this case is good for Katy Perry because she says nothing of any substance.  At all.   This, however, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise seeing as her claim to fame was “I Kissed a Girl”, a song that did nothing but sell a girl-on-girl heterosexual male fantasy in the form of a CD.  Go figure.  Granted, she does write *most* of her own lyrics and therefore is the only one to thank for the enlightening and empowering messages young girls are consuming all over the country right now:

California girls
We’re unforgettable
Daisy Dukes
Bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin
So hot
Will melt your popsicle
Oooooh Oh Oooooh

To be quite frank, I don’t personally understand the appeal to her music as I find it to be beyond lame.  It is a classic example of just how devoid of originality and substance our pop culture landscape is and it does a perfect job of keeping women in an overly sexualized one-dimensional category.  It is songs like this that reinforce our ever growing need for more sheroes and a deconstruction of the messages that we are financially supporting and constantly consuming without batting an eyelash.

In a recent Jezebel post by Dodai, the pop message is explained crystal clear:

Tale as old as time: Love me; I’m pretty! Her cupcake boobs and suggestive frosting-licking are campy fun, though disappointing on some level, since the only message seems to be: I am here for your consumption. Eat me.

As if the lyrics weren’t ridiculously dull enough, the cupcake filling shooting out of her cupcake breasts left me at a complete loss, extremely confused and in search for some sort of justification.  Upon further investigation and a quick visit to Wikipedia, I learned that Katy Perry  had quite the religious upbringing, raised by two Pastors.  In fact, she started singing in her church at the age of nine and her first CD was a self-titled gospel album.   So, naturally after her tweet blasting Lady Gaga’s new video  this past week as “blasphemous” I couldn’t help but spot the irony.  I mean, it’s kind of hard to miss in a skintight  rubber dress.

The fact of the matter is that Katy Perry (lame music and all) is extremely popular right now.  Whether she likes it or not she is a popular public figure and by default a role model for young women  and girls. What exactly does it say about our present female ‘role model’ that the best she can come up with are insipid, sexually explicit lyrics that promote her as nothing more than a Candyland piece waiting to be eaten up by Snoop Dogg?


  1. Great post Marley! I also couldn’t help but notice while watching the video (which was difficult to watch the whole way through) how all her minority back-up dancers are trapped in some way – in a bubble, wrapped in plastic (which was creepy), and Katy gets to free them, so they can all dance for Snoop’s enjoyment. Weird, creepy, and gross.

    Comment by Rachel — June 19, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  2. The title of “role model” is one that is put on some people just to shame them and control them, either to praise or to demand better. This same argument comes up in sports, movies, and everything else, and it’s always used in this same way.

    The song is sexist and quite possibly vaguely racist (I couldn’t tell the race of the second two of her damsels in distress, so I can’t second Rachel’s assessment,) but it’s also a campy pop song and a campy video. Since the sources are Snoop Dogg, Candyland, insipid Summer songs, and Katy Perry, if the best a critic can come up with is “There are children present!” then it’s probably not the worst thing ever.

    Which doesn’t make it a good thing, but still…

    Comment by jon — June 20, 2010 @ 5:32 am

  3. Agree, I was having a discussion with a co worker the other day about how there is a difference between owning your sexuality (and not hiding it) and using sexuality as a way to sell this image of what girls should be (no talking about prostitution).

    But using the word ‘lame’ to mean sucky (or whatever) is not cool, bro.

    Comment by Nanci — June 22, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  4. I agree with you, Marley. I think the video is lame and so is her message to girls everywhere. It’s all so sad, really.

    The bottom seems to have fallen out for teenage girls and, as a 42 year old, I’m always counting my blessings that I did not have to be a teenage girl growing up in a world full of hyper-sexualized messages. It’s confusing enough to be a teenage girl trying to figure out who you really are, never mind having to be presented with a constant throng of images that tell you that, unless you’re sexy and sexual, you just aren’t measuring up.

    The real cost of all of this hyper-sexualized madness is far greater than society is willing to admit, much less recognize.

    Comment by Sabrina — July 1, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  5. “The real cost of all of this hyper-sexualized madness is far greater than society is willing to admit, much less recognize.”

    Thanks for this.. I like your whole comment. Teenage girls are at risk of falling into a peer trap and cult of personalities.

    Comment by Rogue Spyware — July 18, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

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