Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Expanded "You Know..."

I did a quick Tumblr post yesterday that, for me, has been quite popular. Here is the text:

If Katy Perry’s first song wasn’t about faux bisexuality we wouldn’t know who she is. She’s got a lot of balls to critique another artist for taking a stab at something provocative. You know what else is like a comedian telling fart jokes? Making out with another chick just to be a cock tease.

Now, this all came about after reading Katy Perry's Twitter post regarding Lady Gaga's Alejandro video. "Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke," she stated. First, a few Grammar/Fact Nazi comments.

Blasphemy is an affront to the judeo-christian god. Calling the deity a douche-bag is blasphemy. Sacrilege is an affront against the judeo-christian church. Nunsploitation is sacrilege. As far as fart jokes go, George Carlin regularly did fart jokes that were neither cheap nor unfunny.

Now, it is fairly plain that I am a Lady Gaga enthusiast. I don't count myself as a "little monster" or fan in the traditional "fanatic" sense. Also, while I find her to have a great deal of talent I will readily admit that much of her persona is derivative of David Bowie and Madonna.

If you have not seen it, here is the Alejandro video in question:

To me, the most offensive thing about this video is that is has nothing to do with the lyrics, but that is hardly a legitimate complaint. Music video imagery rarely has much to do with the lyrics. It does, however match the song. Alejandro is easily the most Madonna-esque of Lady Gaga's songs. It hearkens back to the True Blue and Like a Prayer era Madonnas. The video is full of Madonna imagery, particularly the video for Respect Yourself, and obviously Like a Prayer. I also see a lot of Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation in it. Some of it in the militaristic visuals, but also in that at the time Rhythm Nation was considered extravagant. Videos were, however, a big deal then. Remember, MTV actually played videos then.

My problem with Perry's statement is that it has nothing to do with the video, aside from the knee-jerk reactionary arguments that people made about Like a Prayer. The minor complaint I have is that she is pandering to the religious fringe in this country, but what's worse is she is being a hypocrite. Not only is I Kissed a Girl a song that sold a great deal because it was shocking to some, but it is derivative as well. Some time ago, there was another I Kissed a Girl by Jill Sobule. Sobule's song was more twee rock, but was essentially the same song. Perry also hearkens back to Joan Jett's penchant for glam rock and sexual ambiguity. People were shocked when Joan Jett sang Crimson and Clover and did not change the lyrics to reflect a female-to-male relationship, but demanded that you consider it a female-to-female relationship. Certainly Jett did this with purpose, but it is a better purpose. When questioned about her sexuality (I believe by George Stroumboulopoulos on The Hour) she explained that she is purposefully deceptive about her own preference because she does not want to exclude anyone in her fan base from thinking they have a shot. Rock and roll is sexual, so why exclude anyone from thinking a song is about them?

I never cared either way about Katy Perry before. I Kissed a Girl is a good song. So is Waking Up in Vegas. I do find You're So Gay to be an offensive song, especially since it is couched with I Kissed a Girl, but not so much that I formed any strong opinion of her. I will say that her lack of self-awareness is offensive. Not just the items above, but also that she is marrying a non-christian, recovering drug and sex addict (I love Russell Brand, and am not trying to disrespect him). She should consider, as we all should, what we say and how it fits into the "glass houses and throwing stones" allegory. Decrying another artist for offending your religion when you have offended it as well is highly hypocritical and borderline fascist.


Nathan said...

I've also heard that Katy Perry has made fart jokes, so that makes her comment either even more hypocritical or slyly self-deprecating, depending on how much credit you want to give her. (Personally, I don't give her much.)

Darius Whiteplume said...

Of course, she's not a comedienne, so it isn't cheap for her I guess? :-)

I'm not convinced sly is part of her skill set either.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Like with all these 'product' poor Katy is just starting to believe her own hype and when you do that you stop being in on the joke. Like all of them she needs to just shut up and do her thing before the next flavor of the week comes along.

And is it just me or is she so obvious? Unattractively so?

I am constantly amazed that only the stupid ones get all the attention. Charlie Sheen gets to negotiate the terms of his jail sentence for threatening his wife with a knife - negotiations that fall apart because they can't agree on his smoking privileges? I give up.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I am surprised Lady Gaga gets all the "attention whore" name calling. Perry is just as "look at me!" whenever I see her anywhere.

Of course I'd be less offended now if I had not been nudged by Nathan into finding Ms P making fart jokes of her own.

The thing I didn't mention, because it did not fit, is how much Lady Gaga's over-the-top star persona is so like the phase U2 went through around the time of Achtung Baby! They were tired of being the serious no-frills band and went so far the other way that they lost some fans. Fortunately, the music still stood up and they couldn't just be thrown in the pop music dumpster. I think Gaga is doing the same thing, she just skipped the whole low-rent rise part of it. She is mocking fame as she embraces it. I think La Gaga is going to be around for a while, and Katy Perry is a few steps away from being Meredith Brooks.

Nathan said...

Really, any hint that Lady Gaga's work is controversial is probably going to be beneficial to her. I like Lady Gaga, but I don't think she's at all edgy. I find her music fun and her over-the-top style amusing, but neither is shocking, like she seems to want people to think. As for Katy Perry, I like her style but don't care for her music, and I get the impression she's not all that bright. Not that I think Gaga is an intellectual giant, but she seems more self-aware, you know?

I also think it's weird that Perez Hilton is apparently friends with Katy Perry when the theme of "I Kissed a Girl" is kind of homophobic, but I'm not sure consistency is his strong point.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I think Gaga's strengths, aside from being a talented songwriter, is in marketing. In her interview with Barbara Walters she said (I am assuming truth) that her father was sick, and she wanted to make sure they were financially secure. She was already a known item at NYU, and had some club cred. Add the Grammy nomination and you've got a record deal. She's in excellent company with her first album. According to Wikipedia/Billboard:

Most top ten songs from one album: (7 each)
* Michael Jackson - Thriller
* Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
* Janet Jackson – Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
* Lady Gaga - The Fame

Perry and Perez Hilton don't make sense to me. Her song You're So Gay is kind of just her calling some straight guy a fag. Hardly gay friendly.

kenchan13 said...

Awesome post! Damn i wish i could write like this.

Post a Comment