Friday, July 4, 2008

Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl

Lots of talk this week about Katy Perry. (You will note, I am not linking. Find her your damn self.)

I kind of want to like her, I really do. The record company is selling me an image that appeals. And even though the song is incredibly catchy, and I don't mind her voice or delivery, I feel a little bit ill every time I hear "I Kissed A Girl".

Lots of bloggers are quick to point out that Jill Sobule did "I Kissed A Girl" first, and many of them think she did a better job as well. And while this is probably true, I don't feel to bad for Jill. I mean, the new version of her song might be the best thing to have happened to her one-hit-wonder career in ages. It's not that the concept of the song is ripped off that bothers me - I mean, isn't like, 90% of music about the same concept?

What bothers me is that Katy Perry is being sold to us as some sort of unique and independant artist, who wrote this song all by herself, and it is expressing her own experience. If this were the case, I'd likely still be annoyed, because this song is a musical equivalent to two straight girls making out in a bar to get free shots. We all turn to look, don't we? The attention getting antics are working.

The thing is, if she had actually written the song all on her own, I could give it some justification by suggesting that Ms. Perry is clever, at least clever enough to exploit this social fascination with straight girls kissing. However, since the writing credits go to four people, including two men, I feel like this is less her own concept and instead a desperate label trying to ensure a break out hit for their new darling.

The lyrics, completely devoid of any emotion, make this a party anthem. While Katy is being sold to us as some sort of indie hipster, I fear a nation full of tween pop-tarts will be kissing their girlfriends to this song during drunken bush parties while their acne-faced teen boyfriends look on with hoots and hollers. Hardly the image they are pushing on us.

The thing is, I'm all for girls making out. I really am. I'd rather it not be for the male gaze however. I'd rather it be for their own amusement. This sort of song cheapens lesbianism and bisexuality to a spectator sport; it portrays Katy's sexuality as dumb, drunk and irresponsible. It reduces women, who have actually been curious about their attraction to women, as silly, experimental tarts. I'm tired of women allowing large marketing engines exploit them for fame. I'm tired of bisexuality being painted as a phase.

This song wraps up all of those feelings in a neat little package.

Not to mention how much the video makes me want to break something.

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