I supported the military-industrial complex and I liked it
There are plenty of reasons to boycott Katy Perry.
Beyond the obvious fact that her “music” sucks, there’s the fact that she began her career with a homophobic song called “Ur So Gay,” and then followed it up with the incredibly exploitative (and just plain moronic) “I Kissed A Girl.” Then in 2010, she managed to piss on the legacies of Brian Wilson and Alex Chilton with the atrocious single “California Gurls.”
Oh, and she willingly had intercourse with Russell Brand, thereby enabling him to do that godawful Arthur remake.
But brainwashing people into joining the military? That’s certainly a new one.
Yes, this week, noted feminist-who-is-oft-reviled-by-other-feminists Naomi Wolf called for a boycott of Katy Perry because of the video for her new single “Part Of Me,” in which she plays a Marine. Wolf claims that the video is a “glorification of violence,” and goes on to describe it as “Marine propaganda.”
So, getting the obvious “Simpsons did it!” out of the way, does she have a point? Well, maybe. Hollywood and the military have been in bed for years, with numerous movies being made to make the military look good. What goes on in this video is pretty much your basic G.I. Jane routine, with the small difference that Perry never tells anyone to suck her dick.
Actually, this video has the same problem as that movie. Both aspire to be feminist statements that depict strong, powerful women, but neither avoids feeding into the decidedly patriarchal, militarized notion of strength. Additionally, both thrive on the notion that the traditional idea of masculinity (i.e. being able to beat other people up) is something to which one should aspire, and that a woman embodying those traits is somehow empowered — rather than just a violent asshole.
So, even if this video wasn’t an intentional piece of propaganda, it’s still certainly problematic, but is it really boycott-worthy? Well, it’s hard for me to say because there’s no way I’d buy a Katy Perry album in a million years. Perry’s military aggrandizement, while certainly troublesome (or just plain moronic) is hardly unique. She’s one of many who work in an entertainment industry that collaborates with the military more than it should.
Of course, not every female performer who dresses up in military garb is doing it in the name of propaganda. Just look at Kate Bush, in the video for “Army Dreamers,” a song which thoroughly blasts the military, portraying it as a system that takes men in the prime of their life, and robs them of their potential at best, and kills them at worst. Oh, if only Katy Perry could be that cool.
Considering how reportedly liberal Hollywood is, you’d think it wouldn’t be so willing to blatantly promote the ideals of the military, but that’s what happens in an industry where money is queen. People like to go see movies where brown people get their “comeuppance” as Captain Joe Kickass blows them to smithereens, so the movie industry is going to keep making them. Videos like “Part of Me,” where women being turned into killing machines is somehow viewed as feminism tend to play well, too. So expect more of that.
So, yeah, Wolf has a point when she says this video glorifies violence, but I’m not sure how boycotting Katy Perry provides us with a solution. She’s merely one cog in a machine that runs on money (presuming this is intentional propaganda and not just plainly moronic), and will happily portray violence as noble to keep on chugging along. If you want things to change, maybe stop going to violent war movies where the United States is unequivocally portrayed as the good guys. Katy Perry’s “music” is pretty bad, and I wouldn’t recommend listening to it anyway, but if you want a boycott that might actually affect something, I’d stick to people like Michael Bay or Barack Obama. They both love it when robots blow shit up.