Okay so the genesis for this (maybe-series of posts) post comes from my talk of Watchmen on Friday and the why I love it and think it’s a seminal work in comics despite my many issues with it in regards to race, gender and sexuality. So the point is to highlight something that is problematic but I still enjoy. Because we all have those things that we know are bad and have issues but that we like anyway. I think that it’s hard to be the “perfect” activist, you’re gonna like things that you know further an agenda you don’t agree with. I deal with this by dissecting and acknowledging the problems in the things because by doing so we can rob it of a lot of it’s power. When we know the message that’s trying to be communicated to us we can counteract it more easily in ourselves and friends.
Just my theory, you may disagree.
So the problematic thing I enjoy in this post is Katy Perry’s hit song – I Kissed A Girl. Oh beat and rhythm that I love is it possible to numerate all the ways the lyrics go wrong?
These lyrics froth with issues that include - a lack of female agency, a devaluation of lesbian relations and sexuality, treatment of women as only sexual beings unworthy of names, a continued preoccupation with what her boyfriend will think as opposed to what she feels like after this experience, the use of lesbian sexuality as a ploy to titillate therefore ignoring any validity in those feelings, encouraging bi-phobia and detrimentality to the acceptance of bisexuality as a valid identity choice because it can all be written off as experimentation. And possibly a lot more I haven’t picked up on yet, feel free to point them out, yet despite all this there’s something about the music and the sound of Perry’s voice (the deep tone of it) that I really like and I’ve been listening to the song on repeat.
If you haven’t seen it or heard it, here’s the video:
There’s something about the chorus and the way it’s produced that makes me want to move my feet even though I cringe at the calling of this other girl “an experimental game” and the continuing reference to “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”. Now I’m sure some think it’s just a cheeky fun song and I should lay off but pop culture influences everything around us and we ignore the things that gain popularity at our peril.
Verdict: So problematic that I refuse to give her some of my hard earned money in any way but I’ll shake my groove thing to it in the privacy of my own room and discuss the problems with others who enjoy it.
Off-Topic but somewhat related Coda:
Now for politics and validation of alternative sexuality I much prefer Jill Sobule’s song of the same name. The story of two married women who end up finding more pleasure in each other than in their loud, annoying, brutish husbands. They have agenc, they make the decisions and from Jill I can take it because she’s made a career of commentary and satire in her songs. Jill is mocking the belief that lesbianism is a fad or stage of development whereas Katy seems to mock lesbianism itself. Jill Sobule, in case you don’t know, is a brilliant sarcastic singer-songwriter who’s been around for years. She’s articulate, quirky, off-the-wall and always interesting her songs. You might know her songs if not her, she’s a two hit wonder in mainstream music hitting it big with I Kissed A Girl & Supermodel – a sarcastic look at starvation and obsession with pop culture and models particularly.
Jills Sobule’s – I Kissed A Girl