21. Katy Perry: Part of Me: Katy Cries
You may think I have put this one place higher than ‘Requiem for a Dream’ for the shock value. But no. Truth be told, the fact that the Katy Perry Ego Project moved me as deeply as it did was as much as a surprise to me as anyone.
Now to clarify- I am not a Katy Perry fan. The reasons for this are numerous and extremely fair so I will try not to get too carried away listing them. In a nutshell:
1) She found a way to market herself that worked and she ran with it but rather than saying that, she has to insist that she is authentic and real and just like other girls which just makes her come across as shallow, vain and not very bright. The film works hard to try and convince me otherwise, emphasising that she is very involved in every choice in her career like what graphics should be playing behind her during her gigs. Bet that was a tough day at the office.
2) The film also tries to sway me into believing that she is a naturally gifted talent whose determination and accessible songs about dabbling with homosexuality before returning to the comfort of the heteronormative couple at the end of the video because of course she’s not actually gay that would be gross spoke to a generation, conveniently ignoring the fact that every song on every album has a laundry list of writers and/or producers, many of whom are the best in the business, to create easily consumed and then easily disposed of ear worms. And her voice. Fucking hell…
And if you want to defend her by saying this video came about via witchcraft and she has an amazing range etc I suggest you open 10 random KP live vocals and listen to them back to back. Yeah. 9/10 she suuuuuuccccccckkkkks. Even when she is on it, it is rough as fuck. Hell I JUST read a defence of her on another video where someone actually said: ‘She hit some of the notes really well!’ She is a professional singer!!!! If a surgeon ‘did her best’ and cut out your ruptured appendix but replaced it with an angry turtle would you say that was a job well done? No! You can either do something well or you can’t and technically speaking Katy Perry sounds like a goose getting fucked by a dolphin. If the girl dressed in jeans and a Tshirt and didn’t look like an animé character would anyone be listening?
4) Even the songs do nothing for me, but that is really about personal taste so I won’t rag on them too much. Except ‘I Kissed a Girl’ that song can all kinds of fuck off. In the interest of full disclosure there are a few that I don’t mind but most of them leave me cold.
5) The film tells me she is smart and funny but provides no evidence to back this up. She goes on and on and on about life being like a fairytale and how everything happens for a reason and how much she loves her fans and…She could not be more basic.
Ok, ok before the Katy Kittycats or whatever they call themselves descend and ask why I wasted my time watching a film about a popstar I don’t even like…That is a good question. That is an excellent question. Man, what a point. Here is the thing.
I never liked her but I was always kind of fascinated by her. Like Tom Cruise, I would watch her on chat shows as she tried to act like a mammal, cracking jokes, listening to other people, appealing to the audience and she could never quite pull it off. The smile didn’t reach those big ol’ eyes.
There was something missing. Was it just this hunger for attention, a desperate, guttural need to be loved?
Turns out, yes. Katy Perry dated British comedian Russell Brand for a few months and they got engaged. A short time after that they got married. She went on a world tour. During the tour, an increasingly exhausted and burnt out Perry, who broke records that year for topping the charts 5 times meaning for 6 straight months there was always a Perry song in the top 10, received a text from her Husband letting her know he was going to divorce her.
During this time she was being filmed for a documentary about her tour that was part concert film, 3-D and everything, and part fly on the wall. Of course there are also loads of interviews with fans explaining why Katy Perry is the most important person in the whole entire universe.
So prior to a concert in Brazil commencing we see Katy sprawled out on a chair crying as her staff/friends stand around murmuring concerns. One of them offers that Katy is feeling depressed. She says it like she has just heard of these things humans call emotions and is not quite sure if she is pronouncing the word correctly. It becomes very clear very quickly that we have reached the point in the story where Perry’s year long marriage has reached an abrupt end. So sad right?
Well…actually yes. I had hardly been paying attention during my viewing of the film. The bright colours were distracting sure but my guilty curiosity had abated and I wasn’t massively enjoying my backstage pass to the world of Katy. But then I saw her cry. I heard her let out a strangled sob as she was given a necklace from her Husband, a gift thought lost, and I watched her put it on. Then I saw her try and pull herself together to do her show.
Sure it all feels a little bit performed what with her dramatically asking her make up guy to start putting her back together…I’m not a total idiot. I know documentaries have constructed narratives. Hell the scene prior to this one ends with a bubble bursting for fuck’s sake. I get it. The dream is over. The fairytale Perry convinced herself was hers for the taking has crumbled like a gingerbread castle inevitably would. And all that is left is thousands and thousands of cheering fans. But it is not enough. And even if this is a bit fictional, I got invested. I believed her hurt.
The story gets harder to sit through though. It was like a horror film I couldn’t look away from as Katy, all dressed up in her candy twirling frock and dark wig tries to participate in her pre show huddle with all the dancers and starts to sob again as someone mutters a vague confused platitude. She is young and heart broken and literally nobody around her knows what to say or do to help or support her. She makes her way to the trap door that will take her to the stage, sobbing so hard she can hardly stand straight. Then she waits there. And it happens.
Katy Perry takes a deep breath, sets her candy tits spinning and plasters a creepy, empty smile on her face as she rises from the pit into the glaring lights and her adoring crowd. I am not going to lie: I cried until my whole body was shaking.
Why? Who knows. I think because the mystery of the commercially successful popstar who I like making fun of suddenly didn’t seem such a mystery. Good singer or bad singer, self aware or clueless, smart or stupid, real or fake: She had to smile. She HAD to.
(The quality of the footage is poor. Sorry about that)
The clip I have included here cuts off before Katy Perry performs a love ballad for the crowd as they chant that they love her. Katy gets weepy with gratitude and thanks them for their support. But the smile doesn’t reach her eyes.
Tomorrow…A Korean film offers up a torture technique I will never forget…#20