Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You're Just a Katy Perry in A Gaga World

The ladies in photoshoots for their next album.
My whole office has been abuzz with the rivalry between two pop-culture giants in music that each have enough moon men and Grammy's as Meryl has Oscars. But let's talk about these two in terms of a Mulveyian skew if we might. Or even Molly Haskell, to me, one is synonymous with the other. If you don't know who they are really quick; Laura Mulvey wrote the seminal film essay 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' which people read to this day in they Intro to Film class all over the country, and yes I met her once at a conference. It was awesome. Last thing she wants to talk about is that essay :P and she loves red wine. Molly Haskell is Andrew Sarris' widow, who's most famous work is an book, also seminal in its own way and much more incendiary; 'From Reverence to Rape; The Treatment of Women in Movies' basically both of these scholars had the same idea and different ways of getting there. In pure layman's terms; the female, when manifest on the screen creates a somewhat dangerous relationship with her viewer, presumably male. Meaning that she puts herself in a context in which she is desired, which at first light, one might assume the facade of being symbiotic, and actually healthy, but both argue that it is tricky territory because as the object of desire, the woman is both threatening in her symbolism of castration (Mulvey) and as the object of desire ignites caveman DNA in the male who wishes to possess her (Haskell). 
Ok with all that academic jargon out of the way, let's talk about Perry and Gaga. What's happening right now? They are both releasing new albums; Gaga has 'ArtPop' (which might be a nod to Warhol, I'm not sure) and Katy Perry has 'Prism', and both of their new singles suck I'm sorry but they do. So let's just objectify them and treat them for what they are, though both are innovative, they are both living gimmicks, let's just be honest. 
ArtPop single cover.

Here's the thing, I've watched Katy Perry's latest video for 'Roar' and my god was it the worst piece of shit ever. I don't even think she qualifies as being desirable on screen, except igniting my desire to be gone from it.But Katy Perry has always objectified herself by playing on words and gestures in order to keep innocence while maintaining a level of absolute sexual prowess. She's maintained a certain level of 'girlhood' while clearly being a sexually aware woman...kind of like Britney, but she's obnoxious with it and suggestively eats marshmallow pops and has fireworks shooting out of her tits like anyone is going to be turned on by that. 
Katy Perry in her single 'Roar'
Gaga on the other hand, has been such a chameleon it's really difficult to put her into a Mulvey or Haskell context, but probably easier with the former because of her androgyny and yet very clear acknowledgement of her womanhood. And before we go any further, Gaga had sparks flying out of her bra long before Katy Perry decided to do that so, nyah. Because she's clearly a woman but does not play coy, but plays exactly the opposite which is her strength and 'empowerment' she is more threatening to the male viewer because of that (unless of course you're in her little monster gay man fan base (of which I'm an honorary member)), thereby toying with both ends of the spectrum. She is threatening and desirable at the same time. Forget the meat dress, the cigarette sunglasses, all of the fashion LSD she's on; and think that for that she's actually ahead of the curve on this one, because a woman is always either one or the other. Also it doesn't help that her music are basically anthems for the LGBT community and that in her mid-20's she's accomplished more than it takes some a lifetime to do. Katy recently has been criticizing female pop-stars for being 'hyper-sexulaized' I'm assuming she's talking about Miley Cyrus naked writhing on a wrecking ball, but hey, until you stop performing with your comically over-sized boobs out and simulating fellatio on candy I'm going to keep calling you a hypocrite. I guess what I'm trying to say is I hate Katy Perry.
But then again I was never a huge fan of Gaga either (I had to pretend for my gay friends), but I would say like Christina Aguilera who is very much an original and a traleblazer in every sense of the world, she was likened to Gaga when she put out her 'Bionic' record, and hunnies she lost. Gaga built a protective shield around herself where her antics actually paid off, and she doesn't look no where near stopping, and even though she's probably already tried everything, that's what they said of Bowie after his Ziggy Stardust days were over and everyone said he was washed up.
I think what a huge difference is that Katy is always seemingly surrounded by guys who want to fuck her, while Gaga is surrounded by well...that, but also guys that want to embody her in a sense, that want to be 'castrated' as Mulvey would put it just so they can be fabulous for a few minutes and wear that sideways crown. 

If you want to read 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' and I highly suggest you do, you can find it here: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Below I'm putting two videos from each starlet that I think perfectly encapsulate their identities as pop stars and also as women: 

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