Drunk on truth to stupid baby power.

Katy Perry: Private Part of Me

Photo courtesy of Katy Perry Tumblr, trusted source.

I was 25 the first time I let Katy Perry into my heart. My aunt Ana tossed me the keys to her Eclipse to retrieve something from her house for her baby shower. On my way back to the country club where the party was held, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” came on the radio. I’d never allowed myself to listen to Katy Perry’s music, but within the private confines of Ana’s Eclipse, away from Last.fm scrobbling and Spotify tracking, it was safe to open my mind and ears to it. By the final chorus, I was sincerely singing along, with the windows rolled up and my head bobbing somewhat to the beat. It was my first sip of the Katy Perry Kool-Aid.

I first became aware of Ms. Perry at the same time as the rest of mainstream America. Her single “I Kissed A Girl” easily kindled a successful career worldwide. I resented that a song celebrating the Spring Break Lesbian was spreading to every overhead speaker I walked under and every radio stationed I tuned to. It wasn’t that I was against sexual experimentation, I just felt the lyrics mirrored the ignorance and denial that many people regard human sexuality with. I couldn’t get behind someone who used it as a platform to establish herself as a pop artist. As far as I was concerned, Katy Perry was a basic b who had made it.

Photos courtesy of Katy Perry Tumblr, trusted source.

So when I listened to “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” in my aunt’s car that day in 2011, I felt a secret thrill. The song was fun to sing along to and there was no moody subtext to pick apart. Last Friday night was crazy, and here’s what happened, the end. It was the gateway to more Katy Perry: Pretty soon I was onto the single “E.T.”, telling myself that the Kanye West cameo was what sold it. Not long after that, a friend sent me a YouTube video of the P.S. 22 children’s chorus covering “Firework,” a performance that inspires and comforts me even now. I turned to Ms. Perry’s original version of the song on Spotify, reasoning that I might get in trouble at work if I were caught re-watching the video on the clock. Eventually I allowed myself to enjoy these songs for what they were, not caring who saw my weekly listening activity but also not interested in announcing my love for them.

I’d heard my favorite blogger talk about the documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me on a podcast, and promptly added the movie to my Netflix queue. In the following months, I would hover my mouse over it tentatively before deciding on something else to watch. I wasn’t ready for it, and I wasn’t sure why not, or whether I ever would be. Finally, I went for it one Sunday morning. My roommates were gone, I had cheese fries delivered to my apartment for breakfast, and there were chores that needed putting off. By the time the end credits rolled, I’d been brought to tears four times, the first incident of which was during the opening credits. The documentary opens at the kick-off of Ms. Perry’s California Dreams tour in 2011 and follows her through a demanding schedule, physical exhaustion, and [SPOILER ALERT] a public divorce with then-husband Russell Brand. Ms. Perry’s earnestness and dedication to her fans struck a chord with me, and watching her break down in a makeup chair felt too real.

I wouldn’t go so far as to consider myself a fan of hers, since she keeps making racially-charged mistakes under the guise of doe-eyed innocence. I recognize that this movie was made to boost Katy Perry’s career, and that it was edited with the intentions of making this pop star lovable and easy to relate to. At the end you’re left with a new idea of who she is, or who she wants you to believe she is. Either is fine with me, since it’s unlikely we’ll be meeting for brunch in the near future. The movie succeeded in making her a real person to me, and I appreciate that it took her some years and a couple of record labels to get to where she is now. Now that I feel like I know the person responsible for the mild banger “Dark Horse,” I can worry a little less about who hears her music leaking out of my headphones during my commute on the subway.


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