Pop Culture–Katy Perry, “Roar”

21 Sep

katy perry


I don’t understand Katy Perry.   Ok, well I understand what she’s doing, but I don’t understand why she’s so big.   I looked at her website and it seems like tween girls are the ones who follow her, which makes sense…I guess….?   The biggest thing about her music is how banal it is.    Also, have you noticed that she’s slowly morphing into a boobier version of Courtney Cox?

So this song is trying really hard to be a “you-go-girl” anthem, with the singer once being held down by “you” but now she’s going to “ROAR.”    The lyrics are filled with every cliche imaginable: she’s got the “eye of the tiger” she “is the champion” “she stood for nothing, so she fell for everything.”  It’s sort of like an empowerment song written with the mentality of a thirteen year old cheerleader.   Now I’m not looking at this as art, because though I think Katy Perry is talented I don’t consider this song crafted for any expressive purpose.  It is product, pure and simple, and what I find interesting is what it’s trying to do.

One thing I notice is how many songs by female artists catering themselves to teenage girls is how prevalent the break-up song is.   If you think about it, why would a grown woman like Katy Perry be in a relationship in the first place that “held her down.”   Why would two adults be involved in a relationship where one had to be held down?   The truth is that this song is not about romantic relationships at all.

Roar is catering to the Twilight crowd.  Tweens don’t primarily feel held down by their pre-romantic relationships.  They feel held down by their parents.  So we’re into adolescent fantasy.   “You used to hold me down, tell me what to do, but now I’m going to have my own voice and do what I want.”   The video underlines this because what does Katy Perry do after she moves to the jungle with this new power?  She paints elephant’s toenails, she makes a flower skirt, she makes the island into a big giant multi-species sleepover.

The other group that gets into twilight is middle-aged women, and this has to do with mid-life crisis stuff.   Not much is said about mid-life crises for women, we’re accustomed to the male cliche centered around getting stupid cars and being around bimbos.  It’s amazing how similar it is for women–after spending half their life doing things for other people (their family), suddenly they’re left with adult children, and they go back to an adolescent place emotionally.   Not because they feel the same as they did with their parents, but because it’s the last time they really thought about themselves.   It’s  a starting point for growth.   I also think that middle aged adults reach for that adolescent mindset because it seems so much simpler than the complexities of being a middle-aged–they both have to do with finding direction, and that’s one of the hardest parts of being human.

That being said, Roar really plays to the broadest, most generic, least threatening aspect of this sort of thinking.  This is not a song that someone will really inspire someone into  being strong and changing the world.  This is a song that inspires adults into having a spa day or buying a new pair of shoes because “you deserve it.”   So while I don’t think it’s message is bad, I don’t think it’s one that  goes any deeper than a makeup commercial.  (How much do you want to bet that there will be a Clairol commercial that will say something like “release your inner roar.”)

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