Katy Perry-Anti-Gay or Anti-Male?

Los Angeles, CA–In his recent MSNBC commentary Katy Perry and the media”s ‘Kiss” of hypocrisy (7/22/08), Tony Sclafani examines the controversy over what he calls “two gay-unfriendly songs by newcomer Katy Perry: ‘Ur So Gay’ and ‘I Kissed a Girl’.”

While I have often condemned societal prejudice against gays and lesbians, in this case the anti-gay bigotry which gay advocates claim to see seems a lot more like anti-male sentiment to me.  Sclafani writes:

Well, it”s official. It”s cool to make fun of gay people again.

How do we know? Because the folks in Medialand told us as much by relentlessly cheerleading two gay-unfriendly songs by newcomer Katy Perry: “Ur So Gay’ and “I Kissed a Girl.’

The first derides an emo guy with a barrage of gay stereotypes that were cliché even in Boy George”s heyday. The second addresses same-sex kissing (and, by extension, bisexuality) by putting forth the judgment that such a smooch is “not what, good girls do… not how they should behave.’

Yet Sclafani seems to be of two minds about it a little. On one hand, he approvingly quotes comments from unhappy gays. On the other, he cites one of my blog posts on negative depictions of men in the media, and links the Katy Perry issue to “the popular trend of male bashing.”

The central issue in the article is Perry’s song ‘Ur So Gay’. In it, she sings:

I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf
While jacking off listening to Mozart
You bitch and moan about LA
Wishing you were in the rain reading Hemingway
You don”t eat meat
And drive electrical cars
You”re so indie rock it”s almost an art
You need SPF 45 just to stay alive

You”re so gay and you don”t even like boys
No you don”t even like
No you don”t even like
No you don”t even like boys

You”re so sad maybe you should buy a happy meal
You”re so skinny you should really Super Size the deal
Secretly you”re so amused
That nobody understands you
I”m so mean cause I cannot get you outta your head
I”m so angry cause you”d rather MySpace instead
I can”t believe I fell in love with someone that wears more makeup than…

You walk around like you”re oh so debonair
You pull em’ down and there”s really nothing there
I wish you would get a clue that its
not all about you

The video for the song can be seen here. Sclafani and the gay press are correct that the song contains gay stereotypes.  However, I think what the song really does is mock and shame the man for not being “man enough.” It’s quite angry, contemptuous, and vicious. 

I think if this song were really about a gay man, there would be a lot more controversy.  Because the song is about a straight man, its anti-male bigotry largely goes unnoticed.  It’s to Sclafani’s credit that he acknowledged it.

The other Katy Perry song which draws comment is ‘I Kissed a Girl.’ The video for it can be seen here or below. 

It’s basically a predictable song about a young woman wanting to sexually experiment with other young women. Also predictably, it is popular in large part because heterosexual men find it alluring when attractive women are sexual with each other.  Perry sings:

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don”t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don”t mean I”m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

There is nothing anti-gay or anti-lesbian about the song.

Sclafani’s full article can be seen here.


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