I saw Brave this past weekend, and as we were walking out we walked past a showing of Katy Perry: Part of Me that was just starting and…well, it was obvious. I have made no secret of my absolute love of Katy Perry on this blog; also Brave was really short and I was totally prepared for more movie.
I got more than I bargained for. Katy Perry: Part of Me was a great time, which I expected, but it was also kind of really emotional? I walked otu of that theater feelign wrung out, and like I needed to go home and have some chocolate and think about my feelings. Admittedly, I had just started menstruating and also just seen and cried at Brave, which was itself all about girls and their mothers, and so maybe that had something to do with my major reaction to Katy, but…damn.
It is billed as a concert movie, duh, but what they don’t tell you is that it is also a fairly wrenching portait of a divorce, which happens in the middle of the concert film. It’s chronological, and its “about” her world tour last year – the California Dream tour. So about halfway through the movie there’s a little interlude about her visiting Russell, and how happy she is that her career is so great and her personal life is so great. And then…it’s hard for them to see each other, there’s a slightly strange interlude about whether she’s ready to have kids and maybe he wants to, or, something, and then we’re in Brazil, in front of the “largest crowd on the tour,” and Katy’s lying in her makeup chair with her haircap on and just bawling. It’s pretty wrenching, honestly, and it makes the movie – her decision to go on with the show that night, and the shot of her in her costume on the riser under the stage, still crying, until she puts on a smile and tells the tech guy to send her up.
Which is what I love about Katy Perry. You could call it her “professionalism,” or her realization that this is her job, but it’s sort of more than that. What I love about her is that she does realize this is her job, but it’s also her calling. She kept talking about what she did it all for, what she’d always wanted, her raison d’être, and it was always, just, “making people happy.” No brooding here, nothing about shocking the bourgeois or defining new frontiers or anything diva-y or even “uplifting” or “inspiring.” She just wants to make people happy, to entertain, to make something people laugh, so, like she says, she can look out at her concerts and see all these people smiling.
That is her job, and she’s good at it. There was a somewhat-overlong section of the movie about her various record company struggles, the people who wanted her to be someone she’s not, etc. etc., which is really just about how Katy Perry knew that she had a job to do, to make really fun pop songs that people like, and goddamnit why weren’t they just letting her do that already?
She’s very realistic about who she is and what she does. There was a sick kid in the movie who came to see her through Make A Wish, and when he said his favorite song was the album cut “Pearl” she said, “Oh whoa, you really are a fan.” She knows no one listens to her whole albums, that we all just love the songs we hear on the radio, and that’s fine with her. It’s her job.
We only really talk about her very Christian upbringing in reference to “I Kissed a Girl” and ooh religious girl gone bad (ugh), but I think it really interesting to think about. If she didn’t know who Michael Jackson was until she was 14, then her whole persona – the retro styles, the bangs, the lyrics about Mustangs and beaches and sun soaked rides, the cotton candy and the heart shaped sunglasses – was invented, by her, wholesale, when she discovered the world outside. Everything she does seems touched with nostalgia, but a sweet one, not the pain of missing something but the excitment of bringing it back, wholer and purer than it ever was. It’s a nostalgia for something she heard about that, maybe, she just missed out on, and I think that’s why it is so inviting.
Alternatively, everything you need to know about Katy Perry’s sound, aesthetic and life choices can be found in the combination of what her parents look like:
And the first pop song that really, really affected her:
In sum, if you were thinking of seeing the Katy Perry movie, you totally should. It was great to dance and sing along to, and some 12 year old girls in the row behind us were wearing blue wigs, it was adorable. I love Katy.