I kissed Katy Perry and I liked it. Okay, so it was only a dream , a dream inspired by that song that my daughter plays over and over and over, but it has made me, in waking life, somewhat protective of Ms Perry. And just for the record, I kissed her on the cheek because I'm old enough to be her mother.
On Seven's Sunday Night, Katy was interviewed by Marie Claire editor Jackie Frank and there's been a ruckus of debate about whether or not the international singing sensation was 'bullied'. It was a word thrown about by former international singing superstar, Darren Hayes, of Savage Garden, who complained in a tumblr blog, that mainstream Australian media had become famous for its bullying tactics while painting itself the victim.
On October 24th, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Christine Sams proved him somewhat right in her argument for media integrity vs celebrity transparency. Sams' argument that a celebrity 'owes' it to his or her fans and the voyeuristic public in general, to be open about any and all aspects of their lives at any given time during any interview they do, is flawed and just plain wrong.
Her inference that a celebrity should not have the right to have 'off-limit' subject matter during a face-to-face interview is cruel and dangerous. It completely objectifies the celebrity, a living, breathing, emotional human, reducing them to the entertainment persona that they have created through years of dedication and hard work. Celebrities wear masks. We expect them too. Bright, beautiful, perfect masks. Behind these are vulnerable artists.
I am a fan of Katy Perry. I have a ten year old daughter who adores her and a teenage son who wants nothing more than to...um...kiss Katy Perry. I've listened to her songs, sung along and enjoyed a glimpse behind the mask in her documentary, also being moved by her genuine distress at the dissolution of her marriage to Russel Brand.
Just because she chose to air her grief at that stage of her life does not mean that she must air it whenever a journalist wants to hear more about it. To ask her to repeatedly to drag herself over the broken glass of that former relationship is nasty and yes, 'bullying'. Only very recently, Perry opened up in an interview, that she had been suicidal after her marriage split. Suicidal! This week she asked for the interviewer to avoid those questions, possibly because she was having a bad day or feeling particularly vulnerable about that issue. Channel Seven decided to plough on through that mess with little regard for the person they were interviewing and little regard for the fact that they were dealing with a woman who had previously shared that the issue had left her feeling like ending her life.
Yes, Christine Sams, Katy Perry did air her tears and anguish at her marital breakdown, in public. That was how she chose to deal with that then. You belong to an Australian media that rightfully champions a woman's right to say yes I consented once but that doesn't mean I always consent. Just because I did something once, doesn't mean I always want to do it.
Jackie Frank, Katy Perry did not consent to your line of questioning. If you disregard consent, you are a bully at best. She broke up with him two and half years ago. Move on. She has.
There is a more sinister undercurrent to this pushy form of journalism that I think Darren Hayes alludes to. Bullying is not something that we see across the board. I'm sure if it was our Nicole, or our Kylie, asking for a similar courtesy, they would have been afforded it. Are the Australian media softer on home grown talent? I wonder.
I also wonder whether Jackie French would have disregarded Russel Brand's request for privacy on that same issue. Russel, of late, has become famous for his scathing and brilliant ability to cut through journalistic crap and he gives as good as he gets and he always wins. Could it be that Katy was an 'easier' target?
Christine Sams points out in her article that Katy and other celebrities of her ilk have made millions of dollars from the public and have put themselves in the spotlight. But Katy Perry is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer. We have put her on a pedestal for being one of the best in her profession and it was not handed to her on a plate with a proviso that she must live in a transparent bubble that we can poke and prod and dissect at will. Christine seems to have fallen for the common belief of this celebrity -obsessed culture and that is that false belief that ' we made you and we own you.'
Katy offers music and theatre. I buy it. Transaction complete. It's a fair deal. I deserve nothing more from her. If the Australian media wants her head on a plate, then, like Darren Hayes before me, I would like to apologise. Your Australian fans are better than this. Sorry, Katy.
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