Radical feminist Naomi Wolf is calling for a boycott of pop superstar Katy Perry in the wake of the latter’s latest music video, in which she transforms herself a là “G.I. Jane” into a U.S. Marine.
In the storyline of the video for her power-pop single “Part of Me,” Perry is seen ditching an unfaithful boyfriend, then being inspired to enlist by a bumper sticker reading, “All women are created equal. Then some become Marines.” This is just the sort of female empowerment Perry’s emotionally wounded character needs. We follow her through hellish basic training: scaling rope ladders, hiking in full gear, jogging with a cadet on her shoulders, crawling through barbed wire in rainy darkness, linking arms with fellow cadets on the beach as the waves roll over them, and finally storming a beach. The video closes with her dancing and singing triumphantly in camouflaged fatigues under a starry, billowing canopy that seems to suggest a waving Stars-and-Stripes:
Throw your sticks and stones
Throw your bombs and your blows
But you're not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me, no
“This is one of the most aggressive videos I have ever done,” Perry said. “It is an affirmation of strength, so I wanted to go the strongest route I could.” And “the strongest route” means Marine boot camp. One would think that a prominent feminist like Wolf would appreciate a woman promoting the strongest possible path to female strength and paying particular tribute to the tough, courageous women of our Armed Forces.
But feminists of the left aren’t about female empowerment. If they were, they would devote more time and passion denouncing, say, Islam’s misogyny, female genital mutilation, and honor killings; instead, they are more focused on the politics of personal destruction of female conservative politicians like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann, who more successfully embody the have-it-all goal of feminism than Wolf and her ilk (Wolf penned a shocking defense of the Islamic veil and Muslim sexuality, and attacked Palin, rather creatively, as “the FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal”).
No, progressive feminists are focused on the same radical goals as other progressives: the disintegration of the family, the dismantling of America’s military strength, and the destruction of capitalism (last year Wolf was arrested – unlawfully, she claims – in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement). Wolf is the author of, among other books, The Beauty Myth, which posits that standards of beauty are false social constructs that the “patriarchy” uses to keep women under its thumb, and The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, which likens the post-9/11 Bush administration to the fascism of Nazi Germany.
Thus, Wolf addressed the followers on her Facebook page about Perry’s “propaganda” and “glorification of violence”:
Have you all seen the Katy Perry Marines video? It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines...I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it...it is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked -- if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am . [ellipses in original]
Of course, the video isn’t a glorification of violence; it’s first and foremost a metaphor about women empowering themselves, but it’s also an unqualified, respectful salute to our servicemen and –women. There is a difference between glamorizing war and honoring our nation’s defenders and the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf, in defense of the freedoms that we and Naomi Wolf enjoy.
“Naomi Wolf is a living, breathing contradiction,” said Hollywood publicist Angie Meyer, offering a powerful rejection of the feminist and unusual – for Hollywood – high praise for our military:
Her anti-military sentiments against the men and women fighting to defend the freedoms she exercises regularly, speech and protest, is absurd and disturbingly disgraceful. What an enormous slap in the face for our servicemen and women. Naomi Wolf's blatant disrespect for the United States Military, and her political irreverence should be completely disregarded, and her rants and writings, boycotted.
Another PR professional – Glenn Selig, founder of The Publicity Agency – suspects that Wolf's boycott call will backfire:
It's hard to believe that Naomi Wolf's view of the video will resonate with the public at large because most people will view her comments as completely absurd and a ridiculous attempt to make a big deal out of nothing.
But it isn’t “nothing” to Naomi Wolf. Katy Perry is the new queen of the music industry hill. She has tied Michael Jackson’s all-time record for most number one songs from a single album. She is the only artist to spend over 52 consecutive weeks in the Billboard magazine top ten. She’s been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and named MTV’s “Artist of the Year” in 2011. She has sold nearly forty million digital tracks in the U.S. and more than eleven million albums worldwide. Virtually everything Perry wears, says, does and tweets exerts an influence on her many millions of fans, and impacts pop culture accordingly. Wolf realizes this and understands the influence Perry’s music video could have in terms of creating a positive image of our military among the nation’s youth. And that is an image that women like Wolf and her Code Pink admirers cannot afford to let stand, lest America’s unbridled, imperialistic warmongering continue.
I’ve written about Perry before, when she caught hell from Israel-haters in the Twitterverse for tweeting an innocuous message of prayer support to an Israeli fan. In response to that controversy, she backed down a bit and tried to play it neutral as the Switzerland of pop stars. Hopefully she won’t backpedal on her pro-Marine stance now.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 4/6/12)