Katy Perry's new "California Gurls" video is racy, silly, risqué, titillating, and terribly, deeply naughty. But--for the record--it's not blasphemous.
Last week, Perry went onto her Twitter account with a statement that was widely assumed as taking aim at Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" video. "Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke," Perry tweeted, presumably in response to Gaga's irreverent religious iconography. Some music fans wondered if Perry was in any place to throw stones, given that her career was founded on its own minor provocations.
If you never thought of gingerbread men and Gummi Bears as prurient before, you may now. Snoop Dogg is playing the game in this scenario, which straight off gives you the idea that it will not be as G-rated as the Hasbro version. Perry climbs a sort of candy beanstalk and lounges on a heavenly cotton-candy cloud, nearly naked, but for her silver-blue wig and some puffs of whipped cream. Back at ground level, she dispenses dessert toppings from her bikini. You really will wish they all could be California girls, especially if you're diabetic.
Once again, Perry is making good on her talent for making overt sexuality seem strangely wholesome, this time in a Bettie Page-in-a-bakeoff-with-Willy Wonka way. Maybe this is what Madonna was trying to go for with her album Hard Candy, in which she, too, tried to make sexuality sound sugary, if not positively confectionary. But it took Katy Perry to really follow the trail of cookie crumbs that connects See's and the strip joint.
"California Gurls" might be one of the brightest, shinest videos ever made, but is it clean, per se? Among the cable channels it premiered on, besides MTV and VH1, was Teen Nick. If this is what they're showing on Teen Nick, we blush to imagine what they're airing on Adult Nick.
Risqué imagery aside, under Matthew Cullen's direction, the colorful video really does look good enough to eat. Which means, of course, that this Hansel-and-Gretel fantasia looks nothing like California. At least the relative paucity of beach scenes will keep anyone from confusing Perry's version with the Beach Boys' "California Girls." Well, that and the cupcake bras.
Perry has backed off from her apparent swipe at Lady Gaga, claiming that her anti-blasphemy comment was "more of a non-specific, general thing." The singer, who started out in Christian music, acknowledged that an aversion to blasphemy is "deeply rooted inside of me and hard to get away from. But everybody knows I am a massive Lady Gaga fan." Still unanswered: whether the Lord loves Perry's effect on a popsicle any more than he approves of Gaga's handling of rosary beads.
Which video whets your pop appetite more: Perry's sticky-sweet "California Gurls", or Gaga's dark and tart "Alejandro"? Or would you rather send both desserts back to the chef?