Welcome to hell! Just kidding — it's just Katy Perry's dystopian cotton-candy colored amusement park, Oblivia, which is filled with PVC-wearing twentysomethings, "wasted zombies," and unmistakably Black Mirroresque elements. It's a wild trip, but as much as it is filled with satisfying, if not oversaturated visuals, it is dragged down by the underwhelming lyrics and performance from Perry herself. I'd want to visit Oblivia, but not with her. I also can't help but wonder just how much this large-scale production cost to make, from the CGI rides to the intricate costumes to that fiery water stunt. Let's unpack it a little bit.
As we all know, Perry has never been one to produce a low-key music video (see: "Rise"), and the video for her latest single, "Chained To The Rhythm," is no exception. Released on February 21, the music video combines the purposefulness and weirdness of both her Grammys performance of the song and the lyrics video for the track. At the Grammys, she made a political statement with her white pantsuit (a nod to Hillary Clinton) and white picket fence (a reference to the American dream of yesteryear). Then, in the music video, Perry tapped into the bizarre niche fandom of "tiny meals," which is a rabbit hole you may or may not want to fall down.
And now, the actual music video, shot by Mathew Cullen, takes all that to the next level. The video starts with Perry entering a Tokyo-inspired theme park, called Oblivia, and taking in all the over-stimulation available at first glance — there are flashing lights, whirling machinery, hoards of visitors wearing neon, and Perry in an all white (again) get-up. The main message of the video is to highlight how this society (which like the popular and controversial series, Black Mirror, takes place in a slightly futuristic parallel universe) is addicted to instant satisfaction and constant amusement. At one point, we watch people literally go on a hamster wheel ride and run until they fall off. Metaphors, man. So deep.
Then, during a 3-D screening, while still wearing all PVC, Perry sees "the light." And who else could bring enlightenment other than Skip Marley, the grandson of Bob Marley, himself. He helps her fall out of her unfulfilling trance, and she starts to go against the crowds and stare around at the passive synchronicity of it all with total bewilderment. But for those not willing to watch the music video, which is a valid choice, all it takes is a glance at the lyrics to see the point Perry is desperate to get across: "Stumbling around like a wasted zombie, yeah / We think we're free (Aha) / Drink, this one's on me / We're all chained to the rhythm."
Basically, break away from the norm and stick it to the man. But make sure you wear strange articles of clothing while you do it.