Katy Perry has been sleeping for a while. At least, according to a recent profile in The New York Times titled, "Katy Perry Woke Up. She Wants to Tell You About It." During the extensive interview, she revealed that she's not only wide awake — just as her 2010 single proclaimed — but she's sick of having to prove it.
"[It's] this strange race to be the most woke," Perry explained. "They want you to stand for something, but once you do, and if you don’t do it perfectly, they’re ready to take you right down.” She added that dealing with fan criticism is "maddening."
Fame, of course, is a double-edge sword, and the singer has been subject to intense criticism in recent years. As the Times profile points out, her recent appearance on Saturday Night Live drew backlash from the LGBTQ community for appropriating gay culture. (She performed her single "Swish, Swish" with an array of drag queens.) In the past, the 32-year-old has ruffled feathers by appropriating both Japanese culture (2013, the American Music Awards) and hip-hop culture (2014, the "This Is How We Do" music video) and fetishizing Black bodies (2014, performing in London). When faced with such criticism, Perry has had a habit of leaping to the defense.
"I guess I'll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that's it," she told Rolling Stone in 2014 regarding her geisha-themed performance at the 2013 AMAs. "I know that's a quote that's gonna come to fuck me in the ass, but can't you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don't know."
Three years later, Katy Perry is still frustrated with being criticized. However, the new interview suggests that she is beginning to understand that cultural sensitivity is the result of daily, active awareness, and not a static state.
During her days-long live stream titled "Witness World Wide," the "Bon Appetit" singer explained just why she's been so prickly in the past regarding cultural appropriation.
"I listened and I heard and I didn't know," she told DeRay McKesson, the host of Pod Save The People, during the live stream, according to Digital Spy. "And I won't ever understand some of those things because of who I am. I will never understand, but I can educate myself and that's what I'm trying to do along the way."
In the same breath, she added that the viciousness of fan criticism is probably why she hadn't been listening in the first place.
"It's hard to hear those clap backs sometimes," she added. "Your ego just wants to turn from them."
Nevertheless, Perry is a work in progress, and because of her profile, that work is very public. She explained, "I know that sometimes it feels publicly like I’m dragging cement blocks, but like, the pyramids were made out of cement blocks — or not cement. But do you know what I’m trying to say? I’m gonna get there.”
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