Dear Ms. Perry:

How do I say this nicely?
You’re boring me.

Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" video

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” video from Katy Perry website

I know, I know.
We live in a celebrity culture.
Controversy sells.
No such thing as bad publicity, and all that.

So now we’re supposed to be all bent out of shape because your “Dark Horse” video features a guy getting burned.   Among other jewelry, the guy is wearing a pendant bearing the name of God in Arabic “Allah.”

OOOOOOH, so provocative!  [Read that in sarcasm font.]

While we are at it, since when do clichés of ancient Egyptians look like the lovechild of Pharaonic times with the Smurfs?  Or when did pre-Islamic Egyptians wear “Allah” necklaces…in Arabic?   But never mind…. I suppose it would be too much to expect coherence here.   I forgot, this is all pseudo-Orientalist kitsch.

Yes, somebody made a petition to get the video off of Youtube, and some 50,000 Muslims signed it.

McKayla "Not Impressed"

McKayla “Not Impressed” from wikipedia

I know we are supposed to be outraged, and act all “crazy Muslim” about it.


I’m not impressed.   Not even impressed enough to sign the petition.

Forgive us for caring about other things, like 100,000 human beings being slaughtered in Syria.
Forgive us for caring about Palestinians running out of food in refugee camps.
Forgive us for caring about murder of black men in this country because they are listening to music, or walking around with a hoodie
Forgive us for caring about children and grandmothers being blown up by American drones.
Forgive us for caring about 49 million Americans now living below the poverty line.
Forgive us for caring about one out of every five people on this planet living on a dollar a day.

 So yeah, you’re boring me.
These pseudo-controversies bore me, and are merely a distraction from the real task that confronts all of us.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry Katy Perry

And while I am at it, I thought you were mildly entertaining in the “I kissed a girl” thing (even with its faux-Lesbian undertone), kind of cool in “E.T.” (minus the Kanye nonsense of “I’mma disrobe you then I’mma probe you” misogynist shit).  The rest of your music has been, well, kinda mediocre (even if some of your politics are kinda cool).

So you go on trying to raise controversy and sell records.
The rest of us have serious work to do, to bring some healing into this wounded little planet.

Nothing to see here people.
Move on.








    • Omid Safi

      And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
      Wafa Sultan is a noted advocate of Islamophobia, who supports nuking Muslims. Enough said.
      next question.

      • Hey Omid,

        Does this article on, a US tax-exempt organistaion, offend you? It says all non-muslims are kaafirs who will go to hell. I wonder if the author thinks we are kaafir why he accepts our tax-exempt status? How about the countless videos insulting non-muslims on youtube? How about a petition for those?

          • Maddeha, maybe Kafir is not a swar word but that fact that you think that a Kafir will go to hell and does not deserve respect is pretty insulting no? Actually, it is violent and sick and a lot more offensive then a pendant.

            By the way if heaven is full of jerks who send people to hll just for being Kafirs, I would rather go to hell.

          • How by bending over backwards to please all your crazy requests? besides this article clearly does not say muslims ahve to respect kafir.

            Just the fact that you have a special name for non-believers shows how obsessed you are with having everyone behave as you wish. If you don’t like the West, leave. We don’t go to Saudi and wear bikinis.

          • Lmao special name for non believers? You mean how we call non believers athiest? Because its the exact same thing.

  1. Hm, I think you’re overlooking the fact that media imagery is really powerful and serious. I believe the petitions don’t go far enough because they don’t address the racism, Orientalism, and gross cultural appropriation in the video. There is tons of literature and work out there that shows how things like cultural appropriation are extremely serious and harmful to communities of color. Indigenous women activists and scholars, for example, have written about the connections between cultural appropriation and sexual violence.

    I completely agree with you that we need to care about those other issues and struggles you mentioned (Syria, drones, anti-black racism/violence, poverty, etc.) However, I would disagree with you by adding that racist, Orientalist imagery also plays a role in propagating racism and violence against people of color. This goes beyond thinking that this video is only offensive to Muslims due to the way they used the “Allah” necklace. It’s about recognizing how this long history of cultural appropriation reduces religiously and/or culturally significant symbols, artifacts, clothing, practices, etc. into the “meaningless” and treats these things as “exotic” and profitable. It’s about the exoticism of black bodies, the subordination of people of color, and the use of their bodies to sell. As one piece on cultural appropriation writes, “cultural appropriation is a by-product of imperialism, capitalism, oppression, and assimilation… Imperialism functions by subordinating groups of people and territories and extracting everything of value from the colonized people and territories. In the case of cultural appropriation, culture is treated as a ‘natural resource’ to extract from People of Color.”

    This same logic is used to steal land and resources from people of color. It’s this theft that is being propagated in the images of this video. It’s this constant theft that we need to be outraged by rather than simply make it a “Muslim only” issue based on the use of the “Allah” necklace.

    So, while I disagree with the framing of the petition, I don’t agree that we should dismiss this as a “pseudo-controversy.” I think we need to connect it with the other issues and struggles you mentioned. There is a lot of literature and work out by people who have been critiquing media representations, particularly those of people of color, and the research has shown that things like cultural appropriation and negative media depictions *do* have a significant impact in the real world.

  2. Wait, how was she trying to cause controversy again?
    Oh, that’s right. I forgot she was fluent in Arabic and that she carefully plotted that half second of her video where some dude turned to ash while wearing a neckless that said “Allah” in Arabic. Silly me.

    I’m going to go on a limb here and suggest that she had no idea what that neckless said and that she had no idea anyone would be so outraged by the half-second in which it half appeared in her video. If she really wanted to cause controversy, she would have made it a tad more obvious and maybe even had the camera focus on the neckless for a full second or something. It might have even been in the full frame of the shot.

    Maybe instead of blaming Perry for being a entertainer, you could perhaps blame those who are issuing death threats against her for this “controversy” which she almost certainly didn’t intend. Think about it.

        • FYI there is no such thing as freedom of speech.. how abt i supporting hitler or disrespecting the holocaust.. im sire u know what happens after that.. i think human beings shuld have enough sense so as not to offend others and dere beliefs using the guise of this freedom of speech thing

          • It was a music video. She had no idea. And when you crazies complained she removed it. What more do you want?

          • Everyone should invite the concept of freedom of speach but rational person should never invite the concept of freedom to insult. Would that lead to good relations among religions? Or would that increase the tension that already exists.

    • “she had no idea what that necklace said…” You have got to be kidding. What kind of artist has NO IDEA about what their music/noise & their videos depict & subsequently signify? She is worse of an artist than she already is if she does not know what her videos demonstrate, especially when they are videos depicting other religions. Why use the necklace used in the video as opposed to a cross, hindu sculpture, or other religious artifact? The ankh was very popular in Egypt after all.

  3. Oh and girls can kiss girls here where we have human rights. And they can do it for attention too and that’s ok. In open societies people can live without being judged. And homosexuals are not stoned to death and women are not forced to abide to ridiculous modesty rules.

      • I noticed you don’t publish most comments you don’t agree with. Too offensive Omid? Pretty soon you will censor speaking to the degree that all non-muslims will have to be mute.

      • Omid, where is my comment regarding faux-lesbianism? Why did you censor it? As a Muslim woman, I still have a right to disagree with you and Mast’s opinions.

      • Actually, Omid I did read the link and I was referring to the faux-lesbianism. Women’s rights mean we can do what we like with our bodies including used in ways you deem as faux-lesbiansim ( which in her eyes was probably just fun).
        And Mast, I do not agree with Robert Spencer as I am Muslim too but I am sick of my community taking offence with everything and constantly telling me to be modest. I’d rather be tolerant and compassionate.

        • You are mostly missing the point people. She and many artist are called FREE MASONS, ILLUMINATIES etc. There are symbols, subliminal messages in everything they do. Through music, movies, cartoons, concerts you name it. Look it up on YouTube. She knows exactly what she’s doing…

      • When whistleblowers get locked up in jail our entire societies protest and they don’t go and blame other cultures. We have lots of problems but we own up to them. When Muslim women like Malala or Mona Eltahawy stand up for their ills in their own societies they are rejected and criticised by their own societies. Also, we dont start world wide pétitions against your imams who keep calling for the death of infidels.

          • We are the first to be disgusted and horrified by our nuke programs. We hold petitions, protests and write continuous articles asking our government to stop. Our soldiers come back depressed and damaged.
            And the imams spouting hate are safe in the UK and the US benefit from social aid like the likes of Anjam Choudary.

    • It says to stone homosexuals in the bible too among other things. If you want to nit pick and act like thats what a whole religion is all about do it fairly.

      • Yea but we don’t do it. At worse we don’t let them get married and we are fighting to change that too. But keep whinning Luigi. Dont apprecite the Christian countries who have welcomed you and see how nice it is when they kick you out. More and more we are fed up. Denmark is the 5th country to ban halal meat. France the burka and states in the US are banning sharia law while Canada is getting rid of hijab. Then you can go live in all the hell hole Islamic countries where only money matters and everyone else is treated like dogs. Just look at all the wonderful things Brunei is doing. You dont get it do you? WE ARE FED UP OF YOUR OPPRESSION.

    • There you go back to how we Muslims dress. Im single and dress modestly and wear a scarf when i can (being that ppl who think like u.often insult me in public) for my choice of wardrobe. No person is telling me how to dress. Your attitude is no better than the countries you complain about.

      • Sarah, I did not say I support the burka ban. Most westerners don’t. If you remember correctly the burka was allowed for a very long time. But people got so fed up of the constant oppression from the religious that they are looking for ways to stop it and take an extreme measures.
        I am sorry people insult you but people insult me all the time on the Streets too. That’s just life. By the way, my friends who are girls are always harassed by hijabi ladies who tell them to dress more modestly so it goes both ways. But bottom line is when you walk around freking out about innoccuous videos and calling every small thing islamophobia, the west will get fed up because it was built on free speech.
        But if Islam is so great why is it that EVERY single one of your Islamic countries have so many human rights abuses, especially towards those without power?

  4. Brilliantly put, thank you. But…. is it bad of me that I didn’t actually realise that Katy Perry *sang*. I just assumed she was one of those celebs who is famous for being a celeb, and dating other celebs. Hence, I guess, the need to generate pseudo-controversies…

  5. This may come as a shocker Professor Safi, but I hope you realize that while many of the terrible things you mentioned in your article (the current events in Syria for example) have nothing to do with Katy Perry. She is a music entertainer, not a human rights protestor or a foreign affairs ambassador. Just because the song doesn’t have a #HelpSyria or #FightRacism plastered over it shouldn’t completely discredit it for what it is. A song. It is just a song with a music video that is an anachronism of ancient Egypt, 1980’s color design, and Takashi Murakami.

    Is the song great? Nah, not my taste, but to throw in a bunch of logical fallacies throughout your article to soap box an opinion that boils down to how you just don’t like Katy Perry? I don’t get it.

    In closure, the controversy regarding the necklace is pointless. There should be no controversy. Katy Perry is not releasing this music video in a theocracy. As a Catholic, am I offended by the sculpture “Piss Christ” where a Cruficix is submerged in a vat of human urine? Yeah. I’m “pissed” off. But as an -American- I realize that it is the artist’s right to do what they want so long as it doesn’t bring harm to anyone. If Jesus has an issue with it, he’ll take it up with ’em later. So should having a lightning ray comically disintigrate a blinged out necklace that says the word “Allah” offend people? They are entitled to be offended and voice that opinion yes! But should it be so controversial and offensive to petition to have it -removed-?

    Yes. If you are an Idolater.

    You know who else got offended? Jackasses who painted fabric over Rennaissance nude paintings because they were obscene. Stop censoring art when you know nothing about it.

    IM OUT!

  6. Well I signed the petition and am happy I did. It was a gratuitous and disgusting misuse of Allah’s Most Beautiful Name, and I’m glad it’s off of that filthy video (which I watched, muted, to see the actual pendant). And maybe I’m a genius, but I’m able to simultaneously care about other issues going on in the world.

    • You calling a fun and cute video filthy is a disgusting misuse of the beautiful freedom of speech god gave us to create fun things such as music and dance instead of ridiculous things such as offense and oppression of anything that does not agree with your retarded ideologies.

  7. Ovid,

    She is commenting on Islam – it is her right.
    You comment on her comment – as is your right, thanks to freedom.

    But….The Clerics of Iran own everyone in that country
    (even non Muslims) under the law of “Valient Alfuqir.”

    At least freedom reigns here and you allowed to have your opinion.
    Unlike the theocracy which oppresses all opinion.

    If your opinion is to be free, you need to know who to thank.
    Those who silence? Or those who allow it?

    Know the enemy. It is religion itself.

  8. I agree that the overwhelming likelihood is that Katy Perry had no idea that the guy was wearing a pendant that said Allah, and that she was not attempting to “raise controversy.” If eyes (rather than heads) are to be rolled over this, I’m not sure why they ought to be directed at her, rather than the people who decided that that 2 second clip was the worst thing about that video.
    In any case, I am quite sympathetic towards artists, even “mediocre” and occasionally problematic ones like Katy. Yes, we in academics and elsewhere are doing “serious” work on real issues, and it’s vital that we do so. But because of Katy Perry, millions of people have felt happiness, and relief from their troubles. Thousands have filled stadiums and cheered for her. Is she perfect? No. Is her music something that will survive this generation? Probably not. But she has given more people direct happiness then I or Professor Safi or probably anyone else on this site. That has to count for something. At the very least, it should earn a slightly less dismissive tone from Important People Doing Serious Work.

  9. It bothered you enough to write an article about how it didn’t bother you. “Nothing to see here, people. Move on”. If there is nothing to see “here” in your eyes why even write an article about it in the first place? I can’t even believe there is a petition to ban this video. American liberals want to take rights from the Christians but defends Muslims rights so persistently, even thought Islam is far more radical and conservative than any Christian faith. Nothing like another professor like your in the educational system. Can you be anymore whiny and pathetic in your views on this video and faux-lesbianism?

  10. Omid, the problem is that while you are focusing on good things behind the scenes, Katy Perry is spreading this ridiculousness and reaching hundreds of millions of people; that is the problem. Corrupting the mind of youth is a dangerous ability because that youth with grow into adulthood and the images that ms Perry spreads will never quite leave them even if they are better educated in the future.

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