Friday, September 27, 2013

Roar! Roar! Roar! Roar at the Devil! - Roar by Katy Perry

I Will Survive. Respect. I Am Woman. He Hit Me and it Felt Like a Kiss. Songs about female empowerment will always be with us. Whether it's listening to these songs while cleaning a man's clothes and dishes, humming along to them while driving the kids to a soccer game because her husband is golfing, or belting them out at a bachelorette party before getting rid of her shoes and becoming pregnant, women just love these types of songs.

Katy Perry has decided to join the list of enduring lady-classics with her song, "Roar".

Ok, let's just get this out of the way to start with: This isn't really a music video, it's a camera phone commercial. Remember camera phones? They were the things we used before everyone got smart phones but after everyone started using cell phones. So if a good music video is an ad for the band/song, what does that mean for this video? I'm not going to worry about it too much and just pretend this is a regular video.

The metaphor in this video is that female empowerment is like becoming a tiger. In the chorus she claims to have "the eye of the tiger" (Hey, isn't that from another song? Wait, isn't there another song about being a woman and roaring?) and that she will roar "louder than a lion". Remember that I don't like it when a music video matches the lyrics too literally? Well, this video is definitely too much for me.

Let's take a look at the plot.

We start with a title card. As you know, I love this! Now we know the name of the song! Strangely enough, I don't think we can clearly see the name of the camera phone in the video.

The action starts with Perry and some duder having crashed a plane.

The duder decides to document the event using his camera phone.

He purses his lips in an exceptionally duderly fashion and Perry is very annoyed. He's just pushing her around while posing for camera-phone-powered selfies! What a duder! To the max!

Luckily, he is promptly eaten by a tiger.

After the duder is eaten, the music stops. I don't believe this happens in the non-music-video version of this song. Also, throughout the video there are added animal noises. I really don't think it is necessary to do this. If your plot requires you to stop your song or change it, change the plot! The visuals are supposed to accompany the song, not the other way around. Just leave the audio of the song alone and construct a video to match that.

Perry, not yet fully self-actualized, is frightened out in the jungle, duderless.

In the light of day, though, she is no longer terrified by the animals who naturally inhabit the jungle and have every right to attack and eat any interlopers. She starts to befriend them. First she breaks apart her shoe to befriend a monkey.

Breaking the heel off your high heel is a standard trope in theses situations. I'm fairly certain that Romancing the Stone has a scene where this happens and this zombie episode of a popular Canadian TV series is entirely about rejecting high heels. This is perfect for a song about female empowerment because high heels represent the yoke of patriarchy put upon women that prevents them from living independent lives. Perry uses her high heel to make a spear?!? I'm going to forget about that part.

She also brushes the teeth of an alligator.

Having thus befriended the animals, she coaxes an elephant into giving her a shower.

Although she is strategically standing behind a leaf, this gives the audience an opportunity to imagine her naked.

Having conquered nature, she needs to change her appearance. She is a powerful hunter who holds dominion over the beasts of the jungle and fears nothing. She emerges from a symbolic cave (the cave represents a cavern) like this:

Where did she get the leopard or cheetah skin? Did she kill one off screen? Did she find a rotting corpse inside the cave/cavern? Maybe that isn't clothing and her body has changed and now she is a cheetah-boobed Eve covering her nakedness with a leaf.

Her transformation complete, she is now ready to face the tiger, because she is the tiger!

Since this blog is supposed to be about music videos I don't want to spend too much time talking about the music by itself, but allow me to go off on a bit of a tangent. This scene depicts the tiger growling and Perry roaring right back so loud that the tiger is overcome. The way the music is done, though, her roar doesn't really seem that loud. The problem is that so much of the song is already at the loudness limit that they can't give this section any power. As a comparison, listen to this ancient recording. Seriously, take a couple minutes to listen to this. It's not fair to any singer to compare them to Chaliapin since he is possibly the greatest singer of the 20th century, but when he holds out the one long note and it keeps getting louder and louder it has such power! The first time I heard it I felt like my head was going to explode. And how is he able to get so loud? By starting quietly! The production on this song leaves no room for the ROAR! and that is a bit of a disappointment.

Back on topic, the tiger is totally cowed and is given a punny name.

Perry celebrates by taking pictures with her camera phone.

See how integrated the camera phone ads are into the video? This is exactly what I'd do after defeating a tiger!

And look at that resolution!

But it was all a dream...

Fake out! It was totally real.

So what does this music video say about women and the power they can have? I think it says that women are like big cats. And I like my women like I like my cats: very hairy and weighing about 10 pounds.


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