Thoughts on Katy Perry's demonic pizza party
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? What about a greasy paper plate?
Image via Twitter
Say what you like about Katy Perry, but no one can claim she hasn’t embraced her role as the face of food delivery service Just Eat with open arms. Along with dropping “(Did Somebody Say) Just Eat” — a surreal bop based on the company’s signature jingle — the popstar ramped up her commitment to feeding the masses this weekend, dropping by a Las Vegas nightclub to throw pizza into (or simply towards) the mouths of hungry fans.
In a viral video that’s been circulating on social media, the “Teenage Dream” singer can be seen standing behind the venue’s DJ decks, dressed head-to-toe in several shades of pink, and — with reckless abandon, over a thrumming bass beat — flinging slices of pizza into the crowd before her.
The artist, who is currently in the middle of a Las Vegas residency, initially attempts to jettison the food projectile on a paper plate, but this method of pizza-flinging proves unsuccessful as the slice falls just short of the (presumably starving) crowd. Unperturbed, with a renewed, gleeful look in her eyes, she forgoes the formalities of a plate. Her second attempt frisbees the slice into the crowd: it skims over a few pairs of hands before landing, where it was likely pulled apart by hungry clubbers like a flock of warring pigeons or famished subway rats.
The notion of a pop icon like Katy Perry throwing food at your face may seem like an absurdist fever dream, a manifestation of stan Twitter’s wildest dreams. After all, who wouldn’t want to be slapped around the face by a piece of pizza wielded by Katy Perry? It makes the regular demands stans make of popstars — to “run me over” or “spit on my face” — seem almost tame, lacking in any sort of imagination or real fervour.
But as the video loops, that fantasy begins to twist. Katy’s face — which initially seemed enraptured by the act of feeding her fans — takes on a vacant, perhaps possessed quality as she selects another slice of pizza and bops along to the music. Suddenly, the video ends up looking less like a meme-worthy moment of fun pop culture insanity and instead seems like a horrifying vision of our future, a representation of the stark and accelerating wealth gap and economic inequality. Like a mutated mirror of Caravaggio’s “Madonna of the Rosary”, Perry takes the place of St Dominic, her hand outstretched above a group of poverty-stricken devotees.
In a not too distant future, celebrities and the megarich may well make more of a habit of this method of distributing junk food to the general public. The ever-widening wage gap isn’t closing anytime soon. Kim Kardashian saying that no one wants to work anymore gives me a similar feeling of dissonance. So does Molly Mae. It’s Jeff Bezos launching himself into space while his Amazon warehouse employees urinate in bottles, afraid they’ll lose their jobs if they’re caught taking a break. It’s Taylor Swift, or Kylie Jenner, or Drake taking a 15-minute flight on their private jet while the rest of us agonise over how to reduce our carbon footprints. It’s energy companies reporting record profits while people struggle to buy food because of their steeply increasing bills. It’s wage stagnation. It’s landlordism.
I was struck by how this video of Katy Perry tossing pizza into the gaping maws of her fans was also a manifestation of my own complicity. Not only would I relish the opportunity for Katy Perry to wallop me with a slice of pepperoni pizza, but I probably would’ve paid for the privilege. Being a fan is to accept the scraps, while those feeding us profit from our devotion, be that through concert tickets, merch or whatever record sales they make. Like masochists, we continue to support; we watch The Kardashians, we stream Drake’s music, we order things on Amazon and we buy copies of Molly Mae’s book from Tesco. If anything, we’re trapped in a cycle, desperate for the hit of pleasure the metaphorical pizza will provide. We are, to quote Katy herself, chained to the rhythm.
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic. It is, after all, just a video of Katy Perry throwing pizza at people in a nightclub. It’s a meme. It means nothing, is representative of nothing. It’s not that deep. It just is. To quote the artist once more, “Bon appétit, baby.”