Katy Perry’s ‘Birthday’ music video has debuted online featuring the pop music superstar playing five different characters; the “world’s worst birthday party entertainers.” An imaginative approach to the often shopworn art form, but not without some controversy.
Katy Perry strikes again, with an attention-getting music video that’s heavy on costuming — extremely so — and sparking discussion along the way about stereotypes and cultural appropriation again.
She puts on five different elaborate costumes to play five different characters, all of whom are completely unlike herself. If there were such a thing as a paparazzi-proof costume shop, we could reasonably assume that Katy Perry went on a shopping spree and picked up five such costumes. But of course it’s not just costuming, it’s transformational makeup and wigs as well, such as we see on the big screen.
So who are these characters? Collectively dubbed the World’s Worst Birthday Entertainers, they are Goldie “The Dancer,” Yosef Shulem “The MC,” Kriss “The Clown,” Ace “The Animal Trainer,” and Princess Mandee. And, as introduced in the beginning, all five go to work at birthday parties where the unsuspecting guests have no idea who their entertainer really is.
But the focus has gone, with reason, to Yosef Shulem who with gesture and an exaggerated Yiddish-infused New York accent evokes Jewish stereotypes. As such, he stands out. And yes, we’re left thinking, how did she not know this would be offensive? Of all those involved in the elaborate music video was there not a single person with a shred of cultural sensitivity?
Ironically, the music video would have succeeded quite well without such a caricature. It runs eight minutes and is, at times quite entertaining, although definitely not for the children, as it has some strong language, and in many ways these entertainers live up to “world’s worst” designation with some entertaining (for adults) mannerisms and sensibilities.
As for why and how it came about, Katy Perry offered her take on it. During a recent appearance on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ she previewed a trailer for the music video and told the eponymous host, “I was sick of making gorgeous music videos where I’m like sexual.”
But not sick of generating some controversy even without using sex. You can see Katy Perry’s ‘Birthday’ music video in its entirety below.