Friday, February 28, 2014

Update and Thoughts on #standwithkatyperry

A few days ago, I noted (and took a position on) the drummed-up controversy over Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" video. Brief recap:

In the video, Perry (portraying an Egyptian queen/goddess character) disintegrates a guy wearing a bunch of bling. One of the pieces of bling is a pendant in Arabic script for "Allah." An Internet petition circulated, eventually reaching 50,000 signatures, for a "ban" on the video for "blasphemy."

Well, the video got edited (on YouTube, at least). That particular piece of bling got airbrushed out.

By whom? Good question.

The Jerusalem Post headline (the story seems to have disappeared -- I get a 404 at the URL I bookmarked for it) read "YouTube quietly removes Allah symbol from Katy Perry video."

Most versions of the story say something different. Representative headline and link:  "Katy Perry removes Islamic symbol from 'Dark Horse' video."

And of course batshit-insane lying authoritarian Islamophobe Pamela Geller immediately went into whine mode: "Coward Katy Perry Punks Out: Censors her Video, Submits to Savage Demands."

The last two versions are exceedingly unlikely.

I suppose it's possible that YouTube did the airbrushing -- after all, its owner company, Google, had been told by a court only the day before that copyright is magically transferable and irrelevant and that the foundation of US intellectual property law is making absolutely sure that Muslims are never, ever, ever offended.

It's even more likely that Vevo, the company that distributes the video, made the alteration (given that they're the ones who control the uploading and availability of the video).

Perry's label, Capitol Records, may have weighed in with one or both of the aforementioned parties.

Was Perry even consulted before the change was made? Maybe, maybe not. I've yet to find (and I've looked for) any statement on the matter from Perry, from Perry's management, from Perry's record label, or from anyone else claiming to speak for Perry.

Perry is a singer. While it's true that she apparently had some creative input on the video, it's highly unlikely that she picked out the "Allah" pendant, or that whoever did pick it out had any intentions of making a point or "blaspheming" or anything else.

What probably happened is that the director (Matthew Cullen) told the video's costume/wardrobe chief  "I need a guy with this, that, the other, and a bunch of bling. Oh, and see if you can find bling that looks Egyptian or Arab, so that it fits in with the video's visual theme."

And the controversy probably caught everyone involved in the video completely by surprise.

Now: Do I wish that everyone up and down the line on this thing, from Perry to Cullen to Vevo to Capitol to YouTube, had told the whiners to go pound sand? Yes, I do.

BUT! It's not obvious who gave in here, or why ... and it is obvious that it was their decision to make. Just as nobody has an obligation not to offend Muslims, nobody has an obligation to continue to offend Muslims if they don't want to, especially since that was almost certainly not something they intended to do in the first place.

And as a side note, if that piece of bling had been a Star of David, how much do you want to bet that Geller would have been rattling the rafters with demands that YouTube remove a video that approvingly portrayed evil Egyptians murdering Jews?

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