Last weekend, as part of my (gasp) 22nd birthday celebrations, I toddled off to see Katy Perry at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena. I can’t say that poppy de pop is the type of music I usually listen to, but I do like Ms Perry’s colourful outfits and chirpy singing, and our shared love of nail polish.
When KP arrived on the scene, I wasn’t her most avid fan. Something about those ‘Kissed a Girl’ lyrics jarred with me; perhaps the – “it’s not what good girls do” part, or maybe “I hope my boyfriend won’t mind it” – how many poor little lesbians have been led on a merry dance by an experimental, taken, lady?
The point of this article, however, is not Katy’s lyrics really, or her wonderful and many outfits, but the show itself, and what it may herald. The arena was full, lots of girls in their teens and twenties, some thirties and above, quite a few camp gents, and, quite a lot of young girls. Given some of the content of Katy Perry’s songs, this surprised me a little. She sings about a ménage a trois, losing virginity, and – in case I didn’t mention – kissing girls.
Within the show, Katy of course flirted with her audience. We were beautiful; we were fireworks. She bandied around non-gender specific compliments like they were free sweeties (we got some of those too). And when it came to bestowing affections upon specific audience members, this was not restrained by gender either. A young man was asked to remove his shirt, a young woman was given a kiss for correctly identifying four songs Katy had sung, and a medley of males and females alike were welcomed on stage for some dancing and cuddling.
Perhaps the pre-teen generation are moving in a world very different to that of my own childhood – where girl power and Take That reigned supreme… okay, perhaps it’s not altogether that different, but this time you can be sexually open from the start, rather than having speculative and indeed derogatory articles written about you as ‘the lesbo one’ because you are wearing the trainers. This gender-neutral, fluid behaviour is of course emblazoned on the sleeves of Lady Gaga, and newcomer Jessie J, but also Rihanna and even Disney’s sweetheart Miley Cyrus have made allusions that ‘love is love’ or something similar.
Perhaps this ‘revolution’ is in fact more of an evolution. The message that sexual preference isn’t the be-all and end-all has been a slow burner. Let’s trace it with our little queer fingers from the Spice Girls’ Sapphic embraces, to Madonna and Britney’s lip-lock, to Pink’s … everything. They hinted, they flirted, they denied. It now seems that finally it’s alright to just say – here it is, sexuality is okay, please buy my pop song. And parents seem very happy to take their little children along to see this.
In turn, our pop stars are happy to support their audience – Gaga’s termination of contract with Target serving as a recent example. Yes, today’s teeny boppers truly do have it sweet.
This was written by Amy Ekins, writer of fiction and non-fiction alike. She is training as a Project Manager for a publishing company, a graduate of English Literature and Creative Writing, and can be found at www.twitter.com/amyeek – Go on, give her a tweet!