Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

They both kissed girls, but I’ll only respect one in the morning

The day: Southern California just south of Santa Monica, warm and oppressive as Los Angeles so often is. I’m in my old beater of a Mazda (which has served me oh-so-well through the years) playing the rock station I think Butch Walker introduced me to, if I’m not mistaken, when I hear a song by Katy Perry. It’s obviously pretty purely pop confection, with the kind of heavy, thuddy beat that masks the fact that there’s really nothing going on and then kind of vocal enhancement that tries to conceal that the vocalist can’t actually sing.

But don’t take my word for it:

My first thought on hearing it was: “Jill Sobule called. She wants her song back.”

Which is, I think, actually charitable. Because really, it doesn’t really rip Sobule off so much as insult homosexuality and the GLBT community in general.

Here’s Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl”:

You know what I love about Jill Sobule? She looks so happy and joyful. She’s having so much fun playing her guitar she nearly falls backward in her bed, and there’s her feet not reaching the floor. I love her facial expressions, and the way she sings, like kissing a girl was, for her, a revelation. An epiphany.

“They can have their diamonds while we have our pearls.”

It’s a rather defiant statement but one without anger or resentment behind it. It’s like she gets the fact that the most powerful and influential revolutionary, and the one who will most change the world, is the one who’s smiling.

And then there’s Katy Perry.

So the video opens with her on the bed, stroking her pussy (cat). Already, it goes, arguably, a little more toward crude and tasteless than Sobule’s. And okay, I get that we can’t really exactly compare the two videos, because videos are less about the artist and the song than they are about the record companies and the marketing.

So fair play. How about that song?

The first time I heard it was driving down that sunny California street (I was actually on Romaine, a block south of Santa Monica). Quiet residential streets flooded with hard sunshine. Which I tell you because I had no visual to go with it. All I had was the song and the lyrics. Which start off mostly okay; I didn’t take issue with her lack of planning or intentions. So it was sorta spontaneous. Took her by surprise. All right. It’s not what she’s used to, she just wants to “try you on.”

Not quite the best metaphor, I don’t think. Doesn’t “try you on” objectify the recipient? You don’t “try” a person “on”; people are not blouses that are not going to fit correctly and which you have to bring to your tailor to take in the sides. People are not high heels that look great but are totally uncomfortable.

Peoples, as I learned from The Muppets Take Manhattan, is peoples.

“I kissed a girl and I liked it/the taste of cherry chapstick.” And hey, sure, I identify with that. I’ve kissed girls and it’s generally something I like, as well. Some have tasted of cherry chapstick. Or vanilla. I like kisses sans flavor, personally, but that’s a personal proclivity we’ll not discuss farther because it has little to do with the topic at hand.

“I kissed a girl just to try it.” I’ve kissed a couple girls “just to try it.” I prefer to be romantically interested in the girl, because I kinda think just kissing someone you’re not actually interested in dating is leading them on, but then again I’ve gone on first dates I wasn’t entirely certain were going to lead to second dates but still ended with a kiss. Only a couple, mind, but still.

“I hope my boyfriend don’t [sic] mind it.”

Oh, now hold the phone. You’re romantically involved with someone enough to call him your boyfriend but still kissed someone else? Infidelity much? Sorry, here’s where I take real issues. Not saying, of course, that one can’t be in a romantic relationship and kiss someone else; lots of people have open relationships, but the “rules,” so to speak, of such relationships are generally clearly delineated ahead of time, no? I mean, it’s not something that you just go to a bar and start making out with random people, unless you’ve clearly established that’s okay beforehand. Otherwise, it’s really kinda cheating, ain’t it? And sure, I know lots of guys wouldn’t mind it if their girlfriends started making out with other girls, but the reason there, of course, is the visions of threesomes dancing like sugarplums in their heads.

Well, mostly, anyway. Probably. My point is, she kissed a girl without first discussing it with her boyfriend.

And then the next stanza:

“No I don’t even know your name
It doesn’t matter
You’re my experimental game
Just human nature.”

So on one hand: I agree about homosexuality. I don’t believe it’s a lifestyle choice, and I think anyone who does is bisexual (it seems to me that anyone who thinks gay people made a choice about which gender to be attracted to probably, at some point, made that choice themselves. Stands to reason, I think), which means that yes, I agree it’s human nature.

What I don’t agree with is “experimental.” I think there’s a Bill Maher or Chris Rock joke that goes something along the lines of “experiment my ass. Unless you’re wearing a lab coat and goggles, it’s not an experiment. An experiment? Really? So what was your hypothesis, Heisenberg?” To me, again, it goes back to objectification and just trying a person on.

I mean, again, it doesn’t have to be so, but only with the consent of both parties. And given that Katy Perry doesn’t even know the name of the girl she kissed, how can she know she has her consent to do so? The song states there’s alcohol involved; what if this poor girl Katy Perry kissed and whose name she never knew starts to struggle with depression and anxiety due to the questions about her sexuality kissing Perry raises?

“It’s not what good girls do
Not how they should behave.”

Oh, really? Kissing other girls is not what “good girls” do? So all lesbians are, by opposition, bad girls? Good girls shouldn’t be lesbians?

I tell you, all the fucking ruckus GLAAD raises over Eminem, where are they now? I Googled Katy Perry and GLAAD and got pretty much nill, except a pointer to this MSNBC story that notes the media is giving her homophobic music a free pass.

Which, in addition, led me to her other music video for “Ur so Gay”:

1) she’s not talking about gay; she’s talking about emo.

2) she opens by wishing someone would accidentally kill themselves by suffocating on their H&M scarf while masturbating (to Mozart? zuh?).

3) Zooey Deschanel called. She wants her look back, because, like with Jill Sobule, you stole it and don’t even do it right.

4) It sounds like she’s just bitter because emo dude with whom she fell in love and who later dumped her is prettier than she is, thinner than she is, wears make-up better than she does, and dresses better than she does.

And the only reason I link to that video is so you know I’m not making any of that up.

(well. Except for the prettier thing and all that, because obviously it’s just dolls in the video, so I’m just assuming that based on her looks/style)

And look, the funny thing is that I must confess I’m kinda completely a dude when it comes to lesbians (ZOMGLEZBIENSWOOTFTWBBQ!!!!111!). Like Charlie Sheen in Being John Malkovich: “Hot lesbian witches? That’s fucking genius!” And even though Perry never actually kisses a girl in her video, there’s a sequence where lingerie models have a pillowfight, and we all know what happens when lingerie models pillowfight.

What, no? But I thought—

Man, next thing you’re going to tell me is there’s no Easter bunny!

No, but in all seriousness, one of the major objections raised to Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy was that it implied that all lesbians really needed was a good, hard dickin’ to “cure them of their ways,” so to speak, and I think Perry perpetuates this somehow. Because the way I read the song, she’s doing it for attention and basically because she’s bored, as an experiment. And (and I can’t stress this enough) she already has a boyfriend.

So really, homosexuality is just confusion and experimentation and boredom, because it’s not what good people do, not the way good people behave. (/sarcasm)

I mean, can you imagine if a guy sang a song like this? Can you imagine if Justin Timberlake came out with a song called “Tickle Kiss” about making out with a guy who hadn’t shaved for a week? Nevermind that it’s all the news channels would talk about for a month while whatever evangelical preacher who cared lamented that it was a sign of the moral degradation of society and a signal that the end is NIGH!

But is it okay because it’s a chic–I’m sorry–girl? Am I making too much of girls making out, or do you take some umbrage, too? Why is what’s good for the goose not good for the gander?


  1. I would like to point out that had you watched the links of Kevin Smith talking that I sent, like six months ago, you would know that Kevin Smith had that line spoken by the dumbess guy in the film ON PURPOSE to show that it was a dumb line of logic. Ouch man. I watch your videos… well except for the two above not working. Since I can’t do anything about it I will stick my tounge out at you and hope you have enough of a imagination to visualise it. 😛

    Now, this song came out a while ago so I’m kinda surprised your writing about it now but what the hell. never too late to bitch about the stupidity and double standards of others. (May Bryan Singer burn in hell. Amen.) First off, this singer does by no means represent those trully bisexual, bi-curious, and lesbians who are either trying to figure out for them selves what their sexuallity is or what it isn’t. She makes that pretty clear from her lyrics. No, she is in a rapidly growing group of girls who do stupid slutty acts for attetion or pleasure. At least she was smart enough to make money off it as oppose to the ladies on Girls Gone Wild.

    Now here’s the thing, some girls really enjoy kissing other girls but have no intention of dating one. I don’t get it my self, but, what ever. Some of these girls don’t mind if guys watch and others do mind. They kiss girls for the same reason some one plays golf, they like it.

    I’ve personally never kissed a girl, it’s not on my list of things to do before I die. However, I can see how the opportunity could arise and then become a hobby. A few years ago, and I don’t know how it came up, my then boyfreind brother’s girlfreind was appalled by the fact that I had never seen another girl’s breasts up close and personall beofore. So, she invited to the bath room so she could flash me and I could flash her. She… I’m a good person stop judging me… she complimented my rack and I complinted hers and we walked out of the bath room. Their was no aciidental slipping into the shower and having sex or anything. It was boring. Now if she asked to kiss me I would have politley declined but other girls might not. You do it once you may do it again. Thus explaining the straight girls who have no intention of having sex with girls but like kissing them.

    Society is bombarded by images of girls kissing girls as acceptible. Boys kissing boys… not so much. It dosn’t help that more men are turned on by girls kissing girls then women who are turned on by boys kissing boys. Is it fair that it’s acceptible for a girl to kiss a girl, to even have sex with that girl but a boy can’t even hold hands with a guy he really likes? No, but if those two girls wanted to get married the people who didn’t mind the kissing might start getting mad.

    If I haven’t made my point I forgot what it was so I’m just gonna stop now. Sorry for the length.

  2. @Gotham: I don’t remember when you pointed out those videos, but I didn’t need to check them out because I already own both Evening and Evening Harder. So I know well the moment you’re talking about. The point still goes that he gets criticized for it, though (as the question-asking lesbian in question mentions).

    And as for the other… I thought men have the privilege in society. If men have such privilege, surely they should be able to do whatever they like with whomever they like. (this is, of course, where the privilege argument begins to deteriorate, because it’s supposed to be “straight” privilege, except that homophobia is, arguably, a relatively new construct, socially)

    I’d also argue that “stupid slutty acts for attention” doesn’t really further the whole women-reclaiming-their-sexuality cause, does it? I mean, unless the whole point is that women want to reclaim their sexuality because they want to be sluts, but I don’t think that’s the case.

  3. PS- I fixed those videos. No idea why those links didn’t work the first time, but they should, now.

  4. It’s all a trendy, money making ploy. They’ve used these lyrics as to make a kerfuffle (lets fuck with these kids heads more, so maybe they’ll give us more money). Songs have been doing that forever. It’s funny, though, because it’s not like we’re talking Sex Pistols or Marylin Manson we’re taking the trendy-pop-single-mainstream. This song was designed for the confused generation of today. It’s catchy, yet, when you think about the lyrics, it sends a fucked up message. Like you’ve so awesomely detailed. Kinda reminds me of that Rehab song. Bums me out that little ten year old girls are growing up, thinking this kind of random behaviour is okay. Like it’s a name brand of some sort, so it’s “cool”

    Yesterday, I swear I heard the song on the radio five times. Once, even, I heard Chad squealing the lyrics off in our backyard.

    In my opinion, the real lesbians, the ones who lead regular lives with their spouses will cringe the most.

    It sucks that songs are written about trashy behaviour and then become the next smash hit.

    “Can you imagine if Justin Timberlake came out with a song called “Tickle Kiss” about making out with a guy who hadn’t shaved for a week?”
    I probably wouldn’t mind it. Ha! I think the reason that they don’t come out with the men’s version is because male homosexuality isn’t as acceptable in the media, yet. That could change, and it very well may. And personally, I think you should call his agent, and see if you can line it up. Excellent idea!

  5. The fact that I used to work in marketing is probably why the first thing I thought when I read “Can you imagine if Justin Timberlake… ” was that, well, he CAN’T, and neither can men in general, because people won’t spend hard-earned cash on that.

    What I took away from my years in those particular trenches was that media that is meant to be sexually stimulating is aimed mostly at getting men off. That includes selling women stuff, be it clothes or make up or, say, ideas that will make them more attractive to men. First you make them feel like there’s something wrong with them, then you sell them the means to fix it.

    If men were allowed to have different kinds of relationships, it might be different.

    In regards to this, however: “If men have such privilege, surely they should be able to do whatever they like with whomever they like. (this is, of course, where the privilege argument begins to deteriorate, because it’s supposed to be “straight” privilege, except that homophobia is, arguably, a relatively new construct, socially)”

    I guess it depends on the definition of “new”, but construct or no, it is alive and well in our time. And speaking from one dude to another, Will, the privilege men supposedly don’t have is rooted in internalized homomphobia. Men, in general are so scared to come across as “faggy” (plz forgive the term) or feminized that we overcompensate in any number of ways.

    It’s really pissed me off too that this boring, over-produced song is getting so much play, but at the end of this sleep-deprived rant, I believe that the reason people are letting this one go is because it only gently tickles the social order. She’s not an actual Ghey, she’s adventureous but she’ll stick with her boyfriend because that’s what good girls do (right?) and she gets to do it all with power chords stomping behind her. This song was made for Hot Topic.

  6. @Lisa: oh, don’t even get me started on Winehouse. Seriously. What a massively fucked up artist. I’ve heard a lot of people opine “But at least she’s got talent,” which I can’t actually deny, but she’s totally squandered what she’s got and there are a lot of other artists out there doing that schtick better.

    @Jason: you bring up a lot of really good points, one dude to another. And yeah, I know Timberlake never could, but I think I was just trying to raise the question or issue in general. I didn’t mind the term at all because I knew what you’re saying, but it goes straight back to Perry: “faggy” and “gay” are insults, and we don’t want to be perceived that way. But that’s the thing; it’s perception. The first point there is that you can’t really control what other people think of you (many people think I’m an arrogant prick despite my best efforts to dispel the notion), and songs like Perry’s don’t help with that perception any.

    And god I hate Hot Topic. Every one I’ve ever been to has felt like claustrophobic consumerism with wares on top of wares on top of wares.

  7. I don’t recall saying the stupid slutty acts for attention was by any means furthering the because of women. I think I had a very different idea of what the purpose of this blog was and I think I have a much better idea of what that purpose is now. I don’t like repeating history so I’ll just end with that.

  8. @Gotham: no, I hadn’t meant to imply you had. You just mentioned stupid slutty acts to get attention, which I then correlated to the so-called feminist movement and women’s reclamation of sexuality and etc. Wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth or anything!

  9. Heard the song, thought oh, that’s really stupid then heard someone in an art store saying what an insult it was to GBLT folks and still thought, oh no, it’s still just stupid. Will look up Jill Sobule version, probably think about the same, but a bit peppier?

  10. “I must confess I’m kinda completely a dude when it comes to lesbians (ZOMGLEZBIENSWOOTFTWBBQ!!!!111!”

    That is the reason Jonathan is quite content having a relationship comprised of polyfidelity with two girls and one guy.

    The first time I heard the Katy Perry song I recall saying “honey, this is why I don’t listen to pop” and promptly put the station back to the local NPR broadcast. I’m not a fan of casual kissing or sex especially when given the excuse of “experimentation.” Having been an equal gender opportunist since I first had any interest in the opposite sex, I find Katy’s song is yet another distasteful attempt to stretch out her 15 minutes despite her lack of talent. Apparently you don’t need to have talent or stage presence in order to be a pop musician as long as you’re thin, reasonably pretty by society’s standards, and willing to sell yourself short.

    Many thanks for the Jill Sobule video, I hadn’t heard her song before and now must scour the net for more. 🙂 You’re right, she is simply joyful and her happiness is infectious. The use of Fabio as her partner was amusing. Here she is fantasizing a life with her female neighbor while dating/married to the king of romance novel covers.

    I have that Joe Hill book on order to arrive in the next few days with many thanks to the paperback exchange and my twin pregnancy books that are off to a woman in Arizona.

  11. @Pond: peppier but also more serious. It’s not as flippant and glib and trashy as Katy Perry’s. It’s kinda sweet and cute.

    @Miya: Oh, now I really hope you enjoy it. And yeah, Katy Perry is one of the more obvious lacks-of-talent lately. I caught a televised performance the other day and her voice was pretty awful. And I think you’ll dig Sobule. She’s a sweetheart.

    And can I also just note that I really like the polyfidelity thing? Not just that it’s two girls and a guy, but more as the term itself. I’ve heard of polyamory and polygamy before, but I love the addition of the idea of fidelity into it. Because fidelity is so important to relationships, and hell, a great lot of traditional “monogamous” relationships don’t just miss the boat but can’t even find the dock where it’s moored.

  12. The downside of polyfidelity is that one person’s instability can hurt three people not just two. The upside is that at least one of the members is normally in a good mood and there is an extra set of hands for tending to the children and chores. Housework goes much faster between three adults than two although for some reason it’s still falling onto me since I’m the stay at home mom. Bi,poly,pagan,AP, mom of twins… the number of labels keep growing but I still defy getting placed in a box.

    I pimped out your site on ChaCha. I received a query wanting to know if I knew any great upcoming authors and to describe the person in 7 words or less so I linked to your blog and replied “Witty, brilliant and easy on the eyes”. You may get another reader and I made 15 cents. 🙂

  13. Hmm.

    You’ve got me thinking. Curses!

    I definitely agree that the openness and joy are essential.

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