Katy Perry's New Perfume Ad Is a Socio-Political Nightmare

Katy Perry is the undeniable queen of glitzy glammy things that miss the mark. Whether it's sporting a ridiculous grill in an Ancient Egypt-themed music video or giving a performance in a smorgasbord of pan-Asian imagery (a visual P.F. Chang's), or having her backup dancers wear bodysuits that resemble a caricature of black women's bodies in another performance, she has a way of making folly look even more expensive. While her latest endeavor is not offensive, it is emblazoned with Perry's signature style of just.not.getting.it. And it's fucking hilarious.

Team Perry just released an ad for her new Killer Queen Royal Revolution perfume because nothing says "I smell great" like an obsolete form of government. Also the idea that Perry's perfume, the THIRD iteration in the Killer Queen line, is revolutionary is just plain laughable. Not only is KQRR an alliteration overload, but it demonstrates a amusingly warped understanding of the concept of revolution in advertisement and pop culture, blurring the lines between social change and consumerism with enough commodity fetishism to make any neo-Marxist pull out his or her own hair, or at least give someone a bad case of the sh-Engels. (Sorry, bad pun.)

The 2-minute saga tells the tale of a heroine who launches a one-woman revolution to overthrow some old wizard dude and save a bunch of peasant girls. Yep, this is gonna be good:

As you can see, there's a lot going on in this video. First of all, it's troubling that all the young women are drawn the exact same way to reflect high fashion sketches complete with elongated limbs and doe eyes. Like any other cartoon, Perry's ad is obviously not bound by the reality of the human body. However, submitting to fashion standards which carry their own body image baggage is a far cry from revolutionary. Also the idea that it would be more expensive to design and animate different body types would be as disputable a point as Katy Perry's net worth. And really, did you see the animation quality?

But what of this story line?

Katy Perry's New Perfume Ad Is a Socio-Political Nightmare

The fictional emperor deems the first born daughters of the peasants (or are they just normcore bourgeoisie?) his property, and with the use of what looks like a mystical TSA security machine, magically transforms them into identical red-haired drone waifs, with which he apparently decorates his castle. Or maybe they're coat racks or something because lord those hands are HUGE. But not to fear, Katy Perry and her Royal Revolution perfume are here to save the day.

After shoving a henchman through the machine (and making him grow boobs so quickly that they actually forge themselves onto the breastplate), heroine Katy Perry uses the "magic" power of her perfume vial to destroy the orb responsible for transforming those young ladies in an incredibly literal expression of commodity fetishism. The perfume, something that makes people smell like mothballs covered in flowers, destroys evil. Okay, it's no " 1984," but it's still pretty ridiculous.

Katy Perry's New Perfume Ad Is a Socio-Political Nightmare

Soon, all the tall, thin, and white women are transformed back into…tall, thin, white women (whew! close one, right?). And as they all experience their newfound freedom and perfume-steeped consciousness (a materialistic dialectical materialism) Katy Perry fucking nabs the emperor's throne for herself. She steals his crown but far more importantly, she steals his brand.

So under the guise of protecting the serfs or maybe proletariats (seriously, what time period is this? The plate armor indicates it might be the late Middle Ages, but Perry's jacket is more 19th century military with a hint of matador—admittedly v. cute, but also v. confusing), Perry stages a coup d'etat and installs herself as the new ruler, doing pretty much nothing for the young girls besides returning them to their families? Or is there a deeper message, in which she uses the spectacle of a fetishized commodity to overthrow the patriarchy and its homogenization of women and…install herself as the rule (who by the way is the only one with access to that magical perfume bottle) and her slightly less intense, but still pretty consistent homogenization of women and culture? Sigh.

Obviously this exercise is going to get us nowhere particularly because it's a Katy Perry perfume ad, but do I think it's an added bonus to keep in mind that Russell Brand, Perry's yogi, hippie, standup, ex husband has voiced actual well-founded thoughts on authority and revolution from time to time.

But sure! God save the Killer Queen and her Royal Revolution.