And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #196: Katy Perry v Allah

By | Published on Friday 28 February 2014

Katy Perry

So, Ms Katy Perry is a blasphemer, that’s this week’s news. Or at least she is according to an online petition that called for the recently released video for her track ‘Dark Horse’ to be removed from YouTube (technically the Vevo bit of YouTube).

In the Ancient Egyptian-themed clip, there is a sequence where a Cleopatra-like Perry employs her Ancient-World-come-Pop-Promo powers to zap an admirer, resulting in him disintegrating into the sand. So far so OTT.

The problem, it seems, is that the disintegrated man is wearing a pendant which – if you freeze frame the video at the right moment – you can just about see carries the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic script. And that has offended a group of Muslims who believe that Perry zapping a man wearing such a pendant, and indeed destroying the pendant itself, is nothing less than pop blasphemy.

It’s Bradford-based Shazad Iqbal who brought the clip to wider attention, setting up the online petition calling for the video to be banned, and declaring: “At 01:15 into the video ‘Dark Horse’ a man is shown being burned, whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word Allah. Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames”.

He went on: “Using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion. My only request is to all artists in the music industry: You have wealth, fame and success – please do not use the foundations of other religions in a mockery to carry out your fame”.

So, there you go. Although the petition has not been without its critics, 60,000 people have now signed up to the campaign calling for the video to be removed. And yesterday Perry’s label and/or Vevo seemed to respond, re-posting the promo in edited form with the offending pendant smudged out. Vevo also seems to have plonked a little promotional message into the corner of the screen at the key moment so you can’t see the smudging.

Which makes this beef a bit one-sided really, doesn’t it? Where’s Perry standing up for the First Amendment of her home country? Where’s director Mathew Cullen publicly pondering on what exactly ‘Allah’ meant to the Ancient Egyptians, living as they did in a pre-Islamic age? What, they both decided that this was just the kind of debate they could really do without, so instead let Vevo try to kill the outrage with a simple smudge? Well, that’s understandable, I suppose.