Katy Perry’s Killer Propaganda
There is no agony like heartbreak.
This truth is the basis for the most effective and most subversive piece of government propaganda I have ever seen.
I am referring, as inconceivable as it may seem, to a Katy Perry music video. It’s titled Part of Me. The video has been watched over
half a billion times on Youtube alone. The TV broadcast stats are likely just as staggering.
The song itself is a power pop track with a driving chorus. It’s a breakup anthem about turning the pain of relationship betrayal into perseverance and inner strength.
But the song’s incarnation as a music video is a cold-blooded masterwork of emotional manipulation. The video transmogrifies the song into military propaganda par excellence. We witness a sweet and vulnerable young woman find personal salvation by transforming into a professional killer.
The Fantasy Begins
The video starts with Katy’s discovery that her lover has being lying to her. Interrupting his flirtation with another woman, Katy tells him off and leaves him behind. She pulls her car into a gas station, and inside a message captures her attention:
She stares at the recruiting slogan, and in a moment of wide-eyed revelation decides that joining the Marines is her path to salvation.
Katy’s transformation begins in the gas station bathroom. She strips away her femininity and individuality. She chops off her hair, removes her jewelry, tightly binds her breasts in bandages, and changes into a hooded sweatshirt. Next shot she is at Camp Pendleton handing over her personal belongings – clothes, phone, keys – in exchange for military fatigues and boots. She has become property of the United States Marine Corps.
Break You Down
Her training begins in the barracks with other homogenized recruits being screamed at by a drill instructor. As this sergeant explains, “Their job is to break you down as a civilian and turn you into a member of the U.S. military.”
What does it mean to break you down? It means that independence of thought and action are systematically suppressed. Anybody who is in the military or has seen war movies knows this. The fundamental goal of the training is unquestioning, unconditional compliance. The euphemism for this is discipline.
The more important question is Why? Break you down to what end? The answer is as brutal as it is simple. Total obedience. You are going to be ordered to kill complete strangers – oftentimes as many as you can – under any conceivable circumstance. When that order comes, the regime depends on your unflinching submission to its authority. Individual accountability is diffused through the so-called chain of command.
To comply without hesitation when ordered to kill others is the essence of being a soldier. You are a weapon to be used at the discretion of politicians. No one could have explained a soldier’s function to the regime he serves more bluntly than former Army sergeant, Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who told General Alexander Haig:
Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.
A Killer Is Born
The rest of the video focuses on Katy’s transformation into a hardened killer. We begin on the firing range. The gunner instructor in the video’s making-of special explains to Katy, “These rifles are designed to do two things: destroy things and kill people.”
Next is hand-to-hand combat. The making-of special includes the audio from the training. The instructor says “Execute” and the soldiers scream “Kill!” as they throw each strike.
Katy’s combat knife is mounted on the end of her rifle as a bayonet. In response to the “Execute” order, she and the other soldiers scream “Kill!” as they stab their blades into the targets.
In a moment of moral reservation revealed in the making-of special, Katy tells the director, “I do not condone violence.” The director responds, “This is not violence. This is protection.” “That’s what they said,” she replies, before stabbing the training target in the face while shouting “Kill!”
Were Katy to have been deployed in the invasion of Iraq, I suspect she would have needed constant reminding in the midst of shock and awe: “This is not violence. This is protection.” Every shot fired, every bomb dropped, is always and everywhere defense.
The training progresses to simulated killing of real people, this time choking someone under water.
Interspersed with the execute-kill shots are vignettes of happy memories from her former life, prompted by an apology letter she receives from her ex. Disgusted with the weakness of her former self, she sets the letter on fire with a Marines-branded lighter.
Band of Sisters
To complement the kill training are the all-important teamwork and camaraderie exercises. They are a cornerstone of military conditioning. Katy learns to fireman carry an injured comrade. The troops run together, live together, eat together, and overcome grueling physical challenges. Most soldiers form life-long bonds during their time in the military, and they conflate those bonds with the political institution which employs them.
Yet an open secret of military life is that soldiers often feel deeply misused by politicians. What keeps them in line — what prevents desertion or revolt — is the familial bond shared among their peers. The willingness to risk your life for your brothers keeps everyone unified when carrying out the directives of politicians, no matter how objectionable. As the famous line from Saving Private Ryan explains in quoting Alfred Tennyson:
Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die…. We have orders and we are to follow those orders, and that supersedes everything.
Katy’s training culminates in full-scale battle simulation with helicopters and amphibious assault vehicles.
Interspersed with the climactic assault montage are shots of Katy euphorically dancing and singing under an enormous American flag held up by soldiers.
Throughout these scenes we hear Katy’s musical refrain to her ex: This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me. She has found her true self by becoming a professional killer for the government. To her this represents the ultimate expression of strength and personal liberation. The most important decisions in Katy’s life are now in the hands of D.C. politicians.
After the premiere Katy explained to MTV why she made the video a tribute to the military: “It’s an affirmation of strength, so I wanted to go the strongest route I ever could.” She goes on to call the military “the heart of America.”
Unconditional submission to political authority is “the strongest route” there is? Katy, if you ever happen across this article, I propose an alternative narrative. Dedicating your life to killing complete strangers whenever a politician orders you to is not the strongest one can be. Millions blindly follow orders. The bravest heroes in this world are law-breakers. The heart of America — actually the heart of humanity — are people who do what is right regardless of what they are told.
The final shot of the video shows Katy in battle camouflage locked in a thousand-yard stare. It’s the hallmark look of a trained killer, the expression of someone who has successfully divorced emotion from aggression. She is now prepared to end others’ lives on command without question or hesitation. Becoming a paid killer for the government is Katy’s salvation.
Katy’s killer stare is our portal out of her music video fantasy-land into the reality of soldiers and war, where there are no training dummies, camera crews, or twirling under flag-tents.
Living a Nightmare
On this day a couple years ago, a wife and two parents suffered a loss which makes the pain of a broken heart pale in comparison. A real solider, a young man named Daniel Somers, shot himself in the head. He left his parents and high school sweetheart a lucid, devastating letter explaining why.
Daniel executed over 400 combat missions in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. His loyal service to the American regime caused him devastating psychological trauma. The Army trained him to kill on command, but Daniel could not suppress the torment he felt for the victims. He wrote:
The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply cannot come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.
Suicide Soldier is a song dedicated to Daniel’s memory. There is no dancing, no Katy Perry, no salvation through political killing. There is only the awful truth about war — those who benefit, those who suffer, and the words of Daniel as he is consumed by it. The response to Part of Me:
I urge you to read Daniel’s letter. The voice of his conscience is harrowing:
I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.
To me Daniel’s reasoning is inescapable. If the very few people in this world who I love and adore were killed by an invading military force, nothing could make it right. Yet acts which are criminal for civilians are legal for government employees. This hypocrisy is epitomized by the words of the general who led the invasion:
Who Do You Serve?
The most common refrain soldiers hear from civilians is, “Thank you for your service.” But the simple fact is soldiers don’t serve you or me. Soldiers serve political regimes. They are not volunteers. They are government employees.
Fishermen and garbage collectors, who have markedly higher casualty rates than police officers, are not volunteers either. If somebody invaded my home and my neighbor came to my aid, that would be volunteering. Acts performed as part of one’s job are not volunteerism.
When soldiers risk their lives to carry out the orders of politicians, they are doing it in service to the regime who employs them. Here is one civics lesson every person on this planet needs to know: You are not the government.
Government is an institution which exists for one purpose — to perpetuate itself. The techniques for doing that are numerous and vary from regime to regime. But the one thing they all crave is killing power. And of course any amount of killing power is lawful because the government claims a monopoly on both the creation of laws and their enforcement.
The moral code of government is that of a well-attired thug: Might makes right. The Chinese politician Mao Zedung put it succinctly. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” So-called social contracts such as the U.S. Constitution are inherently incapable of restraining government incursion into every facet of our lives. In the “land of the free” everything that is not forbidden requires government permission.
How to Recruit Professional Killers
Governments recruit people by masterfully appealing to their desire to find greater meaning and purpose in life. Military ads tap every aspect of human ambition: self-improvement, education, financial gain, adventure, innovation, heroism, and being part of something bigger than oneself. The Navy’s recruiting slogan says it all:
Behind every slicky produced appeal to serve as a contracted killer for the regime is the endless ambition of politicians. Soldiers don’t vow to serve the governed. They swear an oath to “obey the orders of the President of the United States.”
How to End War
The way to end war is to understand its cause and then reject it. The cause is not “evil” or the violent nature of man. There will always be conflict in this world. But the nature of that conflict is what separates war from all private acts of violence. So what is war stripped of its pageantry and rhetoric?
War is when complete strangers murder each other because politicians order them to. It’s as simple as it is absurd. Can you believe people actually go through with it?
Sociopaths — people who are completely unrestrained by truth or empathy — will always be on the prowl for power. The only question is whether peaceful people believe society should be structured in such a way that sociopaths (who by definition will do what others won’t) can commandeer institutions capable of catastrophic destruction.
What’s the alternative?
Stop pledging allegiance to political regimes. Pledge allegiance to those you love. Pledge allegiance to those you serve in business, in charity, and in other voluntary pursuits. Pledge allegiance to kindness. Most of all, pledge allegiance to your conscience. Refuse to be an accomplice to institutionalized killing.
We’re here only briefly. Leave this world being who you want to be, not someone you’ve been ordered to be.
An Appeal to Soldiers
If you’re a soldier who has read this far, know that I’m not writing to attack. I’m writing to persuade. I challenge you to do one of the harder things one can do — question the validity of how you make a living. I suggest that if you want to help others, to improve yourself, to see the world, to connect with family and friends at the deepest levels, there are better ways than subjecting yourself to the life-and-death whims of politicians.
Under the “leadership” of the regime, your fellow soldiers have been killing themselves more often than dying in combat. And those who are injured and suffering largely receive lousy medical treatment. Release yourself from the burden of knowing deep down that you’re a hired killer for people who are less likable than cockroaches. They are bent on replacing you anyway. Lay them off and take back your life.
I’m not suggesting anyone hate America. Patriotism is not love of country. It is love of government. Instead love your culture — its customs, traditions, language, art, music, food, sports, dance, literature, and peaceful industry. This is the substance of what makes living somewhere a joy. This is civilization. This is what lifts us up as beings animated by love and inspiration rather than fear.
Don’t Fall for the Racket
When it comes to war, the stark difference between government and the governed is explained with chilling insight by Nazi politician and military commander Hermann Goering:
Why of course the people don’t want war…neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along…. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
There’s a 9/11 worth of people killed every other day from heart disease in America. And a 9/11 worth are maimed and killed on the roads every couple weeks. But terrorism, a lesser threat than bathtub falls, utterly dominates mainstream media. The MSM is the mouthpiece for the regime’s perpetual fear mongering, and people know it.
To soldiers and civilians alike who consider war an unfortunate necessity of life, consider the wisdom of one of the most decorated soldiers in history:
If General Butler were alive today, I suspect he would say it’s no coincidence the U.S. government is the #1 weapons dealer in the world while its citizens are the most imprisoned and the most surveilled.
Katy, it’s all connected. General Butler is the Marine we should celebrate. Use your voice to sing truth to power. I’ll sing along with you and so will millions of others.
Liberty is to life what sand is to beaches.