Hip-hop and rap “love songs” seem to be ever more about the person singing or rapping, and about their sexual prowess, power, or wealth (aka “bling”), than about the object of their affection. It’s so self-absorbed it’s embarrassing, or at least it would be if their fan base took the time to think critically about lyrics, or in some cases, if they didn’t glorify self-absorption. Katy Perry is one of the more recent top 40 offenders.
In Perry’s music video, “Dark Horse,” she appears as an Egyptian goddess who encounters several men she literally destroys with her beauty. Note that she wrote the song and decided on the direction of the video. Embarrassed for her? You should be.
One of the men she destroys is turned to ash when she looks at him and smiles. Another who raps, “I thought that I might hit it and quit it” (to translate for you, “hit” is sex, and even more tragically, “it,” is another human being; in this case, Perry) finds himself “addicted,” reduced to a panting dog, and begging for more. He is literally transformed and has the body of a puppy and face of a man at the end of the video. (It’s important to note that Perry is very popular among middle school girls.)
In other words, he thought he might turn her into an object and use her but she “wins” by sexually dominating him. And of course the world’s liberated view of sexuality and feminine “power” is so much healthier than our repressed, guilt stained Catholicism with its antiquated notions of self-mastery and life-giving self-donation, right? (I hope you’re catching my sarcasm.)
What might strike the average pre-teen fan as funny about the video actually offers a striking glimpse into the demonic nature of contemporary culture’s treatment of sex. Yes. I just did that. I just called the modern world’s approach to sex “the devil.” But before you accuse me of going all “Church lady” on you, let me explain.
Only God is worthy of adoration, and only God, the source of glory, can bestow glory on a person. Because the devil is separated from God by his own choice, the only way he can create the appearance of “glory” for himself is by diminishing the creatures around him—widening the gap between them and himself, and creating the illusion that he’s worthy of their adoration. He’s under the delusion that he can somehow increase his metaphysical “ranking” by ripping other’s down. He’s like that really mean kid you knew in Junior High who picked on everyone to make himself feel better…only scarier.
Our porn-saturated culture presents a false image, not only of sex, but of people. It reduces people to a state that’s more animal than human. People don’t enter “heat” like animals do. An animal in heat can’t do other than mate if the opportunity presents itself. There is no mutual self-giving because there is no free will involved. Dark Horse, like countless movies and music videos, presents the narrative of one person being lowered to that animal-like state by another, who then dominates with his or her sexual prowess.
In the Perry music video, puppy-man’s humble state doesn’t increase the glory of the woman, but it reduces the man before her so much that it creates the appearance that she is a goddess, and is worthy of adoration by this lesser creature. He ends up so dominated by his desire and her prowess that he is reduced to what looks like a “worshipper” before her. He has no choice but to surrender all to the sexual “power” before him.
It appears that our porn-saturated media and music taps into a very old temptation—the first, in fact. It’s a temptation so old that the ancient serpent threw it at us as his first pitch. He knew it well because it was in himself and was the cause of his own fall. “You shall be as gods.” (Genesis 3:5).
Life, love, self-gift to another, or even pausing to consider the beauty and goodness of the other all seem to be steadily disappearing from pop culture’s approach to sex, and it’s very dark indeed.