Money, fame, and power: three of the biggest driving forces in celebrities’ lives. Celebrities in today’s culture are being stripped of their talent and told how to perform. Stardom (in the music industry) is becoming less and less centered on talent, and more centered on sex and the body. With that being said, how are Christians in the entertainment world supposed to maintain their beliefs while battling the pressures of their managers and demanding fans?
Here’s a look at Katy Perry and her career gives us insight into this wild world called “show biz.”
In a span of five years, Katy Perry has risen to fame, starting with her light-hearted chart-topper, “I Kissed A Girl.” Perry was raised by her parents, Keith Hudson and Mary Perry, two traveling pastors from Santa Barbara, California. She was raised in a strict Pentecostal home, and grew up going to Christian schools and day camps. In an interview from 2009 on StarScoop.com, Perry stated, “Growing up I wasn’t really allowed to listen to a whole lot of what my mom would call, ‘secular music.’”
What most people do not know is that in 2001, at age 17, Perry released her first studio album, Katy Hudson, a gospel-rock album under the Red Hill label with no relative success. Fast forward 12 years, and the Teenage Dream singer is the only female to have 5 number 1 hits from the same album, has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards, and was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2012.
So what took this innocent, Christian school girl from failed gospel singer to pop queen?
It seems Perry had let go of any and all ties to Christianity when she rose to stardom, despite the ‘Jesus’ tattoo ascribed in black cursive on her left wrist. In her RollingStone cover story, Perry states, “God is very much still a part of my life. But the way the details are told in the Bible—that’s very fuzzy for me. . . . I still believe that Jesus is the son of God.”
Although Perry claims she has maintained her beliefs, she also stated that there was a ‘letting go’ process that had to take place. “Letting go was a process,” she said. “Meeting gay people, or Jewish people, and realizing that they were fine was a big part of it. Once I stopped being chaperoned, and realized I had a choice in life, I was like, ‘Wow, there are a lot of choices.’ I began to become a sponge for all that I had missed—the music, the movies. I was as curious as the cat. But I’m not dead yet.”
Despite her statements, it did not seem like the California Gurls singer wanted anything to do with Christianity. Her sexy lyrics, outfits, and music videos all told us that she had left God far behind. Could this have been her own exploration or outside pressures? The entertainment world is known to push the limits, especially on newcomers who are chomping at the bit for fame and attention. It is not until one reaches that fame and success that they can negotiate their style.
With the release of her fourth studio album, ‘Prism’, dropping on October 22, the world is starting to see a whole new Katy Perry. The album sticks to her pop-partying sound, with her staple ‘Candy Land’ flare, but it also shows a new side to her. The last track on the album, titled, ‘By the Grace of God’ gives us a new look at Katy Perry and how she is handling her faith in Hollywood. In her interview with Billboard Magazine, Perry states, “I can only write autobiographically,” and, “I put all the evidence in the music. I tell my fans if they want to know the real truth about stuff, just listen to the songs.”
The lyrics in the song are intensely personal, revealing her struggles with suicidal thoughts, and only being able to overcome those “by the grace of God.” With the piano and vocals alone, Perry shows her undying faith and how she had to return to it after her messy divorce, despite fame and fortune.
Are Christians expecting too much out of these stars? Every Christ follower goes through different stages in their faith journey. The movement from ‘borrowed faith’ to personal faith can take a lot of self-exploration and working out. Are stars like Katy Perry crossing a line when they express their struggles and experiences in their work?
Katy Perry is moving on from young adulthood into a more mature, self-aware adult. As she enters a new phase of her life, she will have two options: return to her grounded roots, or grow into a figure similar to Madonna, not letting spirituality change who she is. Fighting off the pressures of the entertainment world is nearly impossible, but by the grace of God, Christian artists can thrive in a secular culture while living out their faith.
(Photo courtesy of novafm.com)