As Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" approaches its second month at Number One, it's time to come to terms with it. Until Thomas told me a few minutes ago that this was a Cathy Dennis-Max Martin collaboration (the producer and Perry herself are also credited), I assumed a Linda Perry-wannabe cobbled it together from disparate parts belonging to Pink and "I Touch Myself." Furthermore, I'm surprised by the number of straight guys I know offended by its sentiments. Jonathan Bradley mentions how the song's been framed as "oh my god lesbian exploitation"; Josh's reaction ("honestly I'm even inclined to defend the lyrics if only because the counter-argument is so stale and automatic") makes sense too. Meanwhile Thomas hates it: Katy Perry turns homosexuality into a fetish. Hell, I burbled once, "The world's waited for an answer to Franz Ferdinand's `Michael' long enough." I wish.
A unabashed enthusiast for any song that bulldozes instead of sneaks same-sex sentiment into the Top 40, I was ready to endorse it had Perry given me a clue as to how she wants me to respond. Where Carrie Underwood would have unearthed some ambivalence in the chorus and Rihanna delighted in the transgression to her value system, Perry just sounds blank; she could be the female edition of Bret Easton Ellis' protagonist in Less Than Zero, to whom things happen in an expanding, scarcely credible chain of randomness. In its way "I Kissed A Girl" tells us much about America in 2008: we're tired of being forced to take a position on those damn gays, tired of this president, and we're not so crazy about the funny old white guy and slick black guy running to replace him. Its anomie can barely rise to annoyance.