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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? is a 2017 documentary on Perry's experiences while living in a home where her life was filmed as a promotion of her album Witness. Overall, the documentary attempts to reveal more of her "real self" behind the superstar public image -- be it through her talk with a therapist about the insecurities still plaguing her about her conservative religious upbringing or through selfies sans makeup, for instance. There are numerous instances of Perry trying to get out of her "comfort zone": discussing science with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, cooking with Gordon Ramsay, or meeting with various celebrities, activists, and fans to discuss contemporary societal concerns. These moments should especially appeal to Perry's superfans, aka "Katycats," and reveal to them that they're not alone in feeling insecure about themselves. There's some sex talk: A game of "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" -- in which James Corden and Perry either answer embarrassing questions or eat samples of disgusting food -- leads to Perry being asked to rank the sexual prowess of three of her exes, and Corden being asked if he has ever taken a picture of his penis with his phone. During a live chat session, a fan asks Perry when she lost her virginity. Occasional profanity is heard, with the stronger language bleeped out. While at its core a promo of an album, it's an interesting attempt to elevate the discussion between pop stars and their audiences to something meaningful.
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What's the story?
As a way to promote her album Witness, Katy Perry decides to put her life, literally, under glass by living in a space where she's filmed around the clock, streamed out to the world via YouTube. KATY PERRY: WILL YOU BE MY WITNESS showcases the highlights from the experience. Perry uses this opportunity to discuss feminism, to elevate the discussions we have about politics, and to learn more about science and cooking with various celebrity guests stopping by to chat. She also livestreams a therapy session in which she talks of the difficulties and insecurities Katheryn Hudson experiences even while presenting to the world the seemingly unstoppable and confident Katy Perry. Each talk and planned event, no matter how heavy or light, revolves around the idea of "being a witness" to trying to make the world a better place and to giving others space to share their ideas about the world we live in.
Is it any good?
This documentary is, at its core, a promo of Katy Perry's album Witness, but it's also a refreshing break from the self-centered ego and narcissism that usually typifies promos such as these. Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? is documentation of Katheryn Hudson chafing against the Katy Perry persona she has performed as for the past 10 years, an attempt to use her stardom to highlight societal concerns, and an effort to show her fans that they're not alone in their issues with self-esteem and insecurities.
It's a rebranding effort that seems to be Perry's reaction to the rampant hatred in the world, and there's clearly a sincerity behind it all that also mirrors what so many of the "Katycats"-- especially those who are women, and/or people of color -- are experiencing and confronting in their own lives. Some of it feels a little forced -- the only time Perry says "oh my goddess" instead of "oh my god" is during the "female empowerment dinner," and it's a little cringe-inducing to watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson quote Galileo to Perry and to "witness" her reaction as "I also now have a crush on Galileo! What a beautiful poet!" Still, considering how vapid promos such as these usually are, Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? dares to ask questions and address issues that need to be addressed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about documentaries. What's the appeal of documentaries? How does Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? compare to other documentaries you've seen?
How could this documentary be viewed as an infomercial for Perry's latest album? Do you think it's OK to blur the line between marketing and entertaining?
What are some of the topics the documentary tries to address? If you did something similar and had the level of fame that Perry has, what issues would you like to discuss? Who would you invite to participate?
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