As I type this, Katy Perry is asleep on a circular mattress, a teacup poodle named Nugget nestled next to her head. Outside her bedroom, chefs are preparing pancakes in the shape of her face as depicted on the cover of her new album Witness. Soon, a gospel choir will wake her up, singing a song of hers as selected by voters in online poll. Next to the YouTube pane where this is all viewable from five different camera angles, comments are streaming: “WAKE UP KATYYYY.” “Taylor probably wrote an entire album by now while lazy perry is sleeping.” “Guys who want to date me, find my profile on this website …”
Perry is in the final stretch of a herculean publicity stunt, broadcasting for 96 hours from a Big Brother-style house with nine rooms and 41 cameras. The spectacle surely will, one day, be the subject of a dissertation, or maybe a few of them. Pick your interpretation. Perry is satirizing the social-media panopticon. She is commenting on the demands of fame. She is peeling back the veneer of pop stardom. She is getting me to write about her album twice.
In concept, the livestream is tedious and dystopian. In practice, it is also that, and yet nevertheless makes for good content—the kind of thing that you can’t quite find the will to hit “close tab” on. Right now, Perry is eating eggs and greens while peering into the camera of an iPad, livestreaming within the livestream. (There have been many such meta instances; earlier, you could watch her watch her own music videos at length.) She announced minutes ago that she was about to set her intention for the day. I find myself unable to look away until she does so.