Kathleen Hanna Slams Katy Perry, Jason Mraz

A couple of weeks ago Kathleen Hanna weighed in on Odd Future, if you remember those guys. The Bikini Kill/Julie Ruin/Le Tigre/riot grrrl icon is continuing to do interviews for the Who Took the Bomp? DVD and an in-progress documentary The Punk Singer so, of course, folks are continuing to toss her questions about contemporary musicians. For instance, here are Hanna’s thoughts on Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Jason Mraz, and the creator of “the wost thing [...] on the face of the Earth.”

CNN: What do you make of singers like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ke$ha who are seemingly touching on themes of gay empowerment in their music, but for some reason it doesn’t quite resonate?

Kathleen Hanna: I mean, is it really that different when it’s a skinny white woman in a bathing suit singing these things? None of these women ever wear pants, first of all. Second of all, just because you’re wearing a goofy hat doesn’t make it performance art. I mean, that’s just my feeling about it. A lot of the music just sounds like bad Euro disco, though that first Ke$ha song “TiK ToK” was good. But (Katy Perry’s) “I Kissed a Girl” was just straight-up offensive. The whole thing is like, I kissed a girl so my boyfriend could masturbate about it later. It’s disgusting. It’s exactly every male fantasy of fake lesbian porn. It’s pathetic. And she’s not a good singer. I don’t want to trash other women. I mean, I think Jason Mraz is horrible. It’s not just like I hate other women performers. Jason Mraz, and the new James Blunt song is the worst thing that has ever been created on the face of the Earth.

Read the rest at CNN.

[Photo of Hanna taken by Alice Wheeler 1993 in Olympia, WA.]

Comments (46)
  1. She is an absolute genius. I just love that Kathleen Hanna and Allison Wolfe seriously don’t give a fuck. They say what they feel and damn right they should because they’re basically always right.

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    • who cares whether she’s relevant; i definitely back what’s being said here. the katy perry brand of lesbian has to be a slap in the face to real lesbians. and wearing a hat made of spaghetti or dead roses or whatever – solely for the purpose of APPEARING edgy but with no articulable artistic meaning behind it – is bullshit fake art in my book, too. i’m not saying that katy perry or gaga aren’t good dancers or performers, and i’ll admit that some of those gaga songs are earworms. but good performance art it ain’t… IMO.

      oh yeah, and i’ve never heard any james blunt except “you’re beautiful,” but that song kinda makes me want to stab myself in the face.

      • I very much agree with the digs at Katy Perry. I mean, Katy Perry herself has actually said that she has never kissed a girl. She just recorded that song because of the “taboo” factor–oh yeah, and because guys think it’s sexy for girls to pretend they’re lesbians.

      • As far as Gaga is concerned, I would have to disagree. I can see where Hanna is coming from if she’s referring to Gaga’s first album, “The Fame,” but since that album Gaga has matured a hell of a lot. The song “Dance in the Dark” is straight-up feminist, as is “Scheise.” She has been confrontational towards people who have bashed her and condescended towards her (and of course propagated the bullshit “She has a dick!” rumor), and her sexuality is honestly more alienating than titulating to most straight guys. Why are her biggest fans all women and gay men?

        Not only that but she has gotten her hands dirty, standing up for gay rights and feminism at every turn–and explicitly, unlike say, Britney Spears, Madonna, Liza Minelli, Elton John, etc. (You know–the old-school gay icons who might hold a fundraiser for AIDs research, imply that they love their gay fans–but not speak up forcefully in favor of actual, legal rights for the LGBT community). It’s true Gaga said around the release of “The Fame” that she was not a feminist–that she worships men–but she has matured a hell of a lot since then. Now, she is an in-your-face sex positive feminist and says so in interviews and on her new album.

        Lady Gaga is a champion for women, men who believe in equality, and the LGBTQA community. I honestly believe you need to re-examine her work and your own misconceptions as well, Kathleen Hanna.

        • ok, well i can see what you’re saying there. i’m really only referring to gaga’s costumes, which i seriously believe are just cobbled together from random crap only for the purpose of being random. sure, wearing a dress made out of raw steaks is weird and all, but what does that say about art, culture, or politics? i’ve never really heard an explanation from anyone. and yet everyone calls it “avant-garde.” shit irks me.

        • @ Derek Dobachesky- “…she has gotten her hands dirty, standing up for gay rights and feminism at every turn, unlike Madonna…” SERIOUSLY? Madonna has focused the bulk of her career on defending homosexuality!

          I honestly believe you need to re-examine that statement you made.

        • She’s still not wearing pants…

    • why is “irrelevant” the latest dismissive buzz-term anyway? it doesn’t mean anything! I mean, relevant to who or what exactly? relevant to mainstream culture? this is an indie music blog, after all. I’m sure her fans find her ‘relevant’.
      It’s like the term ‘FAIL’ as it’s used these days. it’s a quick shorthand way for someone to say they disapprove, but without any thought or consideration.
      get off my lawn, you damn kids!

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  4. People keep getting upset about these things, when really they are just answering the questions they were asked. Anyway, the Gaga dig was funny.

  5. Thanks, Kathleen! (For saying exactly what’s been on my own mind the last several years)

  6. I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what she’s saying here, but Kathleen always comes across as just petulant and mean toward other female artists. Or as she insinuates here, just petulant and mean toward everyone in general. Being an assh*le isn’t being punk and isn’t being a feminist.

    “It’s so easy to laugh
    It’s so easy to hate
    It takes strength to be gentle and kind.”

    • It’s always remarkable to me how much more petulant it comes across when taken out of the original article and used as a snippet though. Like here it comes across almost like she is trying to get attention by being more than willing to answer a pointed question like that (or at least that’s what ran through my head when I read it), while she comes across as less bitchy and pretty awesome (rightfully so) in the full interview (and the interviewer’s question makes a little more sense too).

      Also, Sgum–she’s working on a new Julie Ruin album too. ; )

      • Cute, Kathleen. The interviewer set you up for your childish answers, I’m sure.

        • ?
          I didn’t say I actually thought that was the case, I was merely saying that’s what initially popped into my head when reading the blurb Sgum had pulled out.

          (And I did realize after posting this that I was merely reacting to this one interview, and I haven’t really read enough interviews to know how she normally reacts.)

  7. Thank you, Kathleen, you’re right. They are soulless sucky sucksters and we suck for even acknowledging them as possibly “credible” musicians. We need to draw the line somewhere. Katy Perry, GaGa, and Mraz are names nobody will know in 30 years. At least Hanna supports principles that foster a movement encouraging people who actually have a creative, unique perspective to defy the status quo: very punk, but also very normal and rational.

    • I agree about the comments with Gaga and Katy Perry. But please don’t say somebody doesn’t have “soul” unless you’ve actually heard them live…
      Take a few minutes to watch this:
      and then tell me that Mraz doesn’t pour his soul into his music :)
      Have a great day <3

    • Kathleen Hanna is still a name nobody knows RIGHT NOW. She will one day be a footnote in some feminist article somewhere. Whereas, Lady Gaga (whom I couldn’t give two flying sh!ts about) and Jason Mraz will absolutely still be known for music for decades to come.

      I’m glad Hanna does her thing in support of principles she agrees with… all the power to her.. but Jason Mraz has more talent in his PINKY FINGER than Hanna can muster with all her being. Be outspoken for your values, but don’t trash on other art which you can’t even compare to your own.

      Don’t you like how almost no one is defending the James Blunt thing LolOlOLOLLOloLOLOL???

      • “Lady Gaga and Jason Mraz will absolutely still be known for music for decades to come.”
        Um, you do realize that Kathleen Hanna has been making music for decades, right (first Bikini Kill record came out in 1990)? And that she’s still known for it? I mean, she’s the subject of two in-production documentaries, for God’s sake.

        I live in San Diego, Jason Mraz’s home town, and I am obviously a huge music fan, but I couldn’t tell you the name of a single Mraz song or even the melody or words to one . . . has he ever had a hit? I’ve seen him in car ads and on American Idol but never on anything having to do with music . . . I honestly don’t think you’ll be watching documentaries about his music in 21 years, unless it’s an American Idol documentary or something. I think you greatly overestimate this guy’s talent, either that or you’ve never heard Bikini Kill or Le Tigre (neither one of which I’m a fan of in particular).

        Also, Kathleen Hanna is pretty high up on her high horse about how Gaga and Katy Perry don’t wear pants, when you consider that when Hanna was their age she was just coming off a stint as a stripper in Olympia. I guess maybe she was a meta-stripper?

  8. Calling Courtney Love: Bring fist, fast. Thanks. Love, The Planet.

  9. I love when fake punk rockers (aka pop stars) bash other pop stars…..

    Just cuz she didn’t completely sell out, aside from that piece of shit called TKO, she gets to criticize other artists she doesn’t agree with?

    And to call something “the worst thing that has ever been created on the face of the Earth” after you put your name on TKO……. wow. She’s got balls, I’ll give her that.

  10. Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa > This dumb bitch.

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  12. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  13. Someone asked a question she didn’t take as seriously as all these responses so she just shot off what came to mind without any pretext or agenda. She didn’t write a blog or press release. It’s pointless to praise or damn her as if she’s making a statement. She’s not and she’s not trying to. That said, she’s right, but who cares? In any case, if you’re not down with Bikini Kill, wtf are you doing here?

  14. I actually like Katy Perry because she doesn’t take herself seriously, and she’s kinda funny. And I love Teenage Dream so that’s just me.

    And I have to agree on the James Blunt part. I can’t stand that YOU’REBEAUTIFULOMG!!! song.

  15. Working with Christina Aguilera is just fine, right Kathleen?

  16. Kathleen, you sound like every other pretentious, dumb ass hipster who likes to hate on successful things because it’s whats popular to do. I’m not even a big fan of any of the mentioned artists, but they are artists and you should respect that regardless. If it’s not for you than don’t bother. I hear stuff daily that sounds annoying and cliche, but hey, these people make the effort, they sing and some of them play their instruments pretty well (Jason Mraz). Sure it would be nice to give every underdog a chance in the spotlight, but these people are doing something that is obviously appealing to some people. So suck it. I hate when people make fun of other people’s efforts. Too much negativity. But obviously your comments riled people up. So CONGRATUFUCKINGLATIONS.

  17. im thoroughly offended by the fact that Lady Gaga was just compared to Katy Perry and fucking Ke$ha. Abominable.

    • Lady Gaga fakes art. The craft is real. The art, fake. If she were 2d she would be a bumper sticker. I like the effort though. Its cute. Not edgy, cute. Its edgy for Idol mom’s and bible belt gays. -I’m listening to Shelter From the Storm and watching Octopus Girl with a hangover at 2 am so if I follow it up with a little Judas the sensation is going to seem a little nerfed. She’s going to have to try harder to impress me. Maybe a new hat will help? Jason Mraz should collab. ….But honestly if she really wants to shock me she will have to stop the fist pumping beats for a second and drop some tracks that are geared less towards escapism, that have lyrics that do more than just state the obvious as if it is a revelation (Born This Way). She will bring her audience out of the club and at least attempt to reach the people that are keeping a large part of our society marginalized. And she’ll hop on the front of the motorcycle instead of riding bitch in her videos.

  18. Why can’t another musician have a negative opinion of another artist? Its always some stupid “they want some attention” or “they are jealous of their success” bullshit. Maybe they just don’t like them. And since like us they are human, they may exaggerate for comedic effect. Geez.

  19. Who the fuck cares? jason mraz is underrated by a lot of people because he makes stuff like I’m Yours but as soon as he does a live album he’s awesome. Then again that’s my opinion and it really shouldn’t have any reflection on yours.

    I don’t come to stereogum to hear about random artist opinions on pop music of course they’re gonna hate it….

  20. Kathleen Hanna isn’t perfect, but thats part of what makes her contributions so important. Bikini Kill slashed its way into mainstream consciousness and got significant conversations going about feminism, sexual abuse and self esteem in the face of ‘psychic death’ at a time when women in rock weren’t taken very seriously. still, that wasn’t enough and in julie ruin she even criticized misogyny as its practiced by other feminists. she broadened her content to include social issues beyond personal politic and commented on class and police brutality.
    sure, there was the michigan womyn’s festival… le tigre caught the disfavor of many for signing on to play at a women only festival that barred trans women from attending… i don’t think its possible for a public figure to be infallible. still, kathleen has made an impact on the world for like 20 years, and her opinions are interesting because of the perspective those years and experience have won her.
    I’m not interested in talking about what music is bad, what music is good… the stuff i like to listen to is gothy and noisy and probably considered ‘irrelevant’ by alot of people… what i am interested in and what i would like to see happen is for all the pop music fans out there whose cultural memory only goes back 5 years to become incensed enough by her comments to actually dig a little and learn about the people they bash online… broaden your scope and you might find something that speaks to you.

  21. When’s the last time this chick put waxed those eyebrows and upper lip? DAAAAAAAAAMMMMMN.

  22. She had some good points but I love how as soon as she realized she was talking badly about female artists only, she had to immediately think of some random male artists to bash to make it fair. I don’t know if she meant it that way but it came across like it didn’t matter how bad some female musicians are as long as there are some crappy male musicians too.

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