KATY PERRY: WILL YOU BE MY WITNESS?: Glossy But Genuine
Will You Be My Witness? proves to be an enjoyable slice of entertainment with a deeper message, suitable for all fans of the pop performer.
Pop sensation Katy Perry launched her fourth studio album in June with a huge marketing scheme. An hour before Will You Be My Witness dropped, the most-followed person on Twitter began streaming on YouTube to countdown the minutes until her latest project arrived in the world. She then allowed the cameras to continue rolling for a further 95 hours, giving birth to Witness World Wide (WWW), described by Perry’s team as part social experiment, part reality show, part talk show and part promotion tool.
Filming took place in the purpose-built Witness World Wide HQ which saw a whole plethora of activities play-out and guests invited in order to enhance the experience and pave way to various discussions and debates. From heartbreaking therapy sessions to themed dinner parties, Perry was joined across the long-weekend by social activists, talents at the top of their field and close personal friends. It was an access-all-areas insight that the world has only previously seen with the likes of Big Brother and its celebrity spin-off – but none of the guests have been of Perry’s caliber before.
A condensed highlight reel
That was all back in June and it was undoubtedly a success, reaching 149 million viewers across the four days, as well as propelling the album to the top of the Billboard Chart. Four months later, Perry and her team have condensed the 96 hours down to a 86-minute highlight reel and gifted us with Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness?, showcasing the highs, the lows, the behind-the-scenes mechanics, general workings and planning stages of such a large-scale undertaking. Perry herself is on hand to guide us through the events with candid discussions and reflections on the livestream (for those who didn’t have 96 consecutive hours to spare back in June).
Think of Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? as a toned-down version of Katy Perry: Part of Me, 2012’s 3D concert movie that threw everything AND the kitchen sink at audiences. We see more restraint with Will You Be My Witness?, as we focus in on a 96-hour promotional rally rather than an extensive world tour – but Perry’s sincerity and candor shines through nonetheless. While unerringly optimistic (Perry’s experienced somewhat of a popularity dip as of late, something which the documentary unsurprisingly glosses over), it’s clear that Perry still has the appeal to reel audiences in, with the positive reception to the campaign.
Creating a safe space
As someone who dipped in and out of the livestream, Will You Be My Witness? is a helpful piece of media. It highlight moments you may have missed (and stops you sitting through 8 hours of Katy Perry sleeping a day). One particular highlight comes in the form of a female empowerment dinner party, featuring actress Anna Kendrick, singer Sia and director Patty Jenkins (just days after the successful opening of Wonder Woman): the group discusses the importance of harnessing their womanhood and bridging divides to conquer. Both the livestream and the documentary encourage a safe space to debate and discuss, politically-charged without ever feeling spoon-fed or false.
It happens, too, with a live therapy session with VICELAND’S Siri Sat Nam Singh, which attracted the most headlines back in June: “I so badly want to be Katheryn Hudson that I don’t want to be Katy Perry” the singer sobs, as she details industry feuds, suicidal feelings and struggles with alcohol. This level of transparency is something few celebrities would be willing to showcase (particularly someone of Perry’s eminence) and would typically play-out behind closes doors. But by displaying her vulnerability and openness for the world to see, assuring audiences that it’s more than okay to talk about your issues in order to heal, we move away from Witness World Wide as a promotional stunt into something truly affecting and encouraging. While the film is first and foremost a promotional documentary, these frank conversations could inspire real change. Surely that makes it all a success.
Further talk in the documentary sees Katy speak of becoming her authentic self; this era has seen the character of Katy Perry evolve away from cream-squirting bras and swearing gummy bears into a more authentic version of herself, Katheryn. Will You Be My Witness? illustrates the vulnerabilities we caught glimpses of throughout Part of Me, all scored to Perry’s varied discography. While that Part of Me special may have been a more entertaining watch, a slice of pop heaven, Will You Be My Witness? feels very much like Perry’s own music, more mature in comparison.
In Conclusion: Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness?
It was Katy’s aim, through the livestream and the documentary, for audiences to recognize themselves in her. With these frank discussion, brutally honest debates and special guests to reinforce proceedings, you get a real sense that she has achieved her goal. It’s her transparency and willingness to begin conversations and recognize her mistakes, during one of the most politically-torn and testing times the world has seen, that makes her one of the most important pop stars out there – using her platform for the greater good.
You would be right in thinking that Will You Be My Witness? is polished within an inch of its life: it frames everything in a way that can only be interpreted as positive, but its merits outweigh is flaws and it provides audiences with insight and a safe space to debate and discuss. Perhaps the livestream was a strictly for-the-fans event, but the re-jigged documentary reduces it into a much more manageable piece of media for passing consumers.
Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? is no doubt a heightened PR poof piece – more so than the insightful livestream was – but for every fan of the “Firework” singer, and those who even remotely like the performer, it proves to be an enjoyable slice of entertainment with a deeper message – be a witness and use your voice for good. It goes beyond looking at Katy Perry or Katheryn Hudson – it considers how you pull off a stunt as ambitious as Witness Worldwide, how pop stars and public figures can (and should) use their platform to encourage conversation and how best to inspire change. Bravo Katy, I’m glad to be your witness.
Will you be Katy Perry’s witness?
Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? is available now on YouTube Red in select regions.
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