A man has bullied singer Katy Perry into altering her music video for her song, Dark Horse, so that the video would conform to his religion and religious beliefs. Shazad Iqbal, a resident of the U.K., demanded that Perry remove from her video the image of a man wearing a necklace with a charm that said “Allah” while the man was being burned in a fire. Iqbal took it upon himself to force Perry into changing the video because he decided it was “blasphemous.”
He began a Change.org petition that stated, in part:
Such goes to show, that blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believe and the word God in flames…people from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world, agree that the video promotes blasphemy, using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion.
The petition reached about 65,000 signatures, at which point Perry’s label took the coward’s way out and bowed down to the strong-arming tactics of Iqbal and his religious cronies. This move serves to degrade all art and artistic expression by proving that artists are apparently beholden to the wishes of religious zealots.
The petition had also complained that the video was “controversial.” Perhaps Iqbal does not understand that controversy, dissent and the free exchange of ideas and artistic expression helped to build the United States into the nation it is today; a place where all believers and non-believers have the right to publicly make art without demanding that anyone change their creations to suit the wishes of those who disagree. Otherwise, it’s called censorship.
Censorship, precisely, is what happened when this man bullied Katie Perry into altering her video so that it would conform to his religion and his belief in God. Further, it is extremely hypocritical for any religious person to demand that images which depict the burning of religious symbols be censored when conflicts over religion have caused millions of actual fires, war and mass destruction since the beginning of humankind.
If artists had always let themselves be censored, bullied and pushed around into giving up their artistic expression, the world would have been robbed of thousands or perhaps even millions of works of art, including Michelangelo’s statue of David: Religious zealots at the time threw stones at the statue when it was unveiled because they deemed it to be “immoral,” and yes, “blasphemous.”
It is sometimes the very purpose of art to stir up controversy and to stimulate discussion and new ideas. Shutting down artists like Katy Perry by bullying tactics serves no public good. It is merely a reminder of the evils of censorship, and the danger that comes from bowing down to religious extremists. Had Michelangelo acted like Perry, and allowed his statue to be removed from the public square, the world would have been robbed of one of the greatest pieces of art that exists in the world today. Yes, this man was successful in getting Katy Perry to alter her video to conform to his religion, but the fact that he succeeded is a fact to be feared and abhorred. Censorship is a slippery slope that could easily result in a world devoid of free expression and the creation of the artistic masterpieces that greatly enrich the lives of everyone who witnesses them.
An Editorial By: Rebecca Savastio