Cynical exploitation of social movements is nothing new for pop artists, but few have done so as brazenly as recently popular female singers. Meghan Trainor, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry come to mind immediately.
First is Meghan Trainor, who’s song “All About that Bass” was a huge success and helped establish her as a positive voice for women pushing back against body-shaming. Unfortunately one of her follow-up singles exposed her cynical exploitation of a social movement for profit. “To my future husband” confirms negative stereotypes of women in relationships and continues to define women based on their relationships to men. This song includes lyrics that attempt to describe her as the necessary winner of every argument and withholding sex for proper treatment.
Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have both exploited the gay rights movement through lyrics that support positive views of homosexuality. In Katy Perry’s case it is especially cynical as she used to be a Christian singer. That is not to say that she can’t change her views, but without any activism or follow through there is a hollowness to professing positive views. The same can be said for Lady Gaga, for whom self-promotion is the only goal.
All of these singers are of course backed by large corporations who certainly (and rightly) only care about profits. It is therefore up to listeners to recognize that instead of a genuine attempt to stand up for women’s and LGBT rights this is a ploy to sell more records.