Ed#470: Katy Perry, hear her roar.

27 October 2014 Alan Attwood

Ed#470: Katy Perry, hear her roar.

Twenty years ago, I spent some time in South Africa prior to the country’s first free election, which resulted in Nelson Mandela becoming President. In a township, I visited a proud, dignified woman in a crude house that was impeccably neat. There was no flooring, but the bare earth had recently been swept. A local told me I had to understand that this was an election in which flushing toilets were an issue. Any candidate promising to deliver flushing toilets would win votes. I could believe that, as this was a place where the only source of fresh water was a single tap shared by many, many people. Has anything changed since then? I don’t know – although one of many reasons for increasing disillusionment with the ruling African National Congress party is its inability to deliver all that it promised.

I’m writing this soon after Global Handwashing Day (in mid-October), which, until you look into it, sounds like something to snigger at if you’re pondering the apparent surplus of themed days, weeks and months. Mental Health Week and Anti-Poverty Week have just come and gone; up next is International Brain Tumour Awareness Week, Pink Ribbon Day (for cancer) and then (oh, the horror of all those hairy lips), Movember. But Handwashing Day is especially relevant to where I was in South Africa. Washing with soap and water can prevent the spread of infections that kill millions of people, including children, in developing countries. Here, it’s easy to roll our eyes at something as basic as handwashing. There, in that township without flushing water and a shared tap, soap and clean water are luxuries.

We need to be careful with all those asterisks in the calendar. As much as those recent weeks might have briefly focused attention, especially in the media, on mental health and poverty, shouldn’t these issues be on the agenda throughout the year? And outside that one week in October, is anyone ever actually for poverty? In this publication, we seldom go overboard about dates – not least because weeks are an awkward fit with a magazine on sale for a fortnight. More importantly, mental health and poverty and disadvantage are relevant to us for 52 weeks of the year; not one. Moustaches? Not so much. Though yes, of course, we support more information about men’s health – and not only in November. Which (and how’s this for a segue?) could well be renamed Katy Perry Month.

The American entertainer, whose songs are as catchy as her costumes are colourful, will soon be performingaround Australia, starting in Perth on 7 November. I am not the one to ask for detailed information about her career and back- catalogue. Which is why Clem Bastow, a former Music Editor here, has written our cover story; not me. What could I tell you about Ms Perry? She works hard, which is commendable: her Australian shows are part of a world tour that started in May and will continue well into next year. And she was married, for not terribly long, to Russell Brand – the English comedian with a grating voice who annoys me, then says something provocative and/or sensible that causes me to reconsider my assessment of him. What else is there to say about Katy? Well, she has a lot of fans. Proof of that lies in the millions of records sold and extra shows scheduled around Australia since her tour was first announced.

If even a modest proportion of fans buy this edition because she is featured on the cover, the 30-year-old from California will have done all our vendors a favour. They – and also the special women who package up our subscribers’ magazines – will back any move to institute a Katy Perry month or week or day. Then they will be the ones roaring.

Alan Attwood, Editor

This article appears in #Ed470