Women and Cake!!!!!
So the other day I happened to come across King Princess' new music video for "Prophet." Her Instagram simply announces 'it's a metaphor'. Struck by the glaring nod to Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman, I immediately posted a chaotic Instagram story proclaiming my discoveries.
After some casual research on the internet, I couldn't seem to find that King Princess intentionally made the video after reading Atwood's classic. However, I would like to discuss the elements of the novel that make this music video hauntingly attractive.
When the music video begins, we are dropped into a high school football field (oddly similar to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me") and King Princess emerges as a football player: shaggy hair, crop top, and all. From the subtle shirt lift to the cheerleader vag shots, to the strange 90s angle cuts, this video screams King Princess' signature gay aesthetic.
Right as we are shown that King and her gal in the stands could be homecoming king and queen, we cut to white business men eating around a table, just as the lyrics announce, "someone's gonna profit." We observe the men eating as King sings to them. Slowly, their faces morph into a pig-like monster. We also see King's arm in a sling, presumably broken from her daytime gig as a football player. The juxtaposition of her nighttime gig with her daytime gig evokes King's other signature move: drag play. Instead of performing as male football player at night, she masquerades as one during the day, allowing herself to be her most vulnerable self at night in front of the consuming men.
We get more 90s cuts between King and her gal as the shot fades out to King--legs lesbian spread--in a very small box. The bridge proclaims, "Oh, no apologies, twisting your word and your prophecies/Oh ooh, and honestly, it's the price of the prodigy wannabe." For the entirety of the bridge we get different angles of King looking like post-Naked Brothers Band Nat Wolff as she's confined by a wood box on bunched up AstroTurf.
As we move into the next chorus, the setting shifts to her second day-time gig, a construction worker who just wants to fit in. In her very nonchalant body language, King pours energy drink powder for the other workers, fitting in with the boys while simultaneously serving them. In the next shot, we see King's gal stirring a similar powder in a mixing bowl, clearly baking something scrumptious up. As her gal slides the baked goods into the oven, the lighting mimics the same red that lit King Princess' box, signaling a sense of confinement and limitation.
Once the oven closes, the next scene leads us to believe that her gal in fact made King into an edible human-sized cake. She wipes King's tears as the pig-like men cut into her cake-body. King sings "it's the price of the prodigy wannabe." The men begin grabbing at the cake (again, similar to T-Swift's "You Need To Calm Down") and her gal fork-feeds King a part of her own body. As the video comes to a close, her gal is buddy-buddy with the other men and we are given a close-up of King's very sad and disturbed eyes.
Like most visual works of art, the metaphors from this video could be functioning on a few levels. What jarred me most was the strikingly creepy cake-body at the end, a similar image conveyed at the end of The Edible Woman.
The 1969 novel follows Marian, a young 20-something door-to-door surveyor who gets engaged to Peter, a boring, materialistic lawyer. The story's plot is pretty simple: they get engaged, her mental health takes a steep decline, and she begins to associate her anxieties and fears with food. As she discusses conventional life and family with her roommate and new English grad student/muse throughout the novel, her fears take extreme control and she practically eats little to no food for the remainder of the novel.
That is, until the conclusion, when Marian realizes Peter is metaphorically consuming her, so she bakes a cake to look like his idealized version of her. At first, he refuses to eat, so she consumes herself. When Peter finally gives in, he finishes it off, enjoying every bit.
Atwood's writing describes an image SO SIMILAR to the image given to us at the end of King's video. Whether that was King's intention or not, this metaphor is transferable between mediums and decades: economic, materialistic consumption forces heteronormative roles on women, specifically queer women, eventually leading to a loss of identity and an acceptance of their projected role in society.
Without sounding too much like a raging feminist, let me break it down.
The men in the music video represent the monstrous patriarchy. King Princess represents herself, a queer woman just trying to love women and make it in the world. Her love interest represents all of those people in the middle--people who appreciate queerness from afar, but ultimately hurt the queer community by climbing the ladder of male achievement.
Like I mentioned earlier, King is no stranger to subversive drag culture. Throughout the music video she is constantly trying to fit in with conventional masculine careers and activities. During the day time, she attempts to fit in, but ultimately can not. On the field, she never gets to actually play, and eventually she is shown singing in a box. At the construction site, she tries to do a favor for the guys but ends up quenching their thirsts instead. Not only is she stuck, but her love interest/gal pal oddly fits into the role of stereotypical dirt boyfriend, or, Marian's Peter in our case. She is constantly observing King from a safe distance, despite her obvious attraction to her.
This unrequited love is exposed when she eventually takes her perceptions of King and bakes them into a very white and flawless cake. Instead of ditching the patriarchal culture of men King is confined within, she turns her back to get on the guys' good side, signaling to King that she should consume the roles culture and society are trying to feed her.
The Edible Woman and "Prophet" operate in similar worlds, exposing economic gain and materialism as the backbone of the patriarchy. Furthermore, both novels portray non-heteronormative women as the object to be consumed within this culture--the delicious cake. What differs between these two stories is that Marian satirically accepts her fate as a cake. Marian is in on the joke. King, on the other hand, is very brokenhearted and left with no agency. Marian is herself, but she is also the cake. King Princess IS the cake. Once they consume her, she is gone, without an identity or appendages.
As sad as it is, this music video is quite relevant to the experience of queer women today. We are out here just trying to love people without getting consumed--be that by men, society, or people who take advantage of us! Anyways, I thought I'd share my excitement about these two works of art that continue to blow my mind.
As an aside, I wrote part of my BA thesis on The Edible Woman and made a cake as part of the process. Yes, I did make my male friends eat it. And yes, I also ate it myself. The taste was so-so. Here's a nice little treat I'm going to leave you with, keeping in theme with cakes and women.