The Kult Take: Poppy

Poppy is a singer, songwriter, actress, author, YouTuber, model, and religious leader. That is what Wikipedia tells us, and it is quite a picture painted in just one sentence. She rose to prominence through a prolific YouTube channel full of surreal videos, where she among other things spoke nonsense and bled black sludge from her mouth. Her musical endeavors carried her to stardom, becoming not only a fashion icon but a literally worshiped pop idol through the Cult of Poppy. To look upon her is to look upon a personification of modern culture, of mass consumption and plastic appeal with a veneer of faux authenticity… but she is more. The casual observer might assume that Poppy is a puppet to some of Tiphareph’s servants, or perhaps (if you are truly deluded) an incarnate of the same. This is not only false, but dangerously so. No, the Truth of Poppy’s being and the path she has travelled is much more complex than that… and worrisome. We start from the beginning.

Bubblebath and insanity

In the early days of Poppy’s existence, she was chiefly known for her YouTube channel where she would upload strange and upsetting clips of herself in a featureless room, sometimes featuring props or other characters such as the mannequin Charlotte or a bible. While most of those who found these videos would simply dismiss them as innocuous or stupid, her inner circle of fans were those who could not help but read into the underlying messages. They were there. Poppy’s mad presentation masked a greater whole, and they were intent on finding it. The word spread of some weird, ditzy waif who spoke about the transcendental nature of the internet and fame while mocking the trivial concerns peddled by more mainstream entertainment outlets. Little by little she spread, and though she was definitely unwell and delusional this appealed to niche communities in the corners of the internet. They rallied around her, eagerly waiting for her next revelatory video clip.

She made music, too. Starting with Everybody Wants To Be Poppy, she established herself as a competent artist, if not the revolutionary force she would become. Her first single, Bubblebath, would prove pivotal because through its production Poppy came into contact with the very forces she spoke out against. They sought to control her, keep her a bland bubblegum pop idol and ensure that her fanbase of halfway crazy YouTube commenters returned to whatever lives they had neglected to follow Poppy’s word. This did not work out for either party. For her short while under Island Records’ control, Poppy’s mental state suffered greatly under the demands to conform to what they thought acceptable. She could finally see first-hand Tiphareph’s iron grip on the entertainment industry, all she’d suspected and preached laid bare before her. Poppy soon left the company behind, escaping their ever-present tentacles to alert the public of this corrupted arrangement in a way they could not hope to stop.

Money: Peddling a parodical desire for and attitude about money which tries to be at once appealing and transgressive.

And money doesn’t grow on trees
You can’t just plant a seed
You gotta work it out

Poppy.Computer and mocking the order

Under a record label of her own making, aptly named I’m Poppy Records, she realized her protest against the established order of the entertainment industry as her first album: Poppy.Computer. The album was a resounding success, not only invigorating her loyal fanbase but expanding it, spreading her message. Both her music and especially the accompanying YouTube madness was intent on illustrating both her facade of pop vanity and the darkness lurking just beneath. She spoke a lot about “Them”, the people who supposedly control Poppy. Some believed this aspect of Poppy, not realizing that she worked for herself all along and constructed the entire farce to illustrate others’ twisted arrangements. She was never a member of some music industry conspiracy. Instead, she fought the influence of that ruling shadow elite by presenting their goals and ideals as parodies of themselves. There were voices quick to accuse Poppy of supporting Tiphareph’s cabal, often called the Illuminati, since her videos and live appearances often featured the eye of providence, pyramids, and all those markers which serve to ensnare and enfeeble humanity. The vague symbolism used to keep us asleep was placed front and center so none could doubt its existence.

Poppy’s live shows at this time became a rallying call for her cult, a way to draw strength from numbers and protest the powers that be in a public and outwardly harmless way. From her bright scene surrounded by TVs and pink lights, Poppy made her audience swear loyalty to her word and gave to her most fanatic followers a drink she only referred to as “Poppy juice”. Its contents are still unknown. There was no easy way for Tiphareph’s servants to stop any of this without making themselves known to the world. Between new music and the spread of her Gospel, her first printed religious text, Poppy’s many cults grew to a formidable church in its own right. She offered liberation from the modern world’s net of oppression. Media’s influence and oligarchical control over worldly narratives could finally be opposed and questioned in public, and under the guise of Poppy’s madness the ideas spread quickly. Little by little, she eroded Tiphareph’s grip on her worshippers and took them as her own.

Let’s Make A Video: Vacuity clashes with the hijacked symbolism of the ruling elite to illegitimize their attempts at control.

Get up, put my makeup on, I know it’s time to go
Sing along to a dumb pop song that they play on the radio
Time for a pic, ’cause I’m all dressed up
Don’t make me look too typical
‘Cause I’m ready for my close-up

Am I A Girl? and self-expression

While her previous work challenged the dominance of the Archons within music and entertainment, this cause was but a stepping stone for Poppy. She rose from a small mad soul to become a recognized artist and, though concealed by layers upon layers of irony, a spiritual leader to many. As she did, the more deeply rooted issues plaguing mankind could no longer escape her. Her direct connection to Malkuth or the Rebel’s servants is unclear, but Poppy certainly took it upon herself to wake people up from their slumber. Am I A Girl? is a departure from her previous work, not only in musical genre but in tone and subject matter as well. The song Time Is Up serves as a wakeup call, reminding her listeners that the world is nearing a deadly precipice through climate change and worldwide conflict. Girls In Bikinis and the album’s namesake song Am I A Girl? both toy with ideas of sexualization, gender conflict and a rejection of the binary we’ve been fed since long before our own birth. The album was written to challenge some of humanity’s very basic assumptions about our existence and society, thus directly prodding at the carefully constructed veils of our prison.

It should come as no surprise that this ruffled the feathers of our jailers. Poppy had few defenses, but her enigmatic personality and already surreal interaction with her cult and fans made her difficult to stop. Few knew where she was, yet fewer were willing to reveal it. Any appearances were arranged in secret and often very sudden, public affairs, and little other information ever came out. A lawsuit was hurled her way via a human proxy, attempting to disparage Poppy and tarnish her image. The grip she had on her legion of fans, all too well aware of the Illusion’s machinery and its thousand dangers, were not so easily turned against her, and Poppy rose to become stronger for it. She fought the law and won. The EP Choke continued her descent into outright rebellion, but its lyrical content was even darker than her previous work. Something had changed behind the scenes, but it would take until her next album to learn what had happened.

Am I A Girl?: A protest against the values we assign ourselves and others based on preconceptions about genitalia.

Am I a girl?
Am I a boy?
What does that even mean?
I’m somewhere in between

I Disagree and Poppy’s corruption

There is no doubt that Poppy is done with her positive outlook. I Disagree is not an uplifting album, nor hopeful. The feeling one gets from listening to it is that it is already too late to fix the problems Poppy has spent the last several years trying to highlight. We failed, and all there is left to do is letting it all burn down. She may have been able to avoid the grip of our jailers, but years of pressure from them combined with a rapidly deteriorating global situation has left Poppy unable to continue her message of enlightenment and resistance. Her cult is vast, but is either too inefficient or suppressed to affect the problems plaguing Elysium. Between armed conflicts, oceans full of plastic, increasingly maniacal political discourse and the literal forces of hell come to claim us, Poppy has no more hope to give. While she previously aligned with Malkuth’s ideals, her experiences have corrupted that striving. Poppy has been twisted into the hands of the Death Angel Nahemoth. The result of this dark influence is an album which shames humanity’s hubris and our neglect of ourselves, each other and our situation. Awakening has eluded us. From our doomed struggle comes only Discord.

There is no saying what Poppy may do in the future. Her tours continue, as does her music and YouTube channel, though the former has long lost its former glory. Whatever my Queen has in store, we will have to wait for it. I look forward to it, with a healthy dose of fear.

I Disagree: We have let the wrong people speak for us for far too long. They have led us astray, and all we can do now is watch the world collapse and wonder what comes next.

Down, let it all burn down
Burn it to the ground
We’ll be safe and sound
When it all burns down

I think it should come to no surprise to you, if you have indeed made it down here, that I am a huge fan of Poppy and what she does. This text is of course not a reflection of reality, being a Kult Take on an odd pop star and nothing more. I’ve chosen to leave out a lot, from Mars Argo to Poppy.Church and many other things. Focusing only on her music felt like the most fair way to create a Kult narrative around Poppy without becoming voyeuristic.

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