Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lady Gaga is a ...

cultural studies dream girl!  Gaga is everything we read about twenty years ago that we thought was going to cut the postmodern postcapitalist edge.  And yet Gaga is just bland enough to be Pop.  Pre-prepped for her Paparazzi, Gaga eats up their cameras.  Gaga loves shoes.  She learned to dance.  She dyed her hair.  She changed her name. She changed her nose.  She wrote a song called Show Me Your Teeth.

Her fans are "little monsters". By calling herself a "performance artist", rather than a musician or a recording artist, she's stacked her cards with layers of "significance".
In February, Gaga was "Born this way" at the Grammy ceremony.  She entered the red carpetty area carried on a litter in the royal Cleopatra sense.  Just to spoof on our celebrity-worshipping culture? With her Hussein Chalayan Egg entrance hatch, she emerged, put on a fried egg shaped hat and revealed her pointy reptilian skin-extension shoulders and forehead nubs ((a dash of Hellboy?)).  Soft as a kidglove and yet pointy enough to symbolically poke forth the planned artificial birth.  In orchestrating an origin story, Gaga is furthering the narrative.  She's kicking the ball through the celebrityology capitalist tweetfield goalposts.
Gaga is so "meta".  She is self-reflexive to the point of pointy.  Gaga drinks her coffee with a piece of crystal rock in it.  She is a Transformer, a Lego Bionicle with pre-padded buns. Batman and Robin and Wonder Woman all in one; she cuts softened superhero lines.  A different kind of naughty than Madonna.
The Truth is sexy

She's a Warhol overhaul.  A true "Cyborg": Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs - creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted (see Donna Haraway). Watching her on TV,  my children commented that she has an exoskeleton. Exoskeletons tend toward soft innards and protective shells; hopefully this is her strategy, knowing how to avoid cultural icon tragedies such as this:
 teeth teeth teeth                            show me your teeth
it's not how big, it's how mean
Her new hit hit hit single Born this way and accompanying video, is just another notch in her self-creation belt. And with that eyeball on her chin, she's not going to "take it on the chin".
(Some people think she ripped off the chin eye from a British Sci Fi comedy, The Red Dwarf)
Gaga is an esthetically aware, art hysterical allegory who wrote a thesis on Damien Hirst.  Her savvy hacking of art world treasures and extreme fashion assembles a collage of many before her.  Not manufactured by the big corporate machine, but by her own managerial prowess. 

Her metaphorical and visual fashion ensembles are worthy of Dr. Seuss suits, yet the Lady of Gaga is no naive child.  She utilizes her Sonia Delauney Bauhaus costumes from the 1920s:

When she wears a meat dress and calls it a reference to "Don't ask don't tell", she knows she's brought out Jana Sterbak's (art world) meat dress from 1987.
Gaga knows about Marina Abromovic's long red dress and her yearlong performances. She knows about Gilbert and George whose entire adult lives have been a "living sculpture". But unlike most artists she makes reference to, she is reaching a wide audience.  She's in business, folks.  She quit her day job.  In her planned dream job destiny Just Love yourself and you're set/ I'm on the right track, baby
she's connecting with Oprah and Martha Stewart and beating the Madonnas at her own game. 
From Maya Deren's film: very-eye-of-night
photo montage by Nick Knight,
 It doesn't matter if you love him or capital H.I.M. 
just put your paws up
'Cause you were born this way, baby
Gaga's Born This Way music vid directed by Nick Knight is a tantric, kaleidescope that has seen Maya Deren's "art films" of the 1950s.  By artistically birthing herself in this meta-aware fashion, she shows that she knows that she is a clone from the assembly line of pop culture.  A sci fi burp, a visual invitro construct.  Gaga seems a generous, yet self stoking machine who can actually sing and dance.  According to a newspaper in Broward County, Florida,  she even gets to be the "eternal mother":

"apparently, she rules the universe on a crystal throne and keeps an extra-close watch thanks to an eyeball on her chin." (Arielle Castillo 2/28/11)  Hmmmm ...
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker, 1902
Andy Warhol 1966
Hmmm  .....   what next?


  1. This is wonderful! Thannks for pulling together all these references. It's like a bibliography. I hadn't been paying any attention to the lady's performances. I will now!

  2. What a load of bullshit. She has near to nothing in common with those artists. She dumbs down and sells it to the lowest common denominator with outdated spam music.