Month: July 2010

Lady Gaga: It’s Not Just the “Romance” That’s Bad…


 

Lady Gaga has been topping the mainstream pop music charts for sometime now.  Known for her “theatrics”, she has been compared to performers like Madonna and Queen.  After a while I had to check her videos out and see for myself.  The first one I ever saw was “Just Dance” and must say I did enjoy the beat.  The video included all kinds of random things such as a woman in a Native American headdress, two women sucking down the same piece of spaghetti a la “Lady and the Tramp” style, Lady Gaga taking off her shirt and later humping a blowup toy in a kiddie pool, and a woman hammering down a block of ice.  I wasn’t quite sure what the message of the song was, but was left unsatisfied.  All I saw was yet another hyper-sexualized female pop star.

Next I heard about “Papparazzi” and decided to check out the video.  This one had a storyline, where Lady Gaga is setup by her lover for the paparazzi, and upon her realization of this, she struggles and is thrown to her death by this man.  She survives and the video goes on to show Gaga in a wheelchair, metal crutches, lingerie, and a kissing orgy.  There are also disturbing flashes of sexualized female corpses throughout the song.  The song ends with Lady Gaga in a Minnie Mouse-inspired ensemble, poisoning the man who tried to kill her.

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http://actnormal.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gaga-minnie1.jpg

I was impressed by the revealing look at the celebrity gossip machine, and the surreal and sick relationship between the celebrity, paparazzi, and consumer.  Unfortunately the bad outweighed the good, and I realized I was truly not a Lady Gaga fan.  I could see she was talented, but it was the same female pop singer image that has grown old.  I was sad that her talent was wasted in this way.

Just when I thought I was done, I was sent the video for “Bad Romance.”  After watching the video, I lost all hope in seeing a positive image of this female pop singer, or a video that made sense for that matter.

The video was filled with dancing “monsters”, a doll-eyed Lady Gaga, shots of her naked in the shower with a protruding spinal cord, in a see-through plastic sheath, and crawling across the floor to a group of men.  Eventually she straddles one of the men, singing “You know that I want you.  Cause I’m a freak bitch, baby.”

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/l/lady_gaga/bad_romance.html

Then Gaga sports the Alexander McQueen “Killer Heels”, singing “Walk, walk fashion baby…work it…move that bitch crazy.”

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http://itsfariyall.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/killer-heels-literally/

Finally Gaga dances in lingerie made of red strips of fabric and lace, stands in a thong and polar bear coat, and lays next to her lover’s electrocuted remains after their “bad romance” session.  The only difference was the objectification and murder of a male in the end.

Lady Gaga is another example of what happens when female artists are forced to fit a mold.  The true abilities of this artist are hidden behind shock-factor videos, lyrics, and costume fashions.  After reading interviews, I can see she has a message she wants to send of a powerful woman.  But it is lost through the vision of her record label.  Lady Gaga is like many other female singers before her, trying to work within the male-dominated industry.  Unfortunately the industry heads keep using the same female pop star formula: hyper-feminized and hyper-sexualized looks and lyrics.

As I conveyed my disappointment to my brother, he told me to lookup the following video of Lady Gaga during her NYU days when she was still Stefani Germanotta:

This video gave me chills.  Her voice, lyrics, and music are beautiful, meaningful, deep.  No gimmicks; just straight talent.  I wished that this was the artist that was honed into a future “superstar.”  I wished these songs were recorded and in the mainstream music scene.  I wished the music industry didn’t destroy talent to make a quick buck.  I know many would disagree and say Lady Gaga is who she is because of pop hits, sexed up wardrobe, and shock-factor videos.  And many people eat this up and love it; consuming it as fast as it comes out.  But it is tiring after a while to see this as the sign of success for women in the music industry.  I long for quality music over flashiness.

 

But I digress…luckily the world is also filled with not-so-mainstream music genius.  These artists who get the sound, lyrics, and performance message right make my day…even though I have to search beyond the radio to find them.  I will leave you with this “Bad Romance” parody that also challenges the social construct of femininity, and the idea that it is intrinsically linked to having a vagina.  It’s all about training, baby!  Gotta love Sherry Vine.

 

Thoughts on Friendship and What Matters in Life


 

I have been contemplating the most important things in my life lately (especially today on my birthday), and always come back to one: friendship.  The meaning of this term can be different to each individual.  For some it is a companion for nights out on the town, for others its the best friend they have known since childhood.  It can be the sibling who knows your deepest thoughts, or an ex-lover who never leaves your heart.  We develop our friendships based on where we are in this world.  It starts out in our hometown, where we share memories of tackling the first decades of our lives.  Then we go on to school or work, and meet new people who enter our hearts.  We join activities of interest and add new individuals to the list to learn from and grow with.  And through all the ups and downs of life, certain ones last forever.  While others fade away but leave very important experiences behind.  We should look at these special relationships as opportunities to learn who we are.  Friends listen with empathy, take your side while opening your eyes to other viewpoints, and cherish you for your greatest qualities.  There is nothing like that time spent with friends, enjoying a cup of tea, walking aimlessly around the town, or crying to about the struggles we face.  After our bodies age, our bank accounts empty, and our memories fade, our friends stay there by our side.  They are the true riches that last an eternity.  And when we take our last breath, we imagine how our paths will cross once again, in other lives and dimensions.

Remember to be grateful for the true wealth you have in friendship.  Call those important people in your life, stay connected, and let go when the time has come.  Realize that a friendship is like a growing forest.  Many bonds will be formed and grow, others will die, and all the possibilities in between.  But no anger should be held for the ones that end, because what matters is the time they had with us.  Each one is part of the vast ecosystem of this forest.  It would not be complete without each individual tree, even the ones that fade away.  Because they enrich the soil for new trees to grow, and growth is the cycle of life.

 

As you make those important connections with the ones you love, enjoy this classic Queen song that says it all.  I’ve also included a poem that I have been working on about friendship and what it means to me.  As I start year 27 of my life, I give gratitude for all the amazing people I have met thus far.

 

 

 

Friendship

 

What is this thing they call a friend?

Will they be there ‘til the end?

Some like seasons, I’m told they’ll pass.

Some stay so long, some leave so fast.

And after time, we hold the past.

Wondering if we’re meant to last.

Questioning what it means to love.

Can it only be reached, when we touch?

So far away from my hands.

But memories…I never forget.

 

And those who live closest to home,

become my friends who I tell all.

Teaching me new lessons for my soul.

Different pieces each one holds.

 

Each friend an example of where my feet land.

I gather their love as I travel my path.

Proximity changes everything.

But certain bonds are anchored deep.

 

I moved away, far from home.

And left you there to grow your own.

You were there when I was a child.

And I was there with your first child.

How time has changed; our minds apart.

But the stories remain inside our hearts.

 

I say you’ll be there until the end.

The herstory deep, forever connected.

And even if the bridges wear.

It’s still to you, my soul I bare.

 

Each different friend, sees a different side.

Each different soul, connect differently to mine.

The commonalities are vast and strange.

Some share my strength, some share my pain.

A unique facet revealed to each.

All pieced together, then I’m complete.

So I see the old and new are one.

They make up the whole that I’ve become.

 

7/11/10 —–Preeti Pathak

Eve Ensler on “Embracing Your Inner Girl”


Dear readers, I apologize for my long hiatus.  While attending to personal matters aka life, I fell behind on posting.  But don’t worry, I have a queue of unfinished pieces I hope to publish soon…once the perfectionist in me is satisfied with them.

A friend sent me a video by the amazing Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues.  It is a lecture on “Embracing Your Inner Girl” and outlines the experiences of girls and women around the world.  She uses an interesting concept of “the girl cell”, which she describes as a cell in all of us that displays characteristics such as “compassion, empathy, passionate self, vulnerability, and intensity (Eve Ensler).” She goes on to explain that patriarchy has suppressed these traits, which are fundamental to human survival and functioning.

Her speech is an important reminder of how human traits natural to all of us, are labeled as male or female.  The social decision to gender human traits harms all of us.  If we are unable to express what is naturally inside of us, then we are not fully human.  And this can lead to hardships like the violence that plagues our world.  We see this over and over again in our boys, who are told to suppress their pain, with anger as their only acceptable emotional outlet.  Ensler points out that this emotional suppression has its gravest effects on males who are told to even force down their tears.  She shares a memory during a beating she received from her father, where he warned her not to cry.  She explains how the expression of her emotions would expose the abuse he was inflicting, something he was attempting to deny.  This story, so common for many abuse survivors, reminds us that if we could process our feelings (i.e. anger, sadness) in a healthy manner then maybe we could avoid hurting others.  With all the work that is required to attain emotional health, it’s a shame that any time has to be wasted wondering if you are allowed to even express particular feelings in the first place.

One of my favorite quotes from her speech is, “I actually think that being a girl is so powerful, that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that (Eve Ensler).”  This statement is so profound and deep, that I find myself reflecting on it constantly.  Imagine a world where girls and boys were not suppressed, but free to express their range of feelings.  It’s a world I hope I have the chance to see one day.  I want to leave you with a personal poem that I wrote while trying to deal with my own issues with crying.  I grew up in a family where tears were not allowed, and to this day I struggle to express vital emotions.  Around the same time I watched a great documentary, “Boys to Men?” which was another reminder of the same emotional blocks that one faces just because they are male.  My knowledge and life experience helped to create this piece of writing.  Please enjoy, and spend some time reflecting on the parts of yourself that you deny and try to understand why.  Learning about ourselves is the hardest and most important journey we take in life.  So don’t limit yourself, express what you feel and encourage others to do the same.

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Suppressed Tears

I decided to stop crying a while ago.

I was fed up with sadness so I said no more.

But little did I understand.

You can stunt your emotions, but the mind won’t forget.

Now these tears are all stored up.

Years of sadness…where should it go?

It hurts even more now that I waited.

It fermented over years into the strongest liquor.

And now I feel if I take one drink.

The tears will flow and never end.

I know this is not possible,

but the fear of the unknown keeps my eyes dry.

Then I think of all those boys. Trained from birth to never let go.

Anger the only emotion they can convey – as the patriarchal notions in media say.

Then I think of those grown men, and the end product.

Violence, war, oppressing, suppressed.

And in this moment I realize, that we are lying to ourselves.

We think that we can stop the feelings, emotions, pain.

But only when they are released, can we ever really find peace.

Reliving the past alone won’t help.  But working through it truly can.

We must erase the training received, because when we follow blindly we see the world’s tears.

4/1/10 —–Preeti Pathak