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