Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Lady Who?: Glamour and the American Identity
You may wonder why I would spend my time writing about a new pop sensation and our American identity? It is a legitimate question with all the inequalities, struggles and violence we face each day that might carry more moral weight than others. But, I think there is value in stopping and discussing what Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta)brings to the American discourse.
We spend our days in the United States staring at some type of screen. We don't really have a choice but to stare at our work computer, our smart phone, our TV or the screen in the grocery isle. These screens carry over 25, 000 images a day to our eyes. Most of them are trying to feed you the idea of your American dream. We have all seen where that fictitious dream got us. In comparison, there is a popular and talented vocalist who is commenting on these lies right underneath the catchy dance beats.
She is about glamour and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in the music/fashion/art industries. I realize all of this. Yet, I believe that Lady Gaga is really teaching us all a lesson. In her 2008 album, titled THE FAME, she used different perspectives critiquing and also obsessing over celebrity. We have seen this motif often in recent history (Madonna, Andy Warhol). The hypocrites of our time: desiring fame and yet loathing at the same time. Some may say that is where we should stop with this conversation. It goes deeper. I think Lady Gaga is actually mocking herself in all of this, through singing about the extremes of what celebrity can be. But, that is what our American identity is about, the extremes of everything. When "the pursuit of happiness" is blurred with the idea of the pursuit of everything at whatever cost. Our pursuit of addiction, materialism, power, being right and losing ourselves in our jobs.
Lady Gaga bleeds for all of us. It is extreme and un-nerving that a Pop Star could actually be showing us a portrayal of ourselves. That is why so many people revolt in disdain for her music, her fashion and her "trying too hard to be different" style. I think it is more than trying to be different. She is just showing us what has stayed the same for centuries. Obsession with anything, kills.