What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.
 

Apr. 20 2010 - 1:21 am | 34,164 views | 2 recommendations | 91 comments

Aladdin Sane Called. He Wants His Lightning Bolt Back: On Lady Gaga

“How not dumb is Gaga?,” asked the New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, in the first flush of Gagamania. Almost exactly a year later, his question still furrows the American brow. Okay, I’ll bite: Not? As in: Not in the least not dumb?

After a close study of Frere-Jones’s 2009 apologia for Our Lady of Perpetual Pantlessness, I still can’t help but read his headline as Protesting Too Much. I know it’s a textbook example of what grammar geeks like to call litotes, a figure of speech in which an affirmative is expressed through the negation of its opposite, but since litotes is used to drily funny effect, as ironic understatement (as in: “Lady Gaga is not unintelligent”), the headline makes it sound as if Frere-Jones is Damning with Faint Praise. Reading it, I was suddenly reminded of an avant-garde composer I once knew, a hyper-cerebral Vulcan whose veins ran with antifreeze. When I asked him, in an interview, about some  diva on the downtown-music scene, he paused for effect, a predatory twinkle in his eye. Then came the headsman’s blow, delivered with undisguised relish: “Not overly burdened with intellect.”

Which is to say, not not dumb.

Most of the comment-thread flame wars between Gaga’s Kiss Army of “little monsters,” as the Lady calls her devout fans, and her no less devout haters are ignited by the Great Debate: Is she a rarified being who has more talent in her clitoral hood than you can even dream of, little man? Whose Art for Art’s Sake raptures us out of our stonewashed lives, into a disco ball-flecked Bubble World, a Studio 54 in the Sky where gay teens, pillow-biting scenery-chewing* emo boys,  and high-school weirdos are waved into the VIP lounge while all the Mean Girls and haters mill outside, crazed with envy? Or is she just some Tisch drop-out who watched Grease one too many times, pickled her brain in  Britney, and now thinks she’s some cross between Madonna and Leigh Bowery, just because she forgets to wear pants and name-checks The Night Porter (Sontag’s “Fascinating Fascism” for people who don’t read)? In other words, is Lady Gaga the last, best hope for pop smart enough to beat the Society of the Spectacle at its own game, sell out with a shamelessness that would shock the pants off her patron saints (Warhol and Dali, who perfected the complimentary notions of self as brand and art as marketing) and still snooker a generation of cultural-studies profs and nth-wave feminists into a deconstructive swoon about her Judith Butler-approved gender performativity? Or is she something thuddingly dumber: Donatella Versace in the remake of Blow-Up? Liza Minelli in a Vegas revue inspired by The Reluctant Astronaut? Perez Hilton sings the Human League songbook? Is she pop, or Pop Art? In on the joke, or just a joke?

*(Author’s Note, added May 17: My use, above, of the expression “pillow-biting,” in the throwaway line “pillow-biting emo biters,” turned out to be a gift to rabid Gagaphiles everywhere—proof positive of the homophobia that, in their eyes, lurks just beneath the surface of my critique of The Lady. Initially, I was baffled by their response. As I wrote in the comment thread below, “the modifier ‘pillow-biting’ is a funny way of saying ‘melodramatic,’” an adjective adequately earned, in my opinion, by the neurasthenic shut-ins known as emo boys. Then I stumbled on a blogger who turned the volume of the charge up to 11, ranting, “anyone who thinks that ‘pillow biting’ is a valid insult in the year 2010 is a homophobic asshole who can FUCK RIGHT OFF.” The vociferousness of the post, and the gravity of the charge (which I take seriously) sent me to UrbanDictionary.com, where I learned that “pillow-biter” is a derogatory slang term for an effeminate gay male, “likely inspired by the notion that a [submissive] male engaged in anal sex would be face-down into a pillow, biting into it.” Naturally, I was aghast. Color me generationally clueless, too hetero to be believed, or idiomatically challenged, but I simply never knew. I’d pulled the phrase out of thin air, vaguely aware I’d heard it somewhere, and thinking it was a synonym for “scenery-chewing” or “carpet-chewing,” meaning: melodramatically over-the-top; ridiculously emotional. In fact, it’s a hateful phrase, which is why I’ve crossed it out here, and will go and sin no more. Not that the scenery-chewing wing of Gaga fandom will be persuaded that I’m not homophobic, as opposed to not not homophobic.)

One thing is certain: much of the hair-pulling about the goggle-eyed vacuity of her music, the self-consciously Warholian Inauthenticity of her persona, her Barbarella-from-Jersey Shore get-ups, and her unashamedly derivative career moves and media poses is really, deep down, a debate about how not dumb—or not not dumb—she is.

Evidence for the prosecution begins with the name, lifted from one of Queen’s ditziest tunes: “Radio Ga Ga.” Gaga, as in: “Excessively and foolishly enthusiastic: The public went gaga over the new fashions.” Or: “Completely absorbed, infatuated, or excited: They were gaga over the rock group’s new album.” The word’s rattlebrained connotations aren’t helpful. Nor is Gaga’s mouth-breather gape, which combined with her slight overbite gives her a vaguely dumbfounded look. She looks permanently agog, like Paris Hilton after a ministroke.

Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance" video; all rights reserved.

And then there’s the music. Color me rockist, but there is something profoundly, throbbingly dumb about Gaga’s music, an exuberant stupidity that wants to vogue its way into our hearts but makes our minds throw up a little.

Listen to the best songs by her cited influences—Bowie, Queen, Grace Jones—and you’ll hear, beneath the virally unforgettable melodies, a percolating intelligence that isn’t just a musical sophistication but is equally a cultural literacy. Listen to Gaga and you’ll hear the sound of IQ points molting.

Consider “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” from Queen II, an object lesson in the cultural distance between 1974 and now—and between genius and Gaga. In two and a half glorious minutes, Freddie Mercury reminds us, as all great Aesthetes do, that nothing succeeds like excess: laser-sharp harmonies by robo-seraphim, heavy-breathing glam-metal harpsichord that sounds like Scarlatti shtupping Liberace, guitarist Brian May doing Paganini impersonations, and a gong to top things off. (The only thing missing is the ritual sacrifice of an underage hermaphrodite, naked and gilded in gold leaf. And Freddie was just getting to that when management pulled the plug, citing cost overruns.)

But the music is just the movie soundtrack for the lyrics, which narrate a slow, close-up pan across the titular subject, the Victorian madman Richard Dadd’s obsessively detailed, almost anamorphically distorted painting of a fairy revel. There’s the  “politician with senatorial pipe,” and the “pedagogue squinting,” who “wears a frown,” and a “tatterdemalion and a junketer,” “a thief and a dragonfly trumpeter,” a satyr peering naughtily under a lady’s gown. It’s all there, rendered with miniaturist precision, right down to “Oberon and Titania watched by a harridan/ Mab is the queen and there’s a good apothecary-man/ come to say hello/ fairy dandy tickling the fancy of his lady friend/ the nymph in yellow/ what a quaere fellow/ the ostler stares with hands on his knees/ come on, mister feller, crack it open if you please…”

In the radio-mandated two and a half minutes, Freddie gave his listeners a whiff of Shakespeare, an introduction to what would now be called Outsider art, and some brain-stretchingly arcane vocabulary words. (Queen Builds Word Power!) Gaga gives us “rah-rah-ah-ah-ah! Rom-mah-rom-mum-mah! GaGa-oo-la-la!” (“Bad Romance”) and “Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh/ I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got/ Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh…” How many electro-disco divas does it take to screw in an ostler? How many could define “harridan” or “junketer,” much less weave those words into a narrative rich in literary allusions, historical memory, descriptive detail?

Speaking of which, how many dance-pop singers can tell a story about anything other than themselves? Freddie teleported high-school pariahs languishing in ’70s suburbia into the aesthetic otherworld of the Yellow Book Decadents and the Bloomsbury scene, a Bubble World of escapist Victoriana to be explored more deeply if you were an intellectually omnivorous library rat. Gaga is the poet laureate of the supremely banal: porntastic fantasies about riding your disco stick and bluffin’ with my muffin, “getting shit wrecked,” dry-humping under the disco ball, dreaming of fame, becoming famous, world-wearily lamenting the Faustian bargain of—yawn—fame, and popping a wide-on worthy of the Sex and the City crew over “Louis, Dolce Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, eh ou,” and of course Manolo.

If you’re a devout Gagaphile and, improbably, have made it this far, let me channel what you’re thinking, right about now: as a Person of a Certain Age, and, even more unconscionably, a more or less heteronormative male, I’m incapable of appreciating the gifts of a neo-disco diva whose target audience is—I’m guessing, here—girls eight to 18 (the Gossip Girl/Sex and the City demographic) and gays who like Madonna. I should be femdom’d by the Lady, then thrown to the tender mercies of the butch-est of the Caged Heat babes in Gaga’s Telephone video. I’m guilty of rockism, that unbecoming affliction that causes middle-aged, strenuously straight white guys like David Brooks to subject us, periodically, to a column’s worth of mawkish, rheumy eyed cornpone about the irony-free pleasures of the real Bruce Almighty (Springsteen, of course), and how it ain’t no sin to be—sob—glad you’re alive, goddammit. (Brooks quotes Springsteen rhapsodist Jon Laundau approvingly: “There is no sarcasm in his writing, and not a lot of irony.” I knew there was a reason I couldn’t stand any Springsteen album but Nebraska, despite the better angels of my political correctness, nagging me—lapsed Marxist that I am—to join the Boss Cult. How can an American artist understand the darkness that’s always there, on the edge of Disney’s Mainstreet, U.S.A., without recourse to irony? Twain knew that. Mencken knew it. Burroughs knew it in his bones. David Lynch is all about it, in his inimitably Zen Eagle Scout way. It’s Springsteen’s excruciating earnestness that makes most of his records unlistenable. Okay, that and those goddamned sleighbells.)

“Rockism means idolizing the authentic old legend (or underground hero) while mocking the latest pop star; lionizing punk while barely tolerating disco; loving the live show and hating the music video; extolling the growling performer while hating the lip-syncher,” Kelefa Sanneh writes, in his essay “The Rap Against Rockism.” Worse yet, he argues, rockism may be a stalking horse for “ older, more familiar prejudices,” asking, “The pop star, the disco diva, the lip-syncher, the ‘awesomely bad’ hit maker: could it really be a coincidence that rockist complaints often pit straight white men against the rest of the world? Like the anti-disco backlash of 25 years ago, the current rockist consensus seems to reflect not just an idea of how music should be made but also an idea about who should be making it.”

Actually, Richard Dyer got there long before Sanneh, in his canonical 1979 essay “In Defense of Disco.” A gay lefty, Dyer isn’t buying the Frankfurt Marxist dismissal of consumer culture’s throwaway pleasures as just so many weapons of mass distraction. “The anarchy of capitalism throws up commodities that an oppressed group can take up and use to cobble together its own culture,” he writes. “In this respect, disco is very much like another profoundly ambiguous aspect of male gay culture, camp. It is a ‘contrary’ use of what the dominant culture provides, it is important in forming a gay identity, and it has subversive potential as well as reactionary implications.”

True that. Yes, we’re all lost in the supermarket of commodity culture, and yes, there are pockets of subcultural resistance lurking here and there; the alchemy of audience appropriation can transmute even the most banal or brain-dead pop flotsam into something rich and strange. For all I know, bedroom-wall shrines to Gaga, all over America, are serving as screens for the projection of empowering fantasies by teenage weirdos who will grow up to remake pop in their own, even weirder images.  And yes, much of rockism’s “Disco Sucks!” contempt for dance-pop’s brazen “inauthenticity”—the cyborgian bloodlessness of its machine-driven beats and electro-zap hooks, more sound effect than melody; the “talentlessness” of its button-pushing producers; its social role as the soundtrack of anonymous, drug-wrecked sex in nightclub bathrooms—is often shorthand for homophobia or racism, since disco, ever since it caught the white mainstream’s ear in the 1970s, has been associated with the gays, blacks, and Latinos who created it and consume it. For good measure, Gaga defenders might point out racism inherent in reviewers’ stereotyping of the Lady as a skeezy “guidette”—a grenade she catches and lobs back at us in the video for “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else Can I Say),” which features her vamping on a Vespa in front of a bodega called Guido’s Meat Market.

All of those points being readily granted, I still say it’s disco, and I say the hell with it. It’s an error of logic to argue that, simply because some male-menopausal rockists think Gaga is the unholy progeny of Kim Kardashian and Klaus Nomi (a record I’d buy in a heartbeat, by the way), they must be criminally clueless, if not homo-negro-Latino-Italo-phobic,  and Gaga must be the best thing to happen to pop music since Bowie had his nipples rotated. She isn’t, at least not musically. Her songs manage the impossible feat of making craptastic New Romantic clotheshorses like Visage sound inspired.Yes, she’s more than modestly gifted as a singer and pianist, but until her music sheds its Madonna-isms and lives up to the mind-shriveling weirdness of her most demented video moments, I mean, who gives a disco stick, really?

Frere-Jones thinks Gaga isn’t dumb because she “opines in public about whether a certain shade of red is ‘Communist’ and has dropped Rilke’s name more than once,” and, uh, because “‘Just Dance’ is about being drunk in a club, which is a great idea, because songs for drunk people in clubs are rarely sharp enough to be so obvious: a lot gets lost in the quest for the clever.” Right, that’s what’s blighting the bumper crop of pop songs about getting shitfaced: too much cleverness. In his Slate essay “How Smart is Lady Gaga?” (also from last year), Jonah Weiner thinks Gaga may be brighter than we know because “she sprinkles her interviews with references to Warhol’s ‘deeply shallow’ aphorism, David Bowie, Leigh Bowery,” and she’s a master/mistress of “gender sabotage,” equal parts Judith Butler and Lady Bunny, as well as “an exquisite horror” who makes American manhood’s ball sac retract by coming on like some Weimar kewpie doll on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Loading...

Talk about defining deviancy down. What beige days we live in, when mentioning Rilke, Warhol, and David Bowie are proof positive of edgy intelligence. Rilke isn’t exactly obscure, and Warhol and Bowie are two of the best-known brands in pop history. Gaga isn’t all that weird, despite her revisionist accounts of growing up feeling “like a freak,” as she told Barbara Walters. Can we get some context, here? Performance artist Leigh Bowery giving himself an enema, onstage, and hosing the front rows at one of his performances with an anal geyser is weird. Painter and curiosa collector Joe Coleman adopting a pickled anencephalic fetus as his son and naming it Junior is weird. Faking your own hanging at the Video Music Awards because you “feel that if I can show my demise artistically to the public, I can somehow cure my own legend” isn’t weird; it’s a time-tested career strategy, straight out of the shock-rock playbook. In his fame-crazed Ziggy days, Bowie worried—in a stage whisper, with all the eager microphones leaning in—about being assassinated onstage and, alternately, fantasizing about what it would do for his career. And the staged hanging was vintage Alice Cooper. Of course, we all know where Alice ended up: playing golf with Bob Hope.

Of course, Gaga, like Cooper or Bowie, isn’t a genuine Outsider, in the Henry Darger sense of the word. Like both, she markets deviance to Middle America, making true transgression safe for prime time (while simultaneously gene-splicing a little mutant culture into the mainstream) and, oh yeah, getting richer than God in the process. Which is why she’s already justifying her love of the louche to Barbara Walters, earnestly removing her dark glasses and telling Walters she loved her.  Babs returned the favor by observing, after the fact, that Gaga impressed her as “quite intelligent,” an impression that may or may not have been cemented by the Lady’s choice of what Walters called a “very serious” Chanel suit, befitting an audience with America’s Mother Confessor.

I asked the music critic Simon Reynolds to situate Gaga’s mega-hyped “weirdness” within pop-music history, specifically the glam rock of the ’70s—a tradition her consciously aligns herself with, through her frequent invocations of Bowie, Mercury, and T. Rex.

“All the ideas are a bit familiar,” says Reynolds. “It’s not like this particular iteration of glam is coming in reaction to a period of dowdiness (as with the original glam reacting against blues-bore bands and drab hippies). In fact, it’s coming after a period of lowercase-g glamor that’s being going on since grunge, really. It’s been one long era of bling rap, glitzy R&B/Beyonce-type fabulousness,  slick boy bands and girl bands, American Idol pop. Music that’s totally about dazzle and  theater and choreography and costumes and dance routines. Every year, the Video Music Awards is more and more showbizzy—Pink did her song on a trapeze! And then she topped herself at the Grammies with pure Las Vegas/Cirque du Soleil-type acrobatics, spinning on a vertical wire thing that I can’t even describe.

“Even the weird-glamor/arty artifice Gaga’s about is all very familiar, after Leigh Bowery (’80s) and Alexander McQueen and Marilyn Manson (’90s) and Fischerspooner (early Noughties). It doesn’t have the same impact. The one thing she did that really entertained me and that did have a frisson was the whole escapade with the plastic penis, is she a hermaphrodite, etc.

“The original [glam-rock movement] was very much using artifice and ambisexuality and aristocracy as subversion within rock culture, which at that time was very much on a populist/authenticity/songs-more-important-than-image tip. [Glam] was a dialectical move within rock culture. Gaga’s glam is signifying in a context where pop is already all about artifice, fantasy, aristocracy/bling, and certainly the gender-bendery [thing] doesn’t set off any great shock waves.”

The retro-pomo angle on Gaga—that she is a self-conscious signifier, a performance artist whose real virtuoso talent lies in constructing and deconstructing her public image—may seem sharp as a tack to undergrads who crib their Baudrillard from The Matrix, but we’ve been there before. “Without any solid or ‘real’ self, her identity becomes whatever it needs to be, immune to the toxic shock of the incoming century, fully geared up to party in the ruins,” writes Jason Louv, in his demurely titled essay, “Lady Gaga & The Dead Planet Grotesque.” Tell it to the French academic Georges-Claude Guilbert, the author of the not at all overreachingly titled Madonna As Postmodern Myth: How One Star’s Self-Construction Rewrites Sex, Gender, Hollywood and the American Dream. According to the book’s Amazon blurb, Guilbert “examines how Madonna methodically discovered and constructed herself…It also details the way in which she organized her own cult (borrowing from the gay community)…and cunningly targeted different audiences.” Sound familiar? Boundary dissolution, the decentered self, the Body Without Organs: it’s  ’80s’ Semiotext(e) theory, stuck on iPod shuffle. “Andy Warhol, silver screen/can’t tell them apart at all” (David Bowie, “Andy Warhol”). “Is it any wonder that she’s provoked the response she has, both adulation and hatred?” Louv wonders. “She’s the first non-boring thing to happen in pop music for almost fifteen years.”

Actually, not. What’s so non-boring about a dance-pop diva who lifts her platinum hair and dark eyebrows from Who’s That Girl?-era Madonna and her backing tracks from the Human League? About confining your outrageousness to your image while ensuring that your music is safe as milk? About wearing Bauhausian bondage gear that makes you look like Oskar Schlemmer’s idea of Boogie Nights but thinking thoughts that a pickled walnut would think, if it could? “I write about what I know: sex, pornography, art, fame obsession, drugs, and alcohol,” Gaga told an Elle interviewer.” Oh, groan. “I never heard so many kids talk about just doing anything to be famous,” lamented Gaga’s household deity, David Bowie, in a 2003 interview. “I mean, yeah, fame is part of the deal when you’re a kid and you think, I wanna go into music, but everybody that I knew was really doing it because of their love for it. I don’t see so much of that anymore; it’s like, ‘What should I say so that I can be famous?’ It’s like the tail wagging the dog, but music’s just so accessible and given to us in such awful ways now.  It’s been devalued tremendously.”

All that said, the “Bad Romance” video shows real promise. The eyeglasses made of razorblades; the gnarled, spastic hand gestures; the mannequin-like dancers in vinyl toques; the wedding dress with the bearskin rug for a train (complete with snarling head); Gaga in bed with the charred remains of her lover, her flamethrowing bra presumably having char-broiled him in flagrante delicto: it’s Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, as reimagined by Matthew Barney.  If Gaga can wean herself from the “deeply shallow” referentiality of Artistic Statements like the “Telephone” video, which channels Quentin Tarantino channeling Caged Heat, and start to think, really think, about her references, rather than just peeling them loose from their cultural contexts and dropping them, plop!, and watching the semiotic ripples spread out, she’ll be truly non-boring. Reading a Deeply Silly commentary on the “Telephone” video by “Gaga blogger and doctoral student Meghan Vicks,” who wheels out the obligatory reference to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish to Explain It All For Us, I’m reminded of a lazy afternoon in L.A., sometime in the ’80s, listening to a masseuse to the stars telling me she’d seen Madonna carrying a copy of Foucault’s book in her purse to certify her scandalousness. Apparently, my friend chuckled, the poor dear was under the impression—never having read the damned thing—that it was a bondage manual.

If Gaga learns that thinking is the most dangerous act of all, she’ll really be one scary monster.


Comments

Active Conversation
17 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 91 Total Comments
Post your comment »
 
  1. collapse expand

    Hard to imagine such a talented satirist being stupid. She may be smart enough to PLAY stupid; Larry the Cable Guy (I’ve forgotten his real name) does it all the time.

  2. collapse expand

    Brilliant and thorough analysis.

    My take was a little simpler, tho…. the music is just BAD. BAAAADDDDD.

    Amy Winehouse might be a little cookie-cutter in the Motown production department, but comparatively speaking, she’s a whole rainbow compared to Gaga – who is 3 melted crayons at best.

    I have found myself listening on at least 5 occasions, and thinking “Wow – I really don’t get this.”

    ‘Cause it’s BAD.

    :)

  3. collapse expand

    Is she a rarified being who has more talent in her clitoral hood than you can even dream of, little man?

    nice.

    Gaga’s the end of the performing arts. A Miley Virus for the club nerd set.

  4. collapse expand

    My take – Lady Gaga is not dumb. She may not be intellectual, but that’s because of her age, not her intelligence. How many 20-somethings would clear your bar?

    Face it, if you’re going to Tisch and you have real talent, you DO drop out. Why stay in school when your number is called? You can always go back to school when the ride is over.

    My completely uninformed speculation: She knows her schtick has a shelf life. She’s in year 3 of a 5-year plan, she’ll manage her money and fame well, and whatever happens after she’ll be set.

    That’s smart, in my book.

    • collapse expand

      Maybe “smart” here means “thinking like a pragmatic businesswoman.” Fine — we can make equally uninformed speculations about any number of young female starlets. (Is it too much to speculate that Paris Hilton has a long-term plan for managing her fame?)

      Mark’s definition of “smart,” I’d argue, is a little different: read the passage on Freddy Mercury’s lyrical capability and you’ll see a much different kind of “smart” at play. And really, is it too much to ask that an intelligent 24 year old whose career is based on palatably avant-garde neo-disco KNOW something about that genre? That she know Warhol’s ideas are decades old? That doesn’t seem like a terribly high bar for a professional performer in this genre.

      If her “smart” is synonymous with “deftly managing her public image,” then it seems fair to call that, in 2010(!), boring.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        “Boring” it may be. Personally, that’s my take on her music. But what do I know? I’m an old fuddy-duddy. These kids and their music today! Get off my lawn and let me listen to my 40-year-old Peter Wolf music in peace!

        I’ll tell you what I find boring – music criticism. (No offense intended to our host – I am here in a music criticism thread after all.)

        Don’t talk about music… DO music. Or LISTEN to music. And if you’re bored with the music you’re hearing, find something else to listen to. That’s what’s interesting.

        But she’s laughing all the way to the bank. (Oh, and Paris Hilton didn’t have to worry about money and fame from the moment she popped out of the womb.)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Point taken about her tender age, although Bowie was 24 when he released the incomparable HUNKY DORY, which includes songs such as “Quicksand,” a jewelbox masterpieces that packs references to Buddhism, Nietzsche’s theology of the Overman, Aleister Crowley, the hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, and Nazi occultism into a few minutes. Oh, and the music is exquisite, of course. Around the same age, Brian Eno was already rewiring pop music as we know it by applying Cagean ideas to Roxy Music. And so on. No, we can’t all be Mozart, but I think we cut Gaga (and the larger culture, in the process) too much slack when we let her off the critical hook because she’s a 20-something.
      However, I like the distinction between intellectualism and smartness implied in your comment that she may not be an egghead but she’s no pinhead. Like her mentor, Madonna, she’s got a deeply intuitive lock on at least one subsection of the GOSSIP GIRL-SEX AND THE CITY demographic and, like Madonna, has shrewdly crossed over to gay fandom as well. She knows how to work a room and the camera loves her; long may she wave. I really, truly don’t wish her ill, although you’d think I’d accused Elie Wiesel of Holocaust denial, from some of the comments in this thread. I sincerely hope she ends up swan-diving, like Scrooge McDuck, into a swimming pool full of gold coins. I’m simply arguing that her musical mind, at least as evinced by her music so far, is a Mojave. But maybe, as you suggest and I speculate, in my essay, it will catch up to the sophistication of her best video moments, and her wonderfully bent sartorial imagination, some day soon. We can dream, can’t we?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    David Lynch as Zen Eagle Scout: purrfect.

    Reading the first couple of comments, it strikes me as worthwhile to clarify between Lady Gaga and “Lady Gaga.” Saying Lady Gaga (an embodied person) dumb is different from calling “Lady Gaga” (the persona/event?) dumb. It seems difficult to speculate on the intelligence of Lady Gaga (the blankness behind the mask), especially when her peppering conversation with references to Rilke and Warhol could signify:

    1.) A genuinely held belief that these are avant-garde and/or intellectual touchstones.
    2.) A second-order belief that her audience (Barbara Walters, The New Yorker(?!)) will consider these avant-garde and/or intellectual touchstones*. Giving the audience what it wants; performance of quasi-intellectual outsiderdom, etc.
    3.) A combination of the two, and probably a few other options.

    Without trying to read behind the mask, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to label “Lady Gaga” (the phenomenon) dumb, in the sense of being derivatively “weird” and intellectually posturing. As the last section of Mark’s article points out, she’s weird in an easily digestible way. Weird, but not weird enough to be interesting.

    *which seems a scathingly cynical perspective on America’s chattering classes. Kudos.

  6. collapse expand

    After watching the meteoric rise of Lady Gaga and everything in between I have come to the conclusion that she is a very smart person. There are many ways to measure intelligence. I used my instincts as my gauge with Gaga. She knows what she wants, how to get it, is getting it, and continues to work hard to keep it. She has dominated the music scene in her current state of flux, selling out stadiums worldwide. She has captured the imagination of so many including myself to the point that I’d seriously love to be her best friend. She doesn’t scare me, doesn’t disgust me. Just the opposite. I’m what you would call a fairly intelligent, hetero non hating male. I think what she is doing with her fame is phenomenal and would love to be an insider and go along for the ride.

  7. collapse expand

    Is it not the record industry that has changed since the 70’s? If Gaga came to higher-ups with lyrics that used words they needed to look up in a dictionary to understand, wouldn’t they tell her to water it down? or just do it themselves?
    You could make these same comparisons for any music that makes it into the “mainstream” now as opposed to music from “back in the day”- it’s not just Lady Gaga.
    David Bowie can reminisce all he wants, but to become a “David Bowie” today takes a solid business plan more than it does talent. At least Lady Gaga is honest about her intentions-she’s “doing it for the fame” and she’s spending some time sticking up for the marginalized while she’s at it.
    I think she’s smart. She’s smart enough to make people wonder about her for longer than her first 5 minutes on the scene. What else matter for the famous these days?
    And the whole “faking dumb” thing really only works for women- men aren’t supposed to be able to understand the strength (or intellgence) in it.

    • collapse expand

      Excellent point about the plate-tectonic shifts in the musical landscape since Bowie’s Golden Years. The frenzy of product placement in pop videos, and the previously unimaginable fact that some stars can only expose themselves to the mass audience via commercials, is ample evidence of such changes, I think. Also, if you’re saying that female stars are more likely to be asked to dumb down their work, an interesting argument. But the NEW YORK cover story suggests that Gaga turned to neo-disco in desperation, when her Led Zep-inspired rockclub act wasn’t getting any traction. In other words, it was her decision, not some stogie-chewing A&R man’s. Besides, as a producer quoted in the story (I’m quoting from memory; I believe it was a producer, but may be having a Senior Moment), “Disco is so easy.” I can’t agree that Gaga is “honest about her intentions.” On the contrary, juxtaposing her interview comments is like listening in on a squabble between Cheng and Eng. Here, she’s coming on all Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol, playing the cynical careerist and media manipulator; there, she sounds like some glorpy hippie—Yoko Ono in STARPEACE mode—maundering on about wanting to Spread the Love, et. al. She can’t be a Deeply Meaningful Artist Who Wants to Pour Oil on the Ruffled Souls of Her Little Monsters *and* be a Performance Artist Who Boldly Goes Where No Flaming Creature Has Gone Before *and* be an Unabashed Sell-Out so Crassly Careerist She Makes Late-Period Salvador Dali look like Frida Kahlo.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    Mr. Dery,

    It seems to me that Lady Gaga wants to have it both ways. To the simple, she is glamorous, to sophisticate she is ironic. The gullible think that she embodies everything worthy of celebrating while the worldly finder a wit parodying the life celebrity. Even those who hate her help her, hatred is attention and attention is success.

    Only those who ignore her are her enemies and who are they?

  9. collapse expand

    So, the prosecution has her name, which she chose, and her general demeanor, which is described in a very subjective way. I always thought of her as deliberately aloof, not a “mouthbreather”. Not that one’s more correct than the otherm but I would challenge Dery reflect on why he sees her as “dumbfounded”, to make sure that he’s not just reciting ingrained stereotupes about “dumb blondes”.

    Then Dery compares her music to one of Queen’s more obscure songs. Just because Gaga is influenced by Queen, doesn’t mean she has the same objectives for her music. Last I checked, Gaga’s music wasn’t about giving music critics orgasms. It was about being insanely popular. Which she has succeeded at.

    Apparently Gaga’s music doesn’t measure up because, ZOMG! She uses vocal riffs! Isn’t that a well-established convention for singers?

    No one ever said that Gaga’s lyrics have to be the most brilliantly artistic of the last 50 years. “Love Game” is pretty silly, and the fact that she didn’t even try to rhyme the lyrics of “Telephone” was kind of annoying. On the other hand, she’s written some pretty darn good lyrics too.

    The first verse of “Poker Face” is very clever. “Bad Romance” is evocative, from the “From Here to Eternity” meets fetishist imagery of “I want your leather-studded kiss in the sand”; to the refrain: “I want your love/ and I want your revenge/ I want your love/ I don’t wanna be friends” which is so simple, but conveys the complicated emotions of a person in a messed up relationship, with complex desires in a powerful, effective way.

    “Disco stick” and “muffin” aren’t valid points of criticism. Gaga’s unapologetic, non-conformist sexuality is one of the things that make her. Yeah, it’s brash and unadorned, that’s the point. She manages to own her sexuality in a way that other pop stars do not.

    What’s most appealing about Gaga’s lyrics is the way she writes about sex. Listen to “I Like It Rough,” “Boys Boys Boys,” “Poker Face,” “Teeth,” “Dance in the Dark,” “So Happy I Could Die,” and “Bad Romance.”

    In these songs, she sings about having sex for her own pleasure. About demanding sex that will meet her needs. About being romantic, but not within the confines of a romantic relationship. About taking pleasure in one’s body even when being convinced that you ought to be ashamed. Wanting sex that does not fit into preconceptions of what women are supposed to want, desires that are not neatly bound at all.

    She does all this while centering her own experience (and the experience of the listener who identifies with her), not that of a listener who thinks she’s sexy and wants to bone her – as “Alejandro” makes clear.

    And then there’s “Monster” – a song about date rape that’s everything that “Spectacular” is not. It’s a dance track that calls out the predatory types that use dance clubs to prey. It recasts the featured male artist singing about how fine all the ladies are (as though they’re all there for his personal benefit), as the creepy prowling monster who does think that women are there for his benefit, and makes up his mind to have sex with a girl before even talking to her.

    I challenge you to name another pop singer who writes about sex and sexuality with as much variation, complexity, and ownership as Lady Gaga does.

    • collapse expand

      “I challenge you to name another pop singer who writes about sex and sexuality with as much variation, complexity, and ownership as Lady Gaga does.”

      As I said in response to an earlier comment, in the Land of the Brain-Dead Britneys, the one-eyed diva is king. Or something like that. Meaning: Your point may be more indictment of the vacuity of the pop landscape than exoneration of Gaga. I'm reminded of Jon Savage's comment, at the end of his _Guardian_ article on Joy Division singer Ian Curtis's reading habits, which ranged broadly over Ballard, the existentialists, Gogol, Kafka, and Burroughs, and whose lyrics bore the stamp of his wide-ranging mind. Says Savage, "The band, and its lyricist, were products of a particular time in cultural history, when there was an urge to read a certain sort of highbrow literature, and when intelligence was not a dirty word." A verdict on our times?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Your point may be more indictment of the vacuity of the pop landscape than exoneration of Gaga.

        So, you lambast her her for being derivative, but the one thing she does that is substantially different, is not indicative of her merit, but rather the lack of merit in pop music in general.

        Nice little double-standard you’ve got there.

        But even if you’re right, I still gotta love her for being the one to actually decide to include these themes in her music.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    Not goint to comment much on Dery’s demeaning of Gaga’s fans, and extended defence of “rockism” except to say, dude, grow up. You’re not in high school anymore. Get over yourself.

    On not being weird enough and being mass marketed: She is performing fame. She is performing stardom. Hence being just weird enough to be an inspiration to outsiders (it doesn’t matter whether Stephani Germanotta was a freak or not – Lady Gaga is) while turning out one hit after another. Her songs are just one component of her artistic endeavor, which is much broader and subsumes her entire persona and career.

    I’ve felt for a long time now that this elitist scorn for the mass market is misplaced. Art is meant to communicate. Selling out is when you stop communicating for the sake of popularity. It’s not popularity itself that’s the evil. If a piece of art can retain its message, then popularity is a valid indicator of the success and the merits of the work. That Gaga is selling herself to the masses only proves that she is a talented artist. The familiarity of her performance is one way that she acheives this.

    I don’t see how the fact the argument, “it’s been done before” changes the fact that Gaga is self-constructed. It still takes wit to construct one’s self convincingly in the public eye.

    And really, the premium on “originality” is getting old. Again, Gaga’s not trying to be original – she’s engaging with familiar icons and performers, she’s in dialogue with them, she’s sampling. Even if she’s downright “stealing ” or “copying”, she’s just doing what Shakespeare did – taking someone else’s story, re-packaging it, and making it insanely popular.

    Yes, I just compared Lady Gaga to Shakespear. It’s an accurate comparison.

    “Oh groan” is not an explaination of what makes writing about the classic themes of popular music stupid.

    And then Dery just comes out and says that Gaga is entirely thoughtless. An airhead, if you will – a dumb blonde. Her astounding success should be evidence enough of her intelligence. Her meteoric rise, achieved without being studio-groomed by Disney since she was a tween; whithout a stable of songwriters; without being assigned an image that fits her into an easily marketable package, but instead devising her own image that challenges people just enough to ensure that she was even more marketable than a record executive could have promised…
    This is not evidence enough of her intelligence for you? She’s just some silly bimbo that’s bounced her way along to success, and is only now learning how to think?

    I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me how anyone could come to that conclusion without the influence of some deeply sexist notions.

  11. collapse expand

    The glam rock era gave the sample a value of depth in order to bring the supposed historical underpinnings of rock into view, thus apollonianizing the dionysian tendency (or whatever) and giving the culture of rock a knowing subject, an informed consumer. But informed consumption is merely the consumption of “informed consumption”. creating a layer of myth. glam consumed the idea of itself as a repetition, as a historical reenactment of decadence, but does that make it more intelligent and thus fit for a more intelligent consumption?
    If there’s anything I’ve learned from the whole phenomenon of Gaga, it’s that reenactment IS a deconstruction which requires no intelligence whatsoever; the action and it’s reactions in the present do all the work. Gaga is taking advantage of a moment, is it interesting, does it have a surplus value of contemplative buzz? What Gaga combines is the myth and it’s market.

    It seems to me that to say ‘oh yes, this this and this are there in the work; and this and this have been done’ and then to engage in an argument about intelligence, ‘is she or isn’t she?’ isn’t this beside the point of postmodernity? Gaga arguably sought a way to engage in action and she is following that line, others say things about her, adding to her, subtracting, etc. but the line is still in progress, it is still functioning, and thus I don’t think we can ask if it is or isn’t a failed ‘idea.’ is it intelligence in the act or something else, is this a fundamentally different way of acting than thinking? Must she be burdened with the attributes of knowing subject, musician, etc?

    • collapse expand

      Also, and more specifically, there are several important generational differences between glam and Gaga, partly due to the milieu in which either played/is playing, partly due to a genuine difference in form:

      1) Frequency of costume/persona: If we view the costume as the embodiment of the myth then even Bowie was more light on mythic personae than Gaga. Gaga is excessive in every regard, but I would argue that in THIS regard it is working to her advantage. The excess of costume causes her to become more than any single myth, she’s more like a shifter. This may be partly due to the frequency of events at this point in history, but this acceleration of publicity seems to be forcing ‘glam identity’ toward moving beyond any one myth or historicization.

      2) Content Indifference: Gaga makes herself a relay within contemporary (aka bad, aka “reality”) culture, taking up vocal melodies from Gwen Stefani (“cause i’m up in the club and i’m sippin’ that bub…”) as well as the more tried and true Madonna (“Caroline… Judy… Sy-Sy-Sylvia… Tell em how u feel girls”), this provokes me into thinking that she views her sample material as ubiquitously contemporary (a network) and is indifferent to ideas about content and ‘depth’ within a lyrical surface.

      Anyway, blah blah blah on my part (Basically this can all be summed up by a cross reading of Rosalind Krauss’s essay of Cindy Sherman’s photos)

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I’m not convinced glam consumers—typically, high-school social pariahs, dreaming of a pleasure dome free from the torments of the locker room and the prom—were all that knowing. Glam’s buried engine was the prom-night shut-in’s dream of a Wildean world consecrated to aesthetics, and the middle-class American kid’s fantasy of escape, up the ladder of class and taste, into the impossibly elegant, Moet & Chandon otherworld of “Killer Queen.” Determinedly apolitical at best, crypto-fascist (as the dandy aesthetic always is) at worst, and always unabashedly sybaritic, glam may shade unintentionally into camp here and kitsch there, but I’m not sure it’s much on irony, either on the production end or, even less likely, the consuming end. Perhaps I was the odd 14-year-old out, but when Freddie sang, in “Keep Yourself Alive,” of loving a million women “in a Belladonic haze” and how he “ate a million dinners/ brought to me on silver trays,” Beardsleyian dreams of Orientalized opulence danced in my teenaged head. I suspect I wasn’t alone in accepting such fantasies at face value, unimpaired by irony.
      I’m not sure I follow your argument about progress, nor am I at all sure what sort of “action” you’re arguing Gaga is engaged in, other than reanimating Andy’s cryogenically frozen simulacrum. I mean, where do we go after Andy? Aren’t Kostabi, Koons, and the Chapman Brothers more of the same? And why the ironic quotes around “idea”? Unless you’re arguing that Gaga is guided entirely by gonadal twitchings or some sort of dim flickering in the reptilian hindbrain. If she’s not a knowing subject, well, I’d rather not know her. In these days of Birthers, 9/11 Truthers, Tea Partiers, global-warming deniers, and anti-Darwinians, unknowingness is a lot less sexy that it used to be. If it ever was. Which isn’t to say that our pleasures should be purely cerebral. (George Clinton, come home; all is forgiven.)

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  12. collapse expand

    All i can say is ‘Bravo!’ for writing such a spectacular article on the woes of Gaga, pop culture and all the rest. Though you may or may not have intended to make something profound. You were simply asking why, but i must say i approve and even adore you for asking. Especially the terminology and rhetoric used.

    For all you’ve said is true, and the music is profoundly bad. Perhaps I’m rockist and other forms of -ists as well, as i grew up on classical, jazz and rock music. Though i can explain why i view her ‘music’ as unbearable to my ears.

    First i personally cannot be found of a piece of music merely for the way it sounds. I have to have some connect or love for the lyrical web that the musician spins. And Gaga? The web she spins? In my eyes looks like a plastic spiderweb you buy on Halloween that a 6 year old girl decided to cover in shiny pink glitter, due to some complex plot of commercialism and media brainwashing.

    Her lyrics do nothing to trigger the mind into thought, but rather to go out have drugs, sex and party, as this would be the ideal and only way to pursue happiness. Does nothing for triggering my emotions, or to ‘move’ me in the slightest. Her lyrics are glorified trashy words, that are horrifically catchy, and drilled into the mind of the youth today.

    Besides the above lack of ‘depth’ to the lyrics, which are spewed from the lips of millions of adolescence across the world, i find the pitch of the music to be dreadful as well. The music these days targeted at the teens, all seems to be at this ridiculously high pitch, and is almost always and obviously altered using synthesizers and voice changing technology. My ears cannot stand the pitches and i often plead with my friends to change the songs they listen to loudly off their computer speakers. She doesn’t really speak of anything at all, nothing of ‘importance’ just a glamorized world of sex, drugs, etc. But then again so do several other genres, but for whatever reason the way she goes about it riles my nerves.

    Another note, I find her music videos, her surrealist-glitzy costumes, and her over sexualization are another part that make Gaga a turn off for me. Her videos are there to shock and cast the audience under the spell, while being entirely irrelevant to the song! Her clothing, although creative, i find hard to believe that is it is merely her form of expression or rather her way of becoming infamous and an object of attention.

    I for whatever profound reason, though an adolescence myself, have not fallen under her gaudy spell. And say Tata to Gaga. For she will fade, and become a relic of the past, thrust aside, as the newest, more sexy and supposedly ‘weird’ artist takes her place, wows the audience yet again with their ‘brilliance’.

    That is all, and apologies for writing this tremendous comment.

  13. collapse expand

    Understandably you took the long way around the block to say she’s an over-hyped vacuous twit. After 62 years on earth observing people in innumerable situations, I’ve concluded there are two types of dumb or stupid people. One, the most common, is blissfully ignorant of their dumbness or stupidity and they bash on in life regardless. See: Sarah Palin. The other type is aware of their dumbness or stupidity and is not only unembarrassed by it, but will glory in it. They are proud of it and wear it as a badge of honor, as would a war hero.
    I was blessed with a highly sensitive Bullshit Detector at birth. Whenever I encounter anything that requires a convoluted dissertation to convince me that it is Something Special or The Next Big Thing, it zooms into the red and is pegged at 100%. True Art, in whatever field, does not require that the observer be convinced of or talked into seeing its worth. True Art is self-evident.

    There is not enough turd polish in the universe to put a shine on Shit.

  14. collapse expand

    I agreed with many of your paragraphs and sentences, but wish you had defined dumb, not dumb, intellectual, etc., for these pieces to cohere into an argument. I picked up the following: dumb may mean derivative, accidental, not cerebral, random (as in her pastiche is thrown together randomly?). Not dumb is the opposite of most of those things, as well as knowing (i.e., ‘in on the joke/act’), not visceral, and on some level, aesthetically pleasing to those who find other ‘not dumb’ acts pleasing.

    I don’t mean to be pedantic; I just want a paragraph at the start that defines the accusation so I know exactly what all of my agreeing with you amounts to at the end.

    • collapse expand

      Point taken, although letting the reader constellate her own definition of intelligence (that is to say: not-dumbness) from the values I implicitly extol—cultural literacy, a sense of historicity, musical sophistication, multilayered lyrical meaning—seemed more respectful of the reader’s intellect. I didn’t want to give people that follow-the-bouncing-ball feeling. But there’s no denying that my implicit definition of smartness isn’t unproblematic (litotes strikes again!), privileging, as it does, literariness, intellectualism, and formal complexity. Then again, those are the yardsticks our logocentric culture generally uses to measure smartness. IQ tests are heavily weighted toward verbal fluency and reading comprehension. Then again, to saw off the branch I’m sitting on, they’re hopelessly flawed instruments.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  15. collapse expand

    Two points to consider: first, I think it’s important to keep in mind the downfall of Adorno – the student response to the anti-gay sentiments, jazz-bashing, eschewing modern musical styles for Modern musical styles, etc. was breasts, bare breasts, and it ultimately foretold his downfall, so perhaps there’s something to be said for a little bit of flesh to clear out the arteriosclerotic elements.

    Second, you’ve made straw-men out of the Gaga supporters. You note several times (quite patronizingly, I might add) the way in which Gender Studies people see Gaga as an interesting figure, yet never actually engage with those supporters of the “smart” Gaga on their own terms. You introduce a number of (in my opinion, quite valid) critiques of the “rockist” ideology and the potential for cultural subversion in camp, drag, performance, cultural bricolage, etc. and then dismiss it with “All of those points being readily granted, I still say it’s disco, and I say the hell with it.” This should be convincing? Your argument proceeds from here to a criticism of the lyrics. While it may be perhaps a deft rhetorical move, to grant the appearance of considering the arguments advanced against one, your essay DOES seem to be lacking any positive references to female artists. I’m not asking you to provide any, just pointing out what seems to be a not-so-latent dislike for “pillow-biting emo boys, gay teens, and high-school weirdos” in your writing, not to mention a woman who is pronounced dumb (and dumber than your chosen male counterparts) by virtue of her song lyrics and ostensibly loose name-dropping – something which I found particularly amusing, given your vague allusions to Baudrillard, Deleuze, Semiotexte, Sontag etc.

    • collapse expand

      Taking nothing away from Mark’s piece, which I found both engaging and interesting in certain respects, I’d just like to further applaud lonelobo for what I consider to be a very, very good comment. Well said.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Lonelobo: A sharply argued, closely reasoned response. Even so, you misread me where it matters. To begin, I’m a cultural-studies fanboy, the sworn foe (by and large) of Adorno-esque h8ers who see pop culture as a Vast Wasteland of tastes-great, less-filling brain candy, a Weapon of Mass Distraction deployed by the Culture Industry, Inc. to lull the masses into happy consumption and reconcile them to their political impotence. Thus, you’ve got my enthusiastic vote when you argue that Adorno’s buzzkill approach to the cheap thrills and popular pleasures of American culture produced a dialectical pushback in youth culture. I mean, who wants to sit around, enduring the dubious pleasures of Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht,” when everybody else is at the Love-In? Respectfully, though, I’d argue that you’re forgetting Simon Reynolds’s point that Gaga’s “outrageousness” isn’t all that outrageous, and certainly isn’t very transgressive in any profoundly culture-political sense, because as Reynolds notes she’s less an implicit critique of the utterly commodified, mediagenic mainstream represented by American Idol, Britney, et. al., than she is a hyperbolic extension of it.

      In other words, if you’re right, who is the Adorno she’s reacting against? Seems to me her manufactured persona _presumes_ Adorno’s argument in “The Culture Industry,” namely, that pop culture is Lorazepam for the masses, a guilt-free Temporary Autonomous Zone (or Bubble World, if you will), frozen in the timeless present of TV consciousness—an escapist fantasy that numbs the pain of returning, after the weekend ends, to the 9-to-5 grind. This is the moral of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER’s fable, in part. Yes, as Dyer implies, disco encourages a vision of the dancefloor as a transitory utopia, where the beat dissolves distinctions of class, race, and sexual persuasion, momentarily fusing scattered social atoms into a sweaty body politic. But the weasel word, there, is “transitory.”

      Short version: “A little bit of flesh” may be a market-tested strategy for scandalizing the God Hates Fags crowd, but it’s hardly revolutionary in the age after Madonna’s SEX, in a moment when the mainstreaming of porn culture is taking place all around us. Again, Gaga represents an Xtreme version of More of the Same.

      “Second, you’ve made straw-men out of the Gaga supporters. You note several times (quite patronizingly, I might add) the way in which Gender Studies people see Gaga as an interesting figure, yet never actually engage with those supporters of the “smart” Gaga on their own terms.”

      One man’s “patronizing” is another man’s “mordantly funny.” I’m writing an acid-etched polemic, here, in the manner of Mencken, not an OCTOBER essay. Your mileage may vary. But to your larger point, the Gender Studies apologias I’ve read have more or less channeled Camille Paglia’s giddy defenses of Madonna, back in the day. Typically, they’re Baudrillardian rhapsodies about How Gaga Cathects the Simulacrum, or whatever, or “Do Me” feminist theorizations of Gaga as an emblem of self-empowerment through self-exploitation (again, a done-to-death analysis of Madonna during her SEX period), or a refried Deleuzean Body-without-Organs reading that understands Gaga as the poster girl for boundary dissolution, liquid subjectivity, anti-Oedipal hoo-hah, etc.—our last, best hope for escaping the tyranny of the gender binary and striking off the shackles of the heteronormative. If I sounded condescending, it’s simply because these arguments are snoringly unoriginal, a textbook example of the very intellectual sclerosis you decried in your comment.

      “…then dismiss it with “All of those points being readily granted, I still say it’s disco, and I say the hell with it.” This should be convincing?”

      No, it should be funny. I’m not Rosalind Krauss. If I didn’t add a little levity, anon, you’d be accusing me of chloroform in prose. What _should_ convince is the line where I note the logical fallacy of assuming that, since some objections to Gaga are undeniably rockist, _all_ are.

      “your essay DOES seem to be lacking any positive references to female artists.”

      I cited some in an earlier response to a comment. I’ll cut-and-paste that defense here: “I could just as easily have used, in place of Freddie Mercury’s “Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” the brilliant work of *female* artists such as Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Exene Cervenka, Deborah Iyall, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox, PJ Harvey, or Bjork. But it simply didn’t occur to me to compare like to like, in the chromosomal sense, for the simple reason that there’s more to any complex analysis of Gaga than gender politics. Squeezing the world through that pinhole amounts to a kind of intellectual Stalinism, the kind of philosophical myopia that kills true debate dead.” (BTW, if _that_ sounds condescending, read it in context. I was responding to a less intellectually nimble commenter.)

      “pointing out what seems to be a not-so-latent dislike for “pillow-biting emo boys, gay teens, and high-school weirdos” in your writing,”

      Again, you’re mistaking snark for phobia. I _was_ a certified high-school weirdo, as my mortifyingly geeked-out Northrop Frye-approved close reading of a Queen song implies, or ought to. And my heart goes out to the alienated teens of the world, be they pillow-biting neurotics, gays, or just social pariahs. Emo, though: that shit’s fucked up.

      (Just. Kidding.)

      “dumb (and dumber than your chosen male counterparts) by virtue of her song lyrics and ostensibly loose name-dropping – something which I found particularly amusing, given your vague allusions to Baudrillard, Deleuze, Semiotexte, Sontag etc.”

      What, exactly, is “vague” about my references? (Would it be waspish to point out that they’re references, not allusions? I think it would. Which is why I’ll indulge.) This point I really must take issue with. I made the references in question for various reasons, among them the amusing juxtaposition of highbrow and lowbrow, but also to underscore the yawning chasm between the extravagant claims Gaga makes for her Art and its artistic merits or lack thereof. Her “name-dropping” is clearly intended to locate her within the art-historical continuum, and the march of ideas, as a Serious Artist. It seems fair, in that light, to judge her by her own yardstick or, as the case may be, hoist her by her own petard. If she’s going to come on all Matthew Barney-meets-Rainer Maria Rilke, it’s hardly an act of cultural waterboarding to judge her by her own terms. Had she said she was just the bullwhip-wielding dominatrix of our dreams, cranking out soundtracks for adolescent mating rituals, we could have packed up our hermeneutics and go home.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  16. collapse expand

    Ha! Amazing. I actually wrote a not-quite-as-thorough version of this myself some time ago.

    http://www.homo-neurotic.com/2010/01/08/lady-gaga-fame-or-monster/

    Cheers. Good to know I’m not alone.

  17. collapse expand

    jesus, does anybody really give two shits about this shallow, weird twat? really?

  18. collapse expand

    “The first verse of “Poker Face” is very clever.”

    “I wanna hold em’ like they do in Texas Plays
    Fold em’ let em’ hit me raise it baby stay with me (I love it)
    Lovegame and intuition play the cards with Spades to start
    And after he’s been hooked I’ll play the one that’s on his heart”

    Yeah, I’m going to have to disagree with you there. Cool thread though. I can’t believe this about the gaga- which to me seems like a cross between an even less talented madonna and circue de sole’. No one ever wondered if Chrissie Hynde was stupid.

  19. collapse expand

    Uh-oh. Somebody watched Telephone ~too~ many times!

    This bizarre article suffers from the same disease that makes Gaga herself so dumb. Just ~look~ at the thing: 3,600 words, fully half of them riffing on (largely strained and ludicrous) cultural references. Perhaps it would be more useful to “start to think, really think, about [the] references, rather than just peeling them loose from their cultural contexts and dropping them, plop!”

    It’s an odd flavor of showing off — burning through obscure vocabulary, juxtaposing things that don’t belong (let alone belong together). The style is more like humorously bad poetry than commentary — and easy to stumble into when there’s little of substance an audience needs to know, or to think about.

    Here’s the diagnostic for Gaga: display any still shot from one of her videos. If it just plain looks ~stupid~, you’re seeing who she is, and getting the joke.

    It also works for articles. Read a sentence ~aloud~. If the pretentiousness is utterly overwhelming — laughably over the top — that bit of writing is infected with The Gaga.

    Unless… the article’s transcendentally hip goal was to re-imagine an über-meta “Where’s Waldo” of Hieronymus’ Haywain, delving deja-vu-like into placental Gaga — intending to leave both Dr. and Mr. Spock agape and agog — an artistic parry entombed and enwombed in a deeper-than-vaginal thrust of creative disentanglement… then… bravo.

  20. collapse expand

    She looks neato and I love her performances but I can’t stand “her” music. Its sad that “her” image doesn’t line up with “her” sound. I respect the producers, there are some really neat licks flying around in those songs. What kills me is that for all these visual and audio intricacies her music boils down to annoying pop hooks. I mean they are really well done pop hooks, the best. As the saying goes, “you can dress a turd up as much as you want but it will always be a turd.”

  21. collapse expand

    Reading a Deeply Silly commentary on the “Telephone” video by “Gaga blogger and doctoral student Meghan Vicks,” who wheels out the obligatory reference to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish to Explain It All For Us…

    I checked out that article and I have to say you misrepresent it. It’s not by Meghan Vicks, it’s by Courtney Crowder, a writer for ABC’s website. The target audience is Good Morning America viewers, not the academia. You can’t accuse Vicks of Explaining It All To Us when she was specifically asked to do so by the writer. Nor can you fault her for referring to Foucault. The thing with major thinkers is that people continue to engage with their concepts, even after it’s no longer cool and original to do so.

    By the way, what does Madonna’s failure to read the book jacket of Discipline and Punish have to do with Lady Gaga?

    • collapse expand

      1. Nowhere did I say it was BY Vicks.

      2. Nowhere did I say it was an academic article, or that it was written for an academic audience.

      3. I can, too, accuse Vicks of Explaining It All for Us, whether she was asked to or not, if that was what she attempted, however gamely, to do. Then, too, I. was. making. with. the. joke. Shallow up, already.

      4. I faulted her for her Foucault reference not because there’s anything wrong with invoking Foucault, when relevant, but because Vicks has to walk a million philosophical miles to make a risibly strained connection between the TELEPHONE video and the Panopticon chapter in DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH. It’s just bathetic. Worse yet, it’s gongingly unoriginal. A generation of grad students gave itself the intellectual equivalent of a hot-stone massage, back in the day, by propping up Madonna’s SEX book with op cits and ibids from DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH. Most of those essays, which seemed achingly hip at the time, are now moldering quietly in the cultural landfill, where their authors hope they will be forgotten. There’s nothing wrong with using critical theory as a prybar to get at the deeper meanings of pop culture; I’ve made a career (if you call this a career!) out of doing so. But for the love of Michel, be at original, at least, and don’t mutilate your analysis beyond recognition by staple-gunning some strained reference to its forehead, just so you can look clever, as Vicks does.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        1. Nowhere did I say it was BY Vicks

        That was exactly what you said. “… a Deeply Silly commentary on the “Telephone” video by “Gaga blogger and doctoral student Meghan Vicks…”

        Dude, seriously.

        2. Mentioning that Vicks was a PhD student but not that the article was for the Good Morning America website? Not explicitly misrepresenting, but you know how context works.

        3. LOL at “Shallow up, already.” But, not when you’re mocking someone who doesn’t really deserve it. “Explaining It All” implies a kind of haughty, I-am-more-educated-than-you-and-am-deigning-to-share-my-enlightenment-with-the-masses kind of attitude, specifically one that is unwarranted. That is not what Vicks was doing.

        4. K.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        4. Why is the reference strained?

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  22. collapse expand

    Why should I post jobs on Contract Auction?
    Instant connection to 1000’s of suppliers and manufacturers nationwide.View bidders history and feedback before accepting bids.Post anything from prototypes or small quantities to high volume production. Use Contract Auction for all manufacturing,commodity, textile and agriculture needs,or anything in between.

    Why should I bid jobs on Contract Auction? Instant connection to 1000’s of buyers nationwide. Bid confidently with access to buyer’s feedback. Find jobs that match your unique capabilities. Expand your business instantly on Contract Auction.

    Find machine shops

  23. collapse expand

    Oh look another of those women are dumb and equal pop culture which is feminized and dumb and men equal super artistic bookish tweedy culture which is smart. Now the man will precede to show you how smart he is by using obnoxious language to demean the female artist. Rinse repeat.

    I wonder how long this comment will last.

    • collapse expand

      This comment will last and last and last, Jessant, as an enduring monument to all the intellectual insecurities that use feminism as a blunt instrument—a shabby testimony to feminism in general, and to more nuanced feminist minds in particular. Let me get this straight: any critic born with a Y chromosome who has the temerity to critique the intellectual substance of an artist who, by some twist of fate, happens to be born with two X chromosomes, must by definition be sexist, since every man is just some tentacle of the Patriarchy ™, mindlessly doing its dirty work? Isn’t that just the littlest bit…sexist, given that the essence of sexism is the reduction of the Other to mere gender? I could just as easily have used, in place of Freddie Mercury’s “Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” the brilliant work of *female* artists such as Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Exene Cervenka, Deborah Iyall, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox, PJ Harvey, or Bjork. But it simply didn’t occur to me to compare like to like, in the chromosomal sense, for the simple reason that there’s more to any complex analysis of Gaga than gender politics. Squeezing the world through that pinhole amounts to a kind of intellectual Stalinism, the kind of philosophical myopia that kills true debate dead.
      (Parenthetically, re-posting your Boing Boing comment here begins to feel like a one-woman Fatwah.)

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        TLDR. LOL. I’m gonna assume you used the same pedantic, scolding language and save myself the trouble. <3

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        OH OH, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT FEMINISM, PROFESSOR.

        *Chin in hands*

        It gets me so hot and bothered.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Here’s a little Strunk and White-ing of Mr. Dery’s comment:

        “This comment will endure, Jessant, as a monument to the inexpert use of feminism. You imply that male critics may not criticize women. Isn’t that sexist?

        I could have referenced the work of Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Exene Cervenka, Deborah Iyall, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox, PJ Harvey, or Bjork. I did not compare Gaga to women because I feel that a complex analysis of Gaga demands more than gender politics. Reducing everything to gender politics stifles debate.”

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Come on, would you seriously ask if a pop performer who acheived this degree of success was “dumb” if she wasn’t a woman?

        The last bit of your article is telling: “Madonna did this stupid thing one time, and I can attribute that to Lady Gaga because they’re both stupid blonde bimbos.”

        You can critique female performers, of course. But when you entirely dismiss a massively successful female performer, dismiss her as dumb, then something starts to smelly fishy. Like sexist fish.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          IA so hard. He’s pretty much the preachy professor stereotype who likes to talk down to the little women in his presence. I’m not impressed. He’s just a small man that uses big words to make up for the fact that his essay boils down to WOMEN ARE DUMB AND ANYTHING THEY MAKE IS CANCER while ignoring other female artists of significance and only referencing Paris Hilton, Madonna, etc. It is fishy and everyone knows what’s going on here.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I’m not hating on Paris or Madonna btw. One sentence I wrote could be construed that way. Madonna is definitely an artist of significance. I don’t know what Paris Hilton has to do with all this honestly. This article just reeks of dislike for successful women period.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  24. collapse expand

    Mr. Dery should read Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. There may very well be an interesting argument beneath Dery’s needless words, but I could not find it.

  25. collapse expand

    Another fantastic piece. You were born to do this.

    This was quite helpful to me. I’ve been reviewing CDs for 6 years now, at least 3 releases every single week, without taking an extended break in all that time. That involves a lot of cultural giving, and it’s funny this article should appear just now — my cultural Circadian rhythm is in a state of taking-in, or communing, and this couldn’t have been more perfect.

    But enough about my favorite subject.

    Random thoughts on Gaga:

    One part of my brain — the part that’s suspicious of everything after 8 years of Cheney-era fascist agitprop — doesn’t trust this shit at all. Let’s talk about The Next Madonna and pray for a nice hit of schadenfreude — Despondent Gaga Dumped By Boyfriend, Crashes Ferrari, Arrested! — instead of how people are getting fucked on a daily basis by The Man. I mean, who made this crypto-Warholdonna bullshit explode? Karl Rove? What the fuck, right, another year without the proles dragging Blankfein et al to the guillotines is a great year.

    Another part says she’s okay. This is Generation Random Ringtone after all, where there’s no time for rock-album “filler” or “boring” setup, period. Snippets of quirkiness that instantly flesh into solid characters in Apatow movies. 15-second commercials whose music or “plot” puts a lump in the throat out of nowhere. Gaga’s contributions to our great cosmic MP3-shuffle have hooks, at least, and when I’m buying my shit at the Superette her crap doesn’t hurt my ears the way Corey Hart’s does.

    Is the last bit a cop-out? Sure. But real art isn’t affordable — budget-wise or time-wise — for regular folks. It could be, if the citizens of the Home of the Brave (what a fucking laugh) ever strapped on a pair, wrecked this whole motherfucker and started over, but I don’t see that happening soon.

  26. collapse expand

    Reminds of: Britney, Elton John and a lot of rip-off of Grace Jones (there’s some Roisin Murphy in there, too, according to a certain searchsytems pics)

    Music: Mediocre

    Style: Jean Paul Gaultier et al have been doing this for DECADES, so that means she is “original” ? To whom, those who have no effin clue who Jean Paul etc are ?

    Videos: Cobbled together collages of popular mainstream elements, 3rd rate Matthew Barney, lowest common denominator’s of Pop Icons… nothing new or particularly creative

    Posters: Haus Of Gaga…. Are they Myspace Designers ?

    Art References: I don’t see where she is influenced by the artists she mentions ? Her mainstream cack is not along the lines of those Greats

    Thanks, I’ll pass

  27. collapse expand

    How this is sexist, 101

    1) … dumb…

    … is just asking to be followed by “blonde”. As someone else mentioned, can you even imagine writing an article like this about a male performer? Like, say, Justin Timberlake, or Mika? I doubt it.

    2) I was suddenly reminded of an avant-garde composer I once knew, a hyper-cerebral Vulcan whose veins ran with antifreeze. When I asked him, in an interview, about some diva on the downtown-music scene, he paused for effect, a predatory twinkle in his eye. Then came the headsman’s blow, delivered with undisguised relish: “Not overly burdened with intellect.”

    Mr. Avant-garde criticizes Miss Popularity. His “critique” has nothing to do with her actual music, but is a jab at her intellect. Which is irrelevant. And indicates how full of it he is, to think that he is qualified to pronounce on her intelligence. Not to mention his unrestrained pleasure at putting successful women in their place. So, quoting some dude’s sexist musings without noting the sexism therein.

    3) And, why is this anecdote even necessary? It’s not. Unless you’re drawing a parallel between the “diva” and Lady Gaga. Same goes for this,

    I’m reminded of a lazy afternoon in L.A., sometime in the ’80s, listening to a masseuse to the stars telling me she’d seen Madonna carrying a copy of Foucault’s book in her purse to certify her scandalousness. Apparently, my friend chuckled, the poor dear was under the impression—never having read the damned thing—that it was a bondage manual.

    What does this have to do with Lady Gaga? Nothing. These two anecdotes demonstrate your prejudice: specifically, that female pop stars are stupid. This article is just you attempting to justify that prejudice with respect to Lady Gaga.

    4) Is she a rarified being who has more talent in her clitoral hood than you can even dream of, little man?

    If yes, female sexuality is threatening to critics like you; if no, female sexuality is a joke.

    5) pickled her brain in Britney

    Because when female pop stars are bad, they don’t just make benignly bad music, they rot your cerebral cortex. Another reason why female success is scary.

    6) Not to mention the implication that Spears’ fans are passive sponges who don’t realize that they’re engaged in pop fandom, not a music appreciation course.

    7) nth-wave feminists

    Why is it worth being snide over the fact that an intellectual and social movement has developed and changed over time? Unless you simply consider the movement itself something to snicker about.

    By the way, is it really that difficult for you to count to three?

    8) and still snooker a generation of cultural-studies profs and nth-wave feminists into a deconstructive swoon about her Judith Butler-approved gender performativity?

    “Snooker”: again, assuming that people do not have your exalted ability to critically engage with popular culture.

    Making fun people’s enthusiasm for the writers and concepts that are central to their fields. Which indicates that you find those things – Judith Butler, gender performance – inherently mockable. Which is sexist.

    9) Nor is Gaga’s mouth-breather gape, which combined with her slight overbite gives her a vaguely dumbfounded look. She looks permanently agog, like Paris Hilton after a ministroke.

    I really hope I don’t have to explain how evaluating women based on their looks is sexist.

    10) Listen to Gaga and you’ll hear the sound of IQ points molting.

    Actually, when I listen to Gaga, I hear a woman talking publically about date rape, the sexual shaming of women, and falling in love with a girl friend.

    Your student was right, you aren’t Gaga’s target audience. That has no impact on the merit of her music. That you cannot recognize those themes, their significance, or acknowledge the value that they bring to Gaga’s music (in the comments, saying that their absence in pop music may be more indictment of the vacuity of the pop landscape than exoneration of Gaga.) indicates an obtuseness that can only spring from a secure, unexamined sexism.

    11) If you’re a devout Gagaphile and, improbably, have made it this far, let me channel what you’re thinking, right about now: as a Person of a Certain Age, and, even more unconscionably, a more or less heteronormative male, I’m incapable of appreciating the gifts of a neo-disco diva whose target audience is—I’m guessing, here—girls eight to 18 (the Gossip Girl/Sex and the City demographic) and gays who like Madonna.

    Being patronizing is your idea of humour?It’s the humour of the privileged, secure in his superiority, enjoying a laugh at the expense of those he deems to be lesser mortals than he. Yes, it’s sexist.

    12) I should be femdom’d by the Lady, then thrown to the tender mercies of the butch-est of the Caged Heat babes in Gaga’s Telephone video.

    Assuming that your sexual fantasies are of any significance to others.

    13) All of those points being readily granted, I still say it’s disco, and I say the hell with it.

    Refusing to engage in serious self-reflection. The first sign that you might be sexist (or racist, or homophobic) is that you immediately deny such accusations, without putting yourself under the microscope first. That you say it’s something other people do (some male-menopausal rockists), but oh no, not you!

    It’s an error of logic to argue that, simply because some male-menopausal rockists think Gaga is the unholy progeny of Kim Kardashian and Klaus Nomi (a record I’d buy in a heartbeat, by the way), they must be criminally clueless, if not homo-negro-Latino-Italo-phobic, and Gaga must be the best thing to happen to pop music since Bowie had his nipples rotated.

    And further denial, by way of ignoring the point of accusation of “rockist,” and impugne the logic of those who make such accusations. The aim is not to shield from all criticism. It is to point out – hey, your criticism is coming from a place of prejudice and privilege. Which holds true for this entire article.

    14) I mean, who gives a disco stick, really?

    Taking your own, male, perspective to be the norm. Obviously, the answer is: a lot of people who are not you.

    15) Babs returned the favor by observing, after the fact, that Gaga impressed her as “quite intelligent,” an impression that may or may not have been cemented by the Lady’s choice of what Walters called a “very serious” Chanel suit, befitting an audience with America’s Mother Confessor.

    Because women’s puny brains can be short-circuited by clothes.

    16) Oh, groan.

    Why was this deserved? Moreover, why should it be taken to mean anything other than, “I am very impressed with myself, and you should be too!”

    17) All that said, the “Bad Romance” video shows real promise.

    Putting yourself in the position of teacher to the budding student. Except that she’s not a student, she’s immensely successful, and you are not in that station of supriority above her.

    18) Reading a Deeply Silly commentary on the “Telephone” video by “Gaga blogger and doctoral student Meghan Vicks,” who wheels out the obligatory reference to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish to Explain It All For Us…

    Mocking a woman for being so silly as to apply her expertise to something she enjoys. For doing the exact same thing that you have just spent a lengthy article doing.

    19) If Gaga can wean herself from the “deeply shallow” referentiality of Artistic Statements like the “Telephone” video, which channels Quentin Tarantino channeling Caged Heat, and start to think, really think, about her references… If Gaga learns that thinking is the most dangerous act of all, she’ll really be one scary monster.

    As if she hasn’t really thought before. As if she’s a child. That kind of infantalizing is sexist.

    This entire article is oozing with sexism, scorn for successful women, and distain for cultural projects which aren’t targeted at you.

    Hint: make your answer by dealing with your sexism, instead of denying it.

    • collapse expand

      *SLOW CLAPS*

      This was amazing. Thank you so much. <3

      You broke it down perfectly. Guys like this are everywhere. I use to read book blogs but had to stop because literary critics are the worst offenders.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Also this is deeply homophobic shit too. I mean,
        “gay teens,” and “pillow-biting emo boys”. Seriously. Seriously. Warren Ellis linked to this shit. WTF IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Jessant: The pitchfork-and-Dworkin brigade has moved on, but you’re still here, chasing your tail, running yourself into a wall-eyed froth. Wonderful. It’s like Sisyphus, but with cute little emoticons, and LOLspeak.

          A parting thought:

          I wrote:

          “Is she a rarified being…whose Art for Art’s Sake raptures us out of our stonewashed lives, into a disco ball-flecked Bubble World, a Studio 54 in the Sky where gay teens, pillow-biting emo boys, and high-school weirdos are waved into the VIP lounge while all the Mean Girls and haters mill outside, crazed with envy?”

          I suppose it would be futile to point out that nowhere in that graph do I suggest there’s anything *wrong* with being a gay teen or a high-school weirdo, since, elsewhere in this comment thread I outed *myself* as a former high-school weirdo and elsewhere on this site, I shed a lagoon of ink *defending* gay teens (http://trueslant.com/markdery/2010/02/09/jocko-homo-how-gay-is-the-superbowl/).

          Then, too, I suppose the fact that I’ve defended queer culture, throughout my writing life, and held up to the light, in several essays, the homophobic aspects of American masculinity (http://www.alternet.org/story/51626/), wouldn’t get much traction with a Woman on a Mission from God.

          Still, the fact that my focus, in that graph, is on the Bubble World Gaga beckons her fans into—fans who, like herself, may be socially marginalized or demonized in the ways that she was, as a self-styled high-school weirdo—should be obvious, even to someone who long ago gave herself the ideological equivalent of an icepick leucotomy. I mentioned gays because, *by Gaga’s own avowal*, she speaks to and for them, especially young gays. I mentioned weirdos because *she* mentions weirdos. I mentioned “pillow-biting” emo boys because in addition to gays, teenage girls, and the aforementioned weirdos, she seems to attract the neurotic shut-ins, by turns morose and melodramatic—the modifier “pillow-biting” is a funny way of saying “melodramatic”—known as emo boys. Nowhere do I say, or even imply, that there’s anything *wrong* with being gay or weird, although I do have a little fun with emo boys, who seem to be the world’s favorite whipping boys, these days. If that’s a Class A felony, well, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

          Debating you is a fool’s errand, because the Moral Purity of Your Great Cause will not be clouded by mere facts. You’ve got your work cut out for you: policing the blogosphere for thoughtcrime, making the world safe for Stalinist humorlessness, working yourself up into a grand-mal seizure over ideological parking violations.

          Stay classy, kid.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Yeah, no one’s trying to “debate” you on this. Your article was sexist and homophobic. Some of us just wanted to point out that fact. It doesn’t make you a horrible person, lots of liberal folks mess up and do and say sexist and homophobic (and racist, etc.) stuff all the time. But if you wilfully ignore and deny your phobias and prejudices, refuse to deal with them, and insist on being part of the problem instead of part of the solution, well, that does pretty much make you an asshole.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  28. collapse expand

    Good job having a crack at sacred cow Gaga. My only fault, and one that I think is made by many, is calling her music disco related. It is in only the weakest of senses. The sound is neither disco nor Abba influenced, both of which relied on a lavish unfolding or genuine pop hooks, not “Barbie Girl”-esque mundanities. I wrote a couple of pieces about Gaga, the second being a response to actually detail why her music was bad, and not merely why everything else about her was bad. I make the case that her music is influenced by dance music’s post ecstasy shift into big-money crowd pleasing banality…as well as saying everything else about her is indeed awful. Have a read if you wish.

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=387124236276

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=399852926276

Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook
 

My T/S Activity Feed

 
     

    About Me

    I'm a cultural critic. Doom Patrol is a series of drive-by essays, mostly on America in the Age of Anxiety, as the title suggests, but also on whatever wild surmise crosses my mind. I've written for publications ranging from The New York Times Magazine to Rolling Stone, Bookforum to Cabinet. My books include The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century. I'm associated with the concept of "culture jamming," the guerrilla media criticism movement I popularized through my 1993 essay "Culture Jamming," and "Afrofuturism," a term I coined in my 1994 essay "Black to the Future" (in the anthology Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, which I edited). More: http://www.markdery.com/author.html Mail: markdery at verizon dot net.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 52
    Contributor Since: December 2009
    Location:NYC