Lady Shut Up: When endlessly declaraing your commodity as identity schtick gets old...
I have been really rethinking Lady Gaga's whole approach and I've come to the conclusion that she's bullshit, even though she would agree that the key to her empire IS bullshit. She opened a concert at Madison Square Garden declaring: “I hate the truth. See how far you can go with bullshit.” And as anyone can guess, it rained bullshit on stage for 2 ½ hours plus. Ok, two reasons, the first: she is ENTIRELY capitalist even if she is throwing the subjectless fetish commodity art right back at its consuming Logoed jaws. A lot of theorists about her deconstructionist style of pop music assume that she intends to subvert the genres and systems in which she is so deeply entrenched. I give her props for trying to subvert it, at least question it through itself, but once a sellout, always a sellout. READ THE CULTURE INDUSTRY GIRL! I suppose she is not choosing sides but simply living out the “Business culture is the culture” contradiction. Product placement is still product placement. And even while she is making fun of Corporate America, the majority of America doesn’t see that, is not aware of it. She has not made a single literal statement about the state of egoistic consumer culture because she feels that it IS the truth; she buys the mask, the image, she believes that behind our consumptive habits, desires, and addictions, we are identity-less, we are nothing. While we would descend into anarchy if our institutions and our cultural identities vanished, we certainly wouldn’t be NOTHING. Perhaps we would finally find ourselves? Think Fight Club (even though it’s essentially the same phenomenon as Gaga just backwards). I do give her props for going on Barbara Walters and Larry King and dressing almost completely like them while the rest of the world paid no attention to that TINY detail. Ok, yes, that was cool. But that’s as far as you can get with her schtick: cool.
Her other intention at shows is to create “a celebration of shame” and live out “a rejection of insecurity.” She proclaims that her shows will free others of insecurity if they just indulge in her techno pop trauma-reliving self-reflexive excess. While I think it is important to discuss and express the “dark” sides of ourselves and our society, simply recreating it without resolution is retarded. She preaches for love and unity and civil disobedience rather than self-defensive violence while making a total of 3 videos in which she poisons men and kills them. I doubt that motif is her claim to fame, and I could really live without that contradiction, because it just screams unresolved issues rather than cultural commentary. Ok, domestic violence sucks, but as we come to learn: if you relive and create the trauma on the other, you are stuck in the same abusive patterns. You gotta want to make yourself grow, rather than keep yourself down in the perpetrator’s gaze that you graft to your own. It’s your decision; I guess you haven’t come to it yet. Perhaps you can spin that lesson into your spectacle at some point? Too sappy? Wisdom is pretty much the opposite of infantile cultures of excess. A rejection of insecurity would be real positive self-empowerment as a resolution (strength), not wallowing in a fantastical repressed-unrepressed spectacle world you believe to be the only real TRUTH. Being obsessed with the self is the surest way to insanity and disunity. And I doubt she's crafting that hidden message through her performance act. It makes me miss the days when Fiona Apple got up on the VMA stage and told everyone the world is bullshit and to go with yourself. I guess I side with ol' Fiona. I mean, can you find moments of clarity through Gaga's message? It's the culture that's disgusting, not you, not me, not us. Why embrace it thoughtlessly or thoughtfully?
Pop Art is important; art and art theory moved from literal representation to impressionistic representation, to abstract expressionism, and then logically descending into art as social commentary and statement.
But does art that reproduces itself as consumer culture in order to make a statement about it really get through to the irrational masses? Nope. It takes a critical mind to do that and critical thought went out the window at the same time social commentary became art.
This is all just debate in my head and stuff, but I really do think I am on to something here. I mean you can tell just from her interview answers that she can't reflect truly on any valid criticisms directed toward her. Guess that's the bullshit effect.