Camille Paglia is at it again–this time going after Lady GaGa–who, it turns out is not really a lady. The Issue? GaGa is a representation of death–a sexless and violent idol that is confused, imprisoned, and without identity. Paglia does not stop there. She also strikes at GaGa’s fans. The problem with the the article at the Sunday Times is that the entire thing is not posted.
Is Paglia’s a devastating critique of Gaga as Drudge and the Times seems to think? Paglia goes after GaGa for being a copycat, and a not very imaginitive one at that. I confess to not really listen to GaGa, though I have heard her songs. Paglia, though does seem to be onto something when it comes to her music, lyrics, and theatrics. I watched the “Alejandro” video which confirms in my mind one such GaGa critique–it is a blatant rip off of Madonna, and it is dark and confused as a music video awash in banality and vapidity. The thing is in Paglia’s critique she praises without qualification, Madonna. But, without Madonna, would there be a GaGa? Unlikely. Is not Madonna the precursor to all this?
Also, really, do we really expect rock-n-roll/pop music to not sound like every other song we have ever heard? It is a simple mathematical certainty that four chords in a 4/4 beat limit the possibilities of an original tune. It is the most simplistic form of music and, to wax Ancient, speaks to the most simple in our souls. In fact, new sounding songs will not be found under such mathematical constraints.
But, at any rate, to a pithy snip:
Peeping dourly through all that tat is Gaga’s limited range of facial expressions. Her videos repeatedly thrust that blank, lugubrious face at the camera and us; it’s creepy and coercive. Marlene and Madonna gave the impression, true or false, of being pansexual. Gaga, for all her writhing and posturing, is asexual. Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional.
Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…
Gaga is in way over her head with her avant-garde pretensions… She wants to have it both ways – to be hip and avant-garde and yet popular and universal, a practitioner of gung-ho “show biz”. Most of her worshipers seem to have had little or no contact with such powerful performers as Tina Turner or Janis Joplin, with their huge personalities and deep wells of passion.
Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.
Gaga’s fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter.