As I noted here, Paglia’s piece on Lady GaGa is insightful, and provocative. The debate has taken off here. I had the opportunity to read the entire article from Paglia via Lexis/Nexis, and it is indeed a devastating critique of GaGa and her narcissism and vapid banality. I had the opportunity to talk with students before two of my classes today on whether GaGa is beautiful, but many did not want to dwell on that. They wanted to speak how she was “cool” or “awesome” or is an “artist outside the box.” One person did state that beauty was in the eye of the person who finds the thing/person beautiful. When I asked if there were standards to beauty–as in what IS beauty really–there was not much discussion, but a lengthy pause. That is a good thing.
GaGa claims to take her style from a whole host of others, including Warhol and Bowie. I have mentioned Bowie before, but the Warhol group certainly does not apply here either, and it is incorrect of her to identify herself with the certain iconoclastic Warhol (and by extension Lou Reed). She does not have the creative sense to juxtapose viciousness with flowers (see below) that Warhol inspired. She is hardened and into pain for its own sake. It is as if, in a Fight Club sort of way, that there is only pain left in the modern world in order for us to remember we are human. Pain is all that is left of humanity. Unerotic, and in search for logos, she is tilting to destruction–this is why her videos are so violent and gruesome. There is no humanity, there is only pain, and that is beyond “performance art.”
Gaga may be bolder than her self-claimed heroes. She has stepped across the line and into places they (Madonna, Bowie, Warhol) refused to go. She has the courage of their convictions, perhaps. Paglia seems to be saying that hers is a sexless society bent on self-destruction.