Let's just be honest: Lady Gaga acted like an asshole at Citi Field earlier this week.
If it were any other celebrity on earth who pulled the stunt Gaga just pulled: showing up dressed in a highly recognizable video costume and then reacting to paparazzi interest by stripping down, kissing someone in her entourage, and flipping the bird—all for the sake of expressing anger over the fact that the paparazzi were paying attention to her in the first place, the entire internet would be demanding that she do a tour of the major talk shows, expressing her sincerest apologies to Mr. Met, to baseball in general, and, of course, to the children, who always need to be apologized to whenever celebrities act like jerks.
But Gaga has created an image for herself that allows her to side-step such public outrage: for every comment expressing irritation at her behavior in our recent threads on the Citi Field mini-scandal, there were others debating Gaga's use of performance art, her mockery of the paparazzi, her right to wear whatever the hell she wants to Citi Field, and her dedication to keeping up her image, no matter what. She has built a shield of confusion, making herself infallible in the eyes of some fans, who see everything she does as art and commentary, rather than behavior indicative of someone who maybe needs to check herself and/or is on the path to perhaps wrecking herself.
Gaga, naturally brushed off the scandal using her typical mix of smartass commentary "A middle finger is more New York than a corporate ambush," and flair for the overdramatic, "I bleed for my hometown, and I'd die for my fans," which is a nice sentiment, yes, but it doesn't really have anything to do with being an asshole at a Mets game.
But what if it had been Miley Cyrus that started a ruckus at a Mets game? Or Rihanna? Or Katy Perry? Or Drake? Or Justin Bieber? Or Beyonce? Or Taylor Swift? What if any other famous person on EARTH had pulled the crap Gaga pulled at the ballpark last week. Would we be debating the artistic merit of flipping the bird to the paparazzi and bitching about camera attention when one shows up to a major league stadium dressed in a costume from a very popular music video? Or would we just be shaking our heads and talking about rehab and nervous breakdowns and career suicides and the like? Does Gaga get a pass because she's smart enough to remain in character and not allow the public to really see enough of her private life to know what's real or what's performance? Or because we're so enamored of the notion of a pop star who is clever enough to turn obnoxious paparazzi interactions into a statement on celebrity culture? Or is everyone totally full of shit and none of Gaga's actions at Citi Field were actually a statement on anything at all other than the fact that you probably shouldn't aim a camera at her when she's trying to watch a baseball game?
Perhaps people are willing to let Gaga get away with things other celebrities would NEVER be able to get away with because she provides something American celebrity culture is currently desperately lacking: mystery. The first ten years of the 00s had celebrities rushing to tell us everything about themselves, sharing everything from their sex lives to the frequency of their bowel movements. We seem to turn to Gaga as an alternative, someone who mocks and satirizes celebrity culture (or so the story goes). But Gaga's still human. And everybody's an asshole sometimes. Being a jerk and flipping the bird at a baseball game isn't necessarily performance art as much as a reminder that stars—even Gaga herself—are just like us.