"I guess what I am trying to do is take the monster and turn the monster into a fairy tale."
You might not love her music, or her antics, or her performance art, or her self-aggrandizing soundbytes, or even her manipulation of the spotlight. You might have no patience for the Britney-Warhol-glam-rock shenanigans or the Kabuki sendups or the blood or the accent. You can argue, as many have, that she's not doing anything others haven't done before her. You might just not give a damn about the latest pop-culture phenomenon. Well and good. But never let it be said that those who embrace Lady Gaga have no good cause. Even leaving aside the acoustic performances that sunk a thousand skeptics or the sunglass-free interview that won over Lindsay, take a few quotes from this L.A. Times profile:
"I'm getting the sense that you're a little bit of a feminist, like I am, which is good," she said. "I find that men get away with saying a lot in this business, and that women get away with saying very little . . . In my opinion, women need and want someone to look up to that they feel have the full sense of who they are, and says, 'I'm great.' " Gaga's casual use of the term "feminist" was interesting; like many female pop stars, she's rejected the term in the past. But she's evolving. She is growing "more compassionate," she says, and focusing more on ideas of community, especially the one formed by her core fan base, a mix of gay men, bohemian kids and young women attracted by Gaga's style and her singable melodies.
Her new songs address serious themes like women's shame about their bodies and the need for open communication in relationships; her often physically distorting costumes show that the pursuit of the feminine ideal is far from natural. Her commitment to confront the changing notion of what's "natural" puts Gaga on the same road traveled by artists she admires, such as the photographer Cindy Sherman. Her frank talk about how female artists aren't expected to write their own songs or about how young women are afraid to ask for what they need from their sexual partners inches her toward a new articulation of feminism.
"Celebrity life and media culture are probably the most overbearing pop-cultural conditions that we as young people have to deal with, because it forces us to judge ourselves...I guess what I am trying to do is take the monster and turn the monster into a fairy tale."
It's a mistake, and silly, to ascribe to a 23-year-old pop singer with a two-year-old career the qualities of visionary or icon, or even give her shtick too much analysis. She's going to do - and probably say - many ridiculous things before she's through. But taken as a celebrity with a lot of influence, she's already using it for a lot more good - and speaking more plainly - than many stars twice her age. She's embraced the f-word, only a few months after rejecting it, and that's a powerful statement in itself. There are far worse people we could love, is all I'm saying, and no one should need to justify that anymore.
Frank Talk With Lady Gaga [LA Times]
Lady GaGa - Poker Face (Acoustic Live @ AOL Sessions)[YouTube]