I said Lady Gaga would make an appearance on here at some point – today’s the day. She’s been all over the news today after she wore a dress apparently made out of raw meat to the MTV Video Music Awards. Reporters, fashion critics and animal rights protesters have been lining up to express their outrage or their bemusement. So I thought I’d chip in.
The question everyone’s been asking is, why did she do it? Was it a statement about the way celebrities are bought and sold like cuts of meat? Was it a way of confronting anyone who would look at her, and women in general, as little more than meat? Was it a publicity stunt?
In an interview with Ellen Degeneres, LG said that the outfit was a protest at the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy held by the US armed forces (where gay officers are allowed to serve as long as they keep they are not open about their sexuality). I think she meant that, once we give up on defending our rights, we become worth little more than the meat we’re made out of. She also said that the outfit was open to “many interpretations,” but that for her it was about the protest.
Lady Gaga is a genius when it comes to her image and brand, and also in the way she identifies with her fans. She’s said elsewhere that she deliberately makes herself an outsider because that’s how lots of her fans feel. And whenever she moves the boundaries of what is acceptable, she’s prepared to go a step further to cross them again.
So I think her dress is basically “all of the above.” Whatever point you want her to be making, she might be making it. One thing’s for sure – she’s got people talking. They’re talking about animal rights. They’re talking about fashion. They’re talking about gay people in the military. And, most importantly, they’re talking about her. It’s what every celebrity wants, but few manage with the slightly-insane abandon that LG does. She’s crafted the perfect persona for staying interesting and staying famous. People don’t just let her get away with weirdness – they expect it.
I have two questions:
1. I wonder what it’s like to be Lady Gaga. What’s it like to live in a world of self-induced, carefully-crafted alienation? Is it lonely? And what’s it like to keep pushing the surreal edge further and further? It reminds me a bit of Dali and the surrealists, who embraced surrealism not just as a way of doing art, but as a way of life. Is there a point where the persona ends, or is the whole of her life like that? And what does it say about her view of herself and the world she lives in?
2. Didn’t a dress made of meat really stink?