Pop-Culture | Posted by Dina L on 03/10/2011

GaGa: The Image of a Pop-Star

I was lucky enough to recently see Lady Gaga in concert–it was fantastic. She was fantastic (her voice is really good), the show was fantastic, and the world that she created onstage was fantastic. If you’ve ever seen her live or in a video, you know what I mean. If you ever, ever get a chance to see her in concert, go–it was that good.

One thing that stood out about her show was the way the she constantly reminded the audience of the fact that she–or at the least the version of herself that she is onstage–is fake. She is a reflection of what her listeners and audience expect and what from her; she is there to be whatever we want and need her to be. Towards the beginning of the show, she spoke this, what she calls “The Manifesto of Little Monster,” aloud to us:

“There is something heroic about the way my fans operate their cameras. So precisely, so intricately and so proudly. Like Kings writing the history of their people, is their prolific nature that both creates and procures what will later be perceived as the kingdom. So the real truth about Lady Gaga fans, my little monsters, lies in this sentiment: They are the Kings. They are the Queens. They write the history of the kingdom and I am something of a devoted Jester. It is in the theory of perception that we have established our bond, or the lie I should say, for which we kill. We are nothing without our image. Without our projection. Without the spiritual hologram of who we perceive ourselves to be or rather to become, in the future. When you are lonely, I will be lonely too. And this is the fame.”

What’s interesting about Lady Gaga, and what makes me love her, is that she is not just a pop-star with an image. She is an image–she epitomizes the postmodern idea that simulation and visual media can substitute for the real. There is no “real” Lady Gaga–she loudly proclaimed last night that the one thing she hates more than money is truth.

And yet, somehow, she constantly reminded us last night of the true and harsh realities of the world we live in. She talked about homeless LGBTQ youth, about societal pressures to be thin, and about people who feel they have no place in society–and proclaimed her show as a place where all the problems in society could come to die, proudly telling us that her Monster Ball is a safe-haven for all the freaks in the world. She blended her fake world with reality in order to subvert that reality.

If it were anyone else, I would have found a lot of the things Lady Gaga said last night to be cliche, and expected a lot of people in the audience to grimace. But when she said things like “I want you to walk out of her tonight not loving me more, but loving yourselves more,” the only response she got was resounding cheers. I was amazed at just how many people really do look to Gaga as affirmation of the fact that it’s okay to be weird and out of place–she’s really struck a chord.

A lot of pop stars are about image. But in embracing that fact and making it clear to her audience that she is simply creating an image for them, she has somehow been able to create the ultimate escape for her audience. It’s as if the very fact that she has been able to win us over with her fake world of acceptance and equality makes that world seem possible in real life.

PS: Gaga is also awesome and does a ton of charity work. She really does try to change the world we live in–she’s not all talk.

Dina also writes for From the Rib

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  • O'Phylia @ at 8:03 pm, March 10th, 2011

    A Gaga article that isn’t fussing about how she’s too popular? I. Am. Shocked. And pleasantly shocked. This is incredibly well written. Kudos.

  • Natalia @ at 3:20 pm, March 11th, 2011

    Honestly I hate Lady Gaga. Don’t get me wrong, I do think she’s very talented and creative but her constant need to be the center of attention definitely overshadows those elements. Yeah I get that you’re creative and “different” but just be…instead of trying so hard to remind everyone.

    Having said that, of course I respect anyone who is a fan of her. I like her music, but as a person, she gets on my nerves.

    Also I have a problem with seeing straight people who become gay icons. I actually don’t know if she’s bisexual, but still.

  • HelloHello @ at 3:51 pm, March 13th, 2011

    Agreed. I’ve been to the Monster Ball and I can say it’s been one of the most amazing experiences in my life, with all the 8 hours driving it took me to get there :) Gaga has literally changed my life and the way I think about the world, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. There are university courses on her and the sociology of fame. At scientific week at my high school, one of the topics was “From Plato to Lady Gaga”. That’s something. To add to the awesomeness, she had also proclaimed herself a feminist (in the Showstudio interview).

    And Natalia, yes, she is bisexual. Poker Face talks about her having fantasies about women while having sex with men. And her clothes aren’t only about getting attention, they’re about DIRECTING attention. The meat dress, for example, was a statement on objectification, LGBTQ rights and fur. And had many other philosophical interpretations too.

  • Quinc @ at 9:19 pm, March 13th, 2011

    It’s interesting to hear that she would express these sorts of ideas right there to all her fans at a concert. I feel it is largely true of any celebrity. I feel that people become famous because they capture people’s imagination, and certain cultural archetypes, though this isn’t always a good thing, also note that they can influence culture. No celebrity would be a celebrity unless they were what their particular set of fans wanted to see.

    The fact that she is into charity and dealing with social issues, even as far as mentioning them onstage is absolutely awesome. Sometimes people make fun of celebrities who try to help without understanding the issues, but it still helps. Hopefully she’s tried to educate herself, or at least has an expert in her entourage.

    Perhaps she does over-do the “I’m Unique!” trope, but I see no value in trying to “fit in” either. Her music is easily the best dance music out there. Her outfits are more silly than inspiring, but I don’t think that earns her all the hate she gets. Maybe they accuse her of having a penis because her outfits are neither masculine nor feminine?

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