She’s Not Madonna

I am decidedly not Team Gaga,* so this amuses me:

*I’m not anti-Gaga either, I just don’t care either way (although I love the head-to-toe Alexander McQueen getup she wore in her “Bad Romance” video).

[h/t Jezebel]

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About Melissa

I love donuts. Chocolate iced, hold the sprinkles.
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4 Responses to She’s Not Madonna

  1. Julian Real says:

    I’m with you, Melissa. On one hand, if we’re (the dominant “we’re” that is, not you and me specifically) going to critique composer posers and clones of classic artists in the arts, we’d have a long list to contend with.

    So many white artists ripping off Black artists musically. From tapping to rapping, white performers have been getting most of the acclaim and virtually all of the profits. Fred Astaire said the best tap dancer of his era wasn’t him. The best tapping was being done by the Nicholas Brothers. And how many people know who they were? “Fayard and Harold” don’t exactly conjure up the amazing images and fond memories that “Fred and Ginger” do. And I love Fred and Ginger, don’t get me wrong!!!

    Ava Gardner was cast to basically BE Lena Horne in Show Boat.

    The whole history of the performing arts in the U.S. especially is white artists ripping off artists of color. Also in the visual arts: where did Keith Haring get his ideas? And I liked him too.

    White artists then multiply ad infinitum, or ad nauseam, depending on one’s own tastes.

    If the Beatles were new on the scene today and attempted to rapidly change their sound with each new album as they did in the ’60s, they would be threatened by a music industry CEO.

    The Monkees were an intentional clone of the Beatles. The Partridge Family was taken from the actual singing family, the Cowsills. The Osmonds were being packaged like a white Jackson 5.

    I’m not dissing any of them. I watched the Jackson 5ive’s cartoon series in the early ’70s, and I watched Donny and Marie’s variety show in the latter half of the ’70s. And Sonny and Cher too. And Tony Orlando and Dawn. At least with the latter two shows we got something other than ,b>white and whiter. But “originality” has not the corporate media’s goal for many decades, well before mass conglomeration.

    The issue here, it seems, is just how closely someone can copy someone else’s moves, gestures, costumes, sound, aesthetics, and controversies and be considered “an original”. But since corporate capitalist music doesn’t “do” original, this is rather a moot point. I do think Gaga is rather flagrantly misappropriating Madonna’s career. But all the images that Madonna created existed before she made them more famous. Nothing about her sexual persona was unique. And it fueled the likes of Camille Paglia to cheer on Madonna while putting down feminists who were fighting for women’s human rights. Audre Lorde and her sisters in the 50s and 60s had already broken all the rules, bent gender this way and that, and the rest, but not in a video era.

    What Madonna did was fuse a white woman taking control of her own career with an amazing ability to determine what would grab an audience, possibly by the crotch, and sell, sell, sell because she knew which aesthetics were already selling through the roof: namely, those in corporate pornography. She marketed herself in incredibly successful ways.

    But marketing oneself isn’t new. And being marketed is very, very old. Pimps do it all the time.

    I hear Lady Gaga say something about how she’s known for taking her clothes off on stage, proclaiming this as something “new”… or something. What’s new about that? What’s new about ANYTHING she’s doing? What I’ll credit her with is being a performance artist with some of the most elaborate costumes I’ve seen from a singer/performer. But Elton John, Labelle, Cher, and Prince have all been there and done that. I do look forward to seeing what garments she’s designed and manages to actually wear while performing, though.

    But promoting (as Gaga does) the message “we’re all okay, no matter how much we feel like an outsider” isn’t new, and coming from a white person isn’t all that progressive, especially from within the corporate music world, which makes that message into a joke, regardless of how sincerely Gaga communicates it.

    I recommend reading Sister Outsider, especially the essay “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”, which white and male supremacist corporate moguls, whether producers or performers, cannot do much with, because what she’s talking about is so beyond marketing.

    I wish more white people across gender and sexuality would engage with Lorde’s work, particularly with Lorde’s discussion of eroticism when going ga-ga over Gaga, because in my white-dominant queer community, you’d think Lorde never lived. And it appears her spirit and politics will not be resurrected by white folks any time soon.

  2. Melissa says:

    Sister Outsider! Thanks for reminding me. I cannot believe I still haven’t read that book.

  3. Julian Real says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Maybe Lady Gaga would want to read it! For all of Gaga’s discussion of respecting difference, and sexual expression, and breaking silences–but without ever touching on white and male supremacy and anti-lesbian heterosexism, and the differences between the erotic and the pornographic, and how to resist ways of being that white male supremacy enforces, mandates, and makes compulsory.

    Come to think of it, Pink has done far more outrageously and genuinely politically (patriarchally) incorrect things with her music and videos than has Lady Gaga. For example, what’s more kick-ass in corporately sponsored white women’s pop music than this?!



    I think there’s always got to be a few people who Hollywood and mass media go smoked nuts over–currently L.G. and Justin Bieber–until the next few years when they are summarily replaced, often with such a thud that major depression sets in for the artist who was, just two years prior, so adored. I will be truly amazed if Lady Gaga has the staying power of Madonna. Or, even more so, Cher and Patti LaBelle! (Or Elton John, or Prince, or Pink.) I wonder if the corporate U.S. will even allow her to.

    (Note to self: find out if L.G has read Sister Outsider.)

    And, when you do, I’d love, love, love to discuss it with you!!!

    For any visitors here who don’t remember Labelle, this one image (link below) should demonstrate the definition of “been there, done that” (with regard to what Gaga is being described as being innovative for doing). As Andrea Dworkin wrote over twenty years ago, we in the U.S. live in a dominant culture, a country, with “no memory and no mind”. Witness that here:

    http://irom.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/labelle1.jpg

    Maybe Patti and Madonna get royalties from Lady Gaga’s performances.

  4. Julian Real says:

    Oh, and I surely don’t want to leave the impression that I’m anti-Madonna. I adore her and have ever since she came on the scene. Saw her in concert. Have a tattoo of her face on my arm. Kidding about the last part. Not about the rest, though. 🙂

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