Lady Gaga: The Artistry of Empowering and Accepting Self
After hundreds of interviews; several television appearances; award ceremony musical performances; releasing three albums in three years, one more popular that the last; several dozens of costume changes and countless variations of appearances, Lady Gaga is everywhere and her exposure reaches around the world. A modern mythical embodiment of identity is the veil that Lady Gaga shrouds herself in and wields with ferocity. With that message and power, Lady Gaga has been able to take hold of any interest she generates for herself, the music industry and anyone who pays attention. With such prominence in society, news and culture, Lady Gaga has her fanatics and detractors, two extremes that justify their beliefs. Many say Lady Gaga is the epitome of self-reflectivity, empowering those that live on the fringe of society: gays, lesbians, transsexuals and all the unaccepted; norms that the minority of society clings to so ferociously. The other says that Lady Gaga shouldn’t be listened too, because her music, persona and gimmick/style become loathsome. Although Lady Gaga’s may be off putting, her underlying message of self-empowerment and acceptance is a positive proclamation for society to embrace.
With Lady Gaga being so prominent in the media, some often pigeonhole her into the usual rut of “is she’s doing this for the fame/money?” The response to this is often a resounding ambiguity, where artistry and business blend together and form some unknown entity. Certainly, Lady Gaga most prominently features her own self as an image of acceptance by physical means, personality and even culturally. She propels the use of her identity, as a known figure in the music industry, and further makes her message of self-empowerment and acceptance more readily accessible for her “little monsters” (a codename for her fans), her influence is edifying and unrelenting. The purely edifying aspect of being a public figure like Lady Gaga is about putting artistry first, to create content that you and others can embrace and let become a part of you in some way shape/form. The business aspect of the music industry, to which Lady Gaga is so entrenched, always finds a way to monetize her music and publicity and then goes on to maximize exposure as well as revenue. Recently, Lady Gaga sold over a million copies of her latest album: “Born This Way” and it’s clear that she’s a profitable entity; such is the double-edged sword of being Lady Gaga. Her albums and concert tours sells like hotcakes because of the music and identity she represents and then the industry tries to maximize by pushing new albums, merchandise, concert tours, etc. as much as they can depending on the willingness of the artist. Lady Gaga walks that fine line; balancing the two aspects of her music and in doing so, she exposes her message across many mediums and towards anyone who’s willing to listen.
Lady Gaga’s music, as well as the fame/artistry aspect, has both positive and negative attributes that revolve around a modern style that often isn’t mass appealing beyond the younger demographics. Often the music industry concerns itself with electro/techno beats, the pounding repetitive rhythm that seems to never end, with an incessant synth backdrop and a totally unnecessary auto-tune sound. As you can tell, I’m not a fan of this style and my preferences go counter to this particular style of sound. Another aspect to Lady Gaga’s music that seems to turn me off is the need for repetition and including her name in the lyrics of her songs. For example, Lady Gaga often incorporates “gaga” into the lyrics of her songs, as she does with “Judas” and “Bad Romance”; although the word can be defined as crazy, as well as infatuated, this double meaning of her name and lyrics creates a self-absorbed nature that detracts from the message. As is with “Speechless”, the message is one of escaping domestic abuse: “I can’t believe how you slurred at me With your half wired broken jaw You popped my heart, seams On my bubble dreams” and that of self-empowerment in “Judas”: “I couldn’t love a man so purely Even prophets forgave his goofy way I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can Build a house or sink a dead body I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down A king with no crown, king with no crown”. This concerns itself with what is the norm in accepted concepts of being loved and loving oneself is often mired in symbolic biblical references and simplistic, as well as bombastic, lyrics.
The proverbial mention of “gaga” in the lyrics of “Bad Romance” are glossed over when, in the music video, Lady Gaga is being displayed for a room full of gawking men, she then wears a spark-shooting bra that sets her (oppressive) male lover on his (conquest) bed ablaze. Surely violent means to escape and become self-empowered, but the fire symbolized a rebirth in which she (and women) can become their true selves. What’s interesting to note is how Lady Gaga’s music, including notoriety and fame, is how she can gather interest to creating music videos. A format that was long thought dead since the millennium, the advent of reality TV on traditional “music channels” had all but lost interest in monetizing that aspect of the music industry. One her latest efforts with “Born This Way”, Lady Gaga utilizes a variety of images that reflect mythical goddess’ of the stars and kaleidoscopic images of vaginal and birthing representation, Lady Gaga is celebrating the self-empowered representation of a woman’s anatomy and feminist ideals of accepting one’s self. These music videos by Lady Gaga often have a warped way of representing self-empowered and acceptance of one’s self as primary concern by the individual and avoiding the need to receive validation by others.
Though Lady Gaga’s appeal seems to be linked to her outlandish nature, the gimmick of her persona seems to be a question of accepting your inner self and become the “monster within” (one of her “little monsters”) and becoming an edifying ideal of self-empowerment, especially if you belong to a sector of that society that often lives on the fringe. Many often wonder if she’s doing this for the artistry or the fame and she certainly walks a fine line between the two without wanting to sacrifice the ideal of self to an embodiment of an industry that often creates oppressing feelings of commercialization. Lady Gaga’s style is often shaped around electro-pop sound that’s slathered in the creatively whitewashing auto-tune and lyrics that borders a fine line of infatuation and self-empowering ideals. Gaga’s music videos are often layered imagery and mythical representation of female-oriented representation that portrays a positive message of self-empowerment and acceptance. Despite Lady Gaga’s gimmicky persona, her music provides a very positive proclamation that betters society.