Reaction to reaction: Lady Gaga edition
I’m ranting off-list, feel free to intervene. I’m not taking the time to edit properly.
RE/Search #12: Modern Primitives was the seed planted into pop culture which rapidly evolved into Betties with sleeve tattoos and the tramp stamp. If you could go into Hawley-Cooke and buy it, it’s pop culture.
No one you’ve heard presented to the public as an artist with which you have not shared a meal is sincere or authentic. Everyone has a crafted image. Yes, even those guys. The crafted image is part of getting your message across. Maybe Bob Zimmerman’s first record was sincere by that definition, but I can’t think of anything since.
To the extent I’ve paid attention to the Lady Gaga project, I can only assume it is intended to be a kind of quasi-subversiveness which appeals to comfortable forty-five-year-old guys who run record companies. Everything I’ve bothered to look at drips with cynicism and disdain for the entire pop paradigm. It compulsively indulges in the worst excesses of focus-grouped media. The kids like it because its a spectacle not unlike professional wrestling.
In the video clip making the rounds this weekend, the product placements are both the real thing and parody. It isn’t an either-or situation. We have seen and are going to see more of this, even if not as conspicuous. Big Boy’s presence in Austin Powers comes to mind. That is the new paradigm of advertising in an era when if you have to blatantly advertise your product must not be very good. To the guys in the front office this is as subversive as wearing fishnet pantyhose with no knickers. I believe the former gets them more excited than the latter.
The old formulas of sex and shock no longer fully function now that pictures of Millennia Aquavelva’s vagoo are as close as your phone. This is simply a work around. The madcap costumes are functions of this. If you want a guarantee of success, use edgy fashion ideas from ten-to-twenty years ago. It has been thus since the Boomers came along.
Modesty is for suckers. This has been true always. It is certainly so today. It is a perverse form of social control reaction to such may explain part of my experience in the 1990s. Perhaps because we are no longer merely reacting to TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, book, nightclub and their innate controls but words and images are transcending our twentieth-century templates and their restrictions. This is either going to be very good or very bad. I no longer have confidence in my ability to decode such things. It will look strange to people who are fortyish today. This is as it should be.