I have to admit, I briefly joined my nieces, Savannah (7) and Uma (5.5), as a fan of Lady Gaga after Bad Romance was released last year. I thought it was stompin’ good fun, not to mention that it kept me company whenever I thought about my love life. But she has lost me with this:
In a nutshell, it’s a very expensive sophomore art school project. She is trying too hard and the results of her efforts fall short of her earlier video work. And, yes, that last sentence was rewritten several times; Galliano has homos worldwide stopping themselves before they go too far with what they really think.
Even though my nieces are Episcopalian Hindus — also known in the more rarified circles of Tribeca as ‘Piscadoos’ — at the risk of sounding like an avuncular prig, I’m not sure I want them to see filmed reenactments of the Black Goddess Kali giving birth to the cosmos as might be interpreted by H.R. Giger. I can just imagine explaining this video to them.
“Uncle James, what is Lady Gaga doing with her cooch-cooch?”
“She’s letting her vagina enjoy a David Cronenberg moment, darling. And stop calling it cooch-cooch, you’re making it sound like a region in West Bengal.”
“What do you mean what you just said she’s doing with her vagina, then?”
“We’ll talk about it when you’re old enough to watch twisted R-rated psycho-dramas funded by the Canadian government. How about we watch something appropriate, like The Tudors?”
They love The Tudors.
Before I throw Lady Gaga into the deepest malebolge of the inferno for her transgressions against style, and before anyone says, “James! Have mercy on her! She’s an artist, not a fashionista!” let me quote the woman:
Walk, walk, fashion, baby
Work it, move that thing, crazy
She is wearing McQueen lobster-claw platforms and an outfit of his in that scene from the Bad Romance video. Quod erat demonstrandum: bitch has fashion aspirations.
After Bad Romance I was going to suspend disbelief for a second and actually think that Lady Gaga was a new fashion icon, maybe onto something, even though the cigarette sunglasses made me wince and shake my head involuntarily. But she’s not fashion, she’s costume, she’s Halloween colliding with Carnival, and there is a difference. I feel I should elaborate for my new buddy Old Ancestor because I’m sure as a straight man, who probably could care less about fashion, he is confused as to the difference.
Old Ancestor, trying to define fashion is as impossible as trying to define art. However, even though it is hard to say what fashion is, we can definitely say what it isn’t. Fashion is never, ever ugly. That is all you need to know. If you look at something and say, “That’s fuckin’ ugly,” then it isn’t fashion. Boom. Done.
Lady Gaga transgresses against both beauty and fashion. Again, let me elaborate: at a fashion magazine, for example, there are two related departments in editorial, fashion and beauty; the latter is somewhat subservient to the former unless it is a beauty magazine. Beauty is anything to do with what isn’t clothing and accessories, i.e. makeup, skin, nails, and hair. Putting an eyeball on your chin is not beauty. Makeup by Pat McGrath can be weird, but it’s always beautiful.
The same goes for the sometimes subtle difference between fashion and costume:
Back to the sophomoric aspect. James, you say, calling any work of art ‘sophomoric’ is rather facile and completely subjective. Ah-hah! You’re quite right. But I point you to the introductory monologue of the video. What, pray tell, is “the mitosis of the future”? I know what it means because I jumped to dictionary.com to confirm that it was a term from either my high school biology or chemistry class (turned out to be biology), which means, “the usual method of cell division, characterized typically by the resolving of the chromatin of the nucleus into a threadlike form, which condenses into chromosomes, each of which separates longitudinally into two parts, one part of each chromosome being retained in each of two new cells resulting from the original cell.” Clearly Gaga hasn’t been out of school long enough.
Listen, as a writer, I believe there are infinite combinations of words that you can use in a stylish, meaningful, even fashionable way, but “mitosis of the future” isn’t one of them. And no, it isn’t Dada, either, Gaga. The phrase sounds good, but it doesn’t advance civilization one jot, doesn’t comment on anything, doesn’t presage a dichotomic future, nada, although it probably has introduced legions of your dimmer fans to dictionary.com.
As for Nick Knight’s direction, well, I am a colossal fan of his still photography. I poach his images all the time for my presentations. I would kill for his career. But his film work? Meh. My inner jury is still out for an extended lunch break. My feeling is that when it comes back, it’ll be hung. I would really have to see how he does with a full-length narrative drama before I let him off the hook. I don’t know why photographers usually have such a hard time with that, but they do. Well, I do know why, but I’m under a self-imposed Galliano-inspired gag order so I’m staying quiet.
Now that I’ve pulped the ultra-hardworking, supremely talented Lady Gaga, let me just say that she is a formidable entertainer. She is just not stylish right now, but we have high hopes for her after graduation.
Speaking of freaks who sing, a big thank you to Trader Joes for inspiring my shopping experience with Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round this afternoon. I don’t know many songs, so it’s nice to have something to sing and bop to in the dairy section. I also like to be reminded of when I was dizzier and had hair; in moments like that, I can still feel it on my head like a phantom limb after an amputation.
Of course, no excursion to a store or indeed anywhere in Hollywood would be complete without a run-in with a schizophrenic. Today’s quote comes from a chronically enraged African American lady as she strode through the parking lot on her way to CVS Pharmacy, hopefully to pick up her anti-psychotics:
“I don’t care if you’re black, white, red or blue. Fuck all of you!”