Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm not so Gaga over the Lady anymore

I defended her when she wore that dress made of meat.

I rallied against people who claimed she was “just another Madonna clone”.

I even applauded when she arrived at the Grammy Awards in an egg and claimed she'd been “incubating” in it for three days.

But after what I saw this week, I just can't take it anymore. I'm officially handing in my Lady Gaga fan club membership. And it's all because of a lollipop.


Sure, fine, whatever.


Let me backtrack a few years. In 2009, just before she became a mega huge pop star, Lady Gaga was the support act for the Pussycat Dolls at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Back then Gaga only had a couple of hits and I barely knew who she was. I was there to review the Pussycat Dolls, but ended up writing the whole article about her.

I remember watching this platinum-haired pixie storming around the stage in a crazy mirrored frock and go-go boots, belting out these super-glossy future-pop songs on a piano, only to be followed by the spray-tanned, silicon-enhanced stripshow of the Pussycat Dolls.

They looked like they'd stepped out of a cheap men's magazine. She looked like a pop star girls could be inspired by. My admiration for her was instant.

She wasn't just a weirdly-dressed spectacle with catchy tunes; she preached a message of acceptance, empowerment, self-love and positivity. No matter your ethnicity, sexuality or appearance, everyone was welcome at the temple of Gaga.

But this week I saw the true temple of Gaga - Gaga's Workshop – and her booming dance music was barely audible over the sound of cash registers ringing.

Gaga's Workshop is a special, limited time only “pop-up boutique” that launched last month in New York department store Barney's. It looks like Adelaide's Magic Cave as designed by Willy Wonka and Andy Warhol, and is filled with every type of Lady Gaga merchandise you can imagine.



And I mean EVERY type. Snow globes, stuffed toys, bath foam, sunglasses, T shirts, keyrings, playing cards, candles, yo-yos, handbags, teacups, iPhone stickers, tape measures (yes, really), hair bows made out of real hair and $575 children's leather jackets with “GAGA” emblazoned on the back in glitter. I felt like I'd walked inside a giant Lady Gaga showbag.

But it wasn't until I spied the lollipop painted to look like the star's face the irony hit me like a studded-glove smack to the face – WE were the suckers.

Here we all were, embracing Lady Gaga's “love thyself” philosophy and celebrating being “born this way”, while simultaneously being sold vastly overpriced lipstick and hair pieces. Not to mention bits of plastic manufactured in China for presumably a fraction of Gaga's price tag. I guess it's easier to feel good about the way you're born if it's not into a poor family in Guangzhou.

Things weren't just overpriced, they were ABSURDLY overpriced. A single gingerbread cookie painted with Gaga's face was $18. A plastic Christmas ornament in her likeness was $25. One pair of plastic goggles clumsily covered in black lace and superglue was $295. I imagined a team of workers sitting in the storeroom with glue guns and bedazzlers, tearing open boxes of cheap crap from China and having a huge laugh.


Seriously, now? $18?


The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth – worse than the one I imagine you'd get if you actually tried to eat her $25 “rock candy earrings” - and I left without buying anything.

Gaga has announced that 25 per cent of proceeds from the Workshop will go to her new Born This Way Foundation which, according to its website, is “a movement to build a brave new world where humanity is embraced, individuals are empowered, and intolerance is eliminated”. Whatever that might mean.

There's been a lot of press about the foundation focusing on anti-bullying strategies, although there's been no hint of what that might actually involve. Perhaps all will become clear when the organisation is officially launched in 2012. When it does, it certainly won't be lacking in funds.

In the meantime, I'll try to get over my shattered love affair with Lady Gaga. Let's call it a bad romance.

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You might also be interested in reading my dissection of Lady Gaga's latest music video for Marry the Night.

This article was originally published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's Sunday liftout on December 10, 2011.



1 comment :

  1. Fair enough! I agree with alot in your post/article! I guess she's marketing her image to the 10th degree while she can? Too much for me though. xx

    ReplyDelete