I have a love-hate relationship with the First Lady of Pop. Stefani Germanotta – Gaga to her friends – is at once a model of empowerment and individualism, and a self-generating publicity machine feeding on the same old clichés we Little Monsters should be accustomed to by now.
In her video to ‘Born This Way,’ Gaga cavorts, wriggles, gyrates and quite convincingly simulates masturbation in nothing but her fetching undies. She gleefully trips around the set, crying out that she was born this way, God made her perfectly, and you can feel that too even if you are Lebanese (her words). You can’t fault her consistency – never afraid to flash the flesh, Gaga has been celebrating her innate bodily perfection since she burst into our lives and the media’s ever-hungry lens.
It doesn’t take a particularly keen eye to spot something odd, however. It’s hard to hide anything when you’re dancing around in (almost) your birthday suit, especially a pair of skeletal ‘horns’ which made their debut appearance sticking out of Gaga’s shoulders and cheekbones in the video (which is full of much weirder and more wonderful sights, I admit). “They’re not prosthetics. They're my bones.They come out when I'm inspired,” she explained to Bazaar magazine recently, revealing that she may be many things, but checked into reality she ain’t.
What Gaga does well is challenge our aesthetics. Her fashion is about controversy, and challenging us to expect the unexpected, even if it makes us uncomfortable (her new horns give her an uncanny alien look). It becomes problematic, however, for a prominent artist to base much of their appeal on stage-craft and artificiality, and to simultaneously encourage her fans to love themselves as they are.
Watching her video, I couldn’t work out what I was being sold. It took me a while, but eventually I had to turn off in disappointment when the veneer of originality wore off and I realised Gaga doesn’t even know, herself. Like so many vapid pop songs, Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ whirled me round, left a happy little trail in my mind, then quickly faded. Because I really don’t care what she says, I will never hold Stefani Germanotta up as a champion of true individuality until she drops the moniker, rips out her horns and ditches the theatre that is her ‘look.’ Until then, she is nothing more than a bearer of a false, if popular and catchy, message.