When Lady Gaga and her entourage traversed the red carpet at Sunday’s Grammys in the form of a human-sized egg carried on a litter, the result was not as endearing as the last human/egg scenario I can think of: Robin Williams, in the character of Mork, bursting out of an egg spaceship in the opening credits of the ’70s sitcom Mork & Mindy. Now that she’s getting a taste of backlash, evidenced by, if nothing else, the reaction on Twitter, perhaps Gaga would be wise to adopt that show’s strategy and give her fans the same exact thing week after week. But it should probably not be herself inside an egg.
What was so wrong with this picture? A team of women and men with horns threatening to poke out from under their skin, among them the world’s biggest pop star, curled up inside an egg, moved along the row of flashing cameras in flavescent yellow silicon shower curtains barely hiding flesh-toned underwear, the women in lucite platform heels and the men in sturdy beige desert boots. It was the mode of transportation that irked, because the people usually carried on such contraptions are nobility or royalty, and perhaps colonists. The only form of litter (or palinquin, if you want to consider the egg to be this particular noblewoman’s protective covering), is a makeshift stretcher-type device that carries the wounded from battle. Perhaps this is what Gaga meant by her entrance.
The most interesting thing about Lady Gaga is the words that come out of her mouth, followed closely by her wardrobe. Her tranquil, sexually celebratory outlook on life has made for some of the most memorable magazine profiles, television interviews, and acceptance speeches of the past decade. It’s not so much about the music, which she has acknowledged, once saying she’d rather be remembered for wearing a dress made of bubbles than, say, her ASCAP membership. Pulling a Madonna with her latest single, “Born This Way” — right down to details like musical key and phrasing — she’s really driven this point home. But if the music isn’t great — or, more importantly in this case, refreshing — the performance will suffer, and last night’s staging of “Born This Way” was nothing special. Sporting the exact hairstyle of Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er — flowing ash-blonde locks, invisible brows and cropped bangs — Gaga seemed fatigued and uninspired. Maybe this egg hatched too soon.
Gaga is very good at disappearing, and one wonders why she doesn’t do it for longer. Last night’s emotional tribute to her team and family sounded a bit like a school girl pining for the summer holidays. Part of the reason she’s back so soon is no doubt because she wants to keep her fans satiated, but as she suggested with her shout-out to Whitney Houston last night, it’s also because she’s unsure of herself. One way to become more sure of oneself is to keep putting stuff out there or, put another way, to hang out in the spotlight as often as possible.
Another way is to have as many real experiences as you can. I don’t think any of us, but particularly the fans and spectators behind Egg-Gate, would be upset if Lady Gaga took longer vacations. But it’s not because we want her to go away forever. On the contrary, I am afraid of what the world might do to Lady Gaga, and I suspect that the slowest, safest way to longevity as a famous person involves haunting dimly-lit places where tea is served. Gaga is, of course, not immune to vulnerability, insecurity, or pain; her heart-on-sleeve approach to life is probably her most endearing quality, and also her loudest. But this makes her one of the few celebrities that I genuinely worry about. Hats off to Gaga for creating a sense of foreboding out of a person being carried down a red carpet inside an egg. But it’s a sense of foreboding nonetheless.