I got invited to this fabulous party last night in the Hollywood Hills, but instead of going I ultimately decided that seeing Lady Gaga on the VMAs was much more pressing. How could I miss her white carpet arrival and whatever obstacle course she’d be wearing? Just how many outfits would she change into/out of, anyway?
Lady Gaga is so famous it’s hard to imagine what pop culture would be like without her. Anybody remember those pre-Gaga days? But despite her explosive level of fame, my greatest worry is that soon enough people will get sick and tired her.
The video for “Bad Romance,” which scooped up the VMA for “Best Cinematography” among others, has been seen 276, 303, 964 times. 276 million! Everybody from soldiers in Iraq to the cast of Glee to my baby daddy Joseph Gordon-Levitt has covered that song. Sometimes even I bust out “RA RA RAH AHH AHHH AHHHHH” (monster claw) waiting for the subway. All told, “Bad Romance” is a song that it makes it hard to think about other similar generation-defining hits like “Baby One More Time” or “Bye, Bye, Bye.”
Naturally, then, Lady Gaga is a game changer, and we live in a post-Gaga moment. From here on out, all new pop stars compete with her for attention, camera time and air play. At last night’s VMAs alone she got more camera time than the camera itself. So I guess it doesn’t matter how fabulous your new song is, or how crazy your outfit is. You won’t out-Gaga the Lady, don’t even try.
So to me the next logical question is, Okay, well what’s the side effect of all this exposure? When will people get sick of Gaga?
That’s the brilliant thing about Our Lord and Savior: she’s clearly already thought about all this. And if I understand her marketing strategy, the answer is that people may never get sick of her. Gaga builds her whole image on what campy thing she’ll do, wear, sing about, say or create next. Gaga doesn’t exist in the now, she lives in a future parallel universe and we’re all busy trying to catch up to her. Gaga fans are like, Okay, I’ve seen that outfit. Where’s the next? Whew, now that I’ve mastered all the words to this song, when’s the next one out? That’s not just about aesthetics or fashion or publicity. It’s about newness, and we are a culture obsessed with perpetual newness, a constant washing out of whatever was new before. The newest club, the newest bag, the latest fashion, the hottest actor. And how can you tire of something that’s new every time you see it? In that way, I think Gaga is less like a pop star and more like a television series. Each of her new appearances is like a brand new episode and we’re all tuning in to follow this weeks’ plot.
At last nights VMAs everybody basically sat on pins and needles waiting to see what Gaga would wear, even asking her about how many outfits she’d have. “Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise” she said, coyly. The first look, a head-to-toe from the late Alexander McQueen’s final collection, and one of the outfits from her September Vanity Fair profile, was a voluminous red, yellow, and green dress, sprinkled with a spiky head piece and the now infamous 12-inch gold armadillo heels. She wore and danced around in those impossible shoes like it was nobody’s business. And when I saw her I literally queened out in my tiny apartment, clapping, squealing and going “Yeeeeesssssssssss!!!!!!” to no one in particular.
But the real buzz of the night was that Gaga had been nominated for an amazing 13 awards – thirteen! – with sometimes two videos in a single category, and the most of anybody else in the history of the VMAs. I don’t know why anybody else even showed up; obviously Gaga was about to win everything. Ultimately she took home eight Moon Men, meaning that I guess now is not the best time to be a pop star. The funniest thing, though, was that every time she won an award, the camera would automatically zero in on her competitors facial expressions, like Ke$ha or Katy Perry, and the look on their faces was like “mmmhmm, this bitch…”
When Gaga won “Video of the Year” for “Bad Romance,” she dropped the name of her third album: Born This Way. She even busted out a few bars right there on the spot, making her one of the only people the whole night who actually sang live!
Born this way? What does that mean? Does that mean she really does have a penis? It’s a pretty cryptic album title. But it turns out “I was born this way” was a fabulous disco hit originally by Valentino and made popular by Carl Bean in 1975. If that’s any indication, it looks like Gaga is about to go disco and get even more festive, even gayer than she already is.
And who doesn’t love THE GAY!