22 June 2011

Identity politics

Lady Gaga: “Essentialized conceptions of gender, sexuality, and other identity categories compel a celebration of diversity. Also, at Haus of Gaga we're bored with Matthew Barney videos and have started watching a lot of Kenneth Anger and Ken Russell instead.”

Weird Al: “Your Ladyship, if anyone is a demonstration that gender, sexuality, and other identity categories are performative, it's you. Also, don't go all highbrow, you're ripping off Madonna's act more than anybody else's, and I started doing that before you were born.”

Advantage: Weird Al.

On the behalf of all Generation X cultural theory nerds, I'd like to offer our apologies to the Millennials. We tried really hard to sort this identity stuff out in the ’80s and ’90s, but it's harder than it looks. And I'm afraid it's not getting any easier; now we have the transgender liberation movement trying to make both arguments at the same time ...

6 comments:

Tori said...

So, in a sense, Haus of Gaga is reviewing the great cultural influences of my pre-identity politics youth.

Jonathan Korman said...

If that means that in another few years Lady Gaga and Weird Al will have an acrimonious debate about whether feminist pornography is possible, I think I'm in favour of it.

Amy Hale said...

I admit, I am still unsure of the Gaga corpus. Yes, she's on my workout playlist, and some of the visuals are great, but I feel like Madonna still has the edge. Maybe this is like the Magnolia syndrome: a bunch of people giving critical acclaim to a crappy movie because they have no real critical apparatus for a lot of cultural material. Wow, that was elitist.

syncreticmystic said...

Lady Gaga is one of those people I sort've appreciate, but like Weird Al said, Madonna's early work is a living memory for me. I want to see Gaga do something which isn't just a tribute to the past, especially since a lot of her audience has no clue it is that.

-Soli, "cranky old woman"

Jonathan Korman said...

Amy, that's why I call Lady Gaga “clever” rather than smart. She reminds me very much of a comment a friend of mine made about the later Matrix movies revealing that the Wachowskis were not so smart as we hoped, they were just like a febrile child shuffling Tarot cards who happened to get a good mix on their first draw.

Her Ladyship is good at manipulating the media machine, and she's good at brewing a thick soup of symbolic signifiers ... but it's not clear to me that her work signifies very much at all beyond Liberate Freak Nation. A worthy project, but not a sophisticated one.

nerthuschild said...

Once upon a time, there was a young woman in Brooklyn. She went to drama school and found that she liked it and it made singing a lot more fun. And she really liked being the center of attention. Later she found out that she was so good at performance and she could be a star and it was still fun and she could make money and all that stuff too. Just before she got lost in her own image and things got really crazy, she started to reveal more of herself. She did strange things like judge a dancing contest and caught herself revealing bits of who she really is/was emotionally and maybe no one was more surprised than her. then she wowed them singing pop standards with a cultural icon (Tony Bennett) and showed what a really stylish unique spin she could put on an old tune and surprised herself and everybody else again. Building a big public persona and then having fun allowing it to mutate must be challenging. Most of us get to do this stuff private.