Vanessa at Feministing.com today draws attention to a recent Lady Gaga interview in the L.A. Times that does an incredible job of articulating the larger meaning behind Gaga’s shape-shifting, MTV award-winning performances. It’s easy to dismiss Lady Gaga as a one-dimensional pop sensation solely because of her mainstream popularity-we’re not so much in the habit of looking at pop stars as performance artists. And it’s always slightly obnoxious when stars anoint themselves with icon status, which Gaga essentially does in this interview ("I don't see myself as ever being like anybody else.") But there’s something very sound about writer Ann Powers' parallel between Gaga’s stunning physical transformations and the work of photographer Cindy Sherman , a woman who has had plastic surgery for the sake of her ever-evolving self-portraits (and whom Gaga admires). Both women are in some ways committing a deliberate bastardization of the feminine ideal. Lady Gaga’s lyrics reveal the same motivation: an upfront, no-apologies-necessary command of her rampant sexuality. She’s a freak bitch, baby.
Even more exciting is Gaga’s stance on feminism. Sadly, it’s a coup if a star even calls herself a feminist in the first place. But Gaga seems to have a very real, personal stake in the claim, according to the L.A. Times :
During nearly two hours of conversation, she not only reiterates her assertion of total originality but also finesses it until it's both a philosophical stance about how constructing a persona from pop-cultural sources can be an expression of a person's truth -- à la those drag queens Gaga sincerely admires -- and a bit of a feminist act.
"I'm getting the sense that you're a little bit of a feminist, like I am, which is good," she said. "I find that men get away with saying a lot in this business, and that women get away with saying very little . . . In my opinion, women need and want someone to look up to that they feel have the full sense of who they are, and says, 'I'm great.'"
Gaga does view her music as a liberating force. "When I say to you, there is nobody like me, and there never was, that is a statement I want every woman to feel and make about themselves," she continued. "I don't make it as a defense. I make it as, OK, guys, it's been two years, and I've made a lot of music, and I know my greatness is individual. And I want every woman to be able to say that.
As if I needed fodder beyond the futuristic, funeral pod-dance that is the "Bad Romance" video to fuel my Gaga love.
Photograph of Lady Gaga by John Shearer/Getty Images for MOCA.