Paglia: Not gaga for Lady Gaga

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Camille Paglia had an article in The Sunday Times yesterday (subscription required) about pop icon Lady Gaga and — to put it mildly — Paglia is not a fan. She calls the singer the first major star of the digital age, but believes she’s a charlatan, a “manufactured personality,” and unsexy. 

Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all — she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…

Interesting. What comes after the end of the sexual revolution in Paglia’s view?

She says Gaga has copied Madonna, but rather than being “on fire,” Gaga is asexual and death-obsessed. Even Gaga’s music doesn’t come close to Madonna’s as far as Paglia is concerned:

Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…

Paglia doesn’t demonstrate any awareness that the Madonna she loves so much is what led to the Gaga she despises.  But her explanation of why Lady Gaga is so popular is spot on:

Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.

Gaga’s fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter…

Like I said, no lost feelings here.

Zoe Romanowsky

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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