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March 3, 2011 9:46 AM   Subscribe

This blog collects dissenting voices: Gays Against Gaga.

Linked on the blog: But whose gay culture is this? Because it certainly isn’t mine — and that’s my problem with Gaga. She claims she wants to give a voice to the gay community, but she only acknowledges the most narrow, nonthreatening, straight-girl-servicing and, I’m sorry, stereotypical gay culture, and gives voice to that while leaving everything else silent. I mean, she described the “Alejandro” video as “a celebration of [her] love and appreciation for the gay community, my admiration of their bravery and their love for one another and their courage and their relationships.” A collection of naked, faceless, featureless and acceptably masculine men who dance with a woman and writhe around in bed with a woman, and, okay, maybe wrestle with and grunt at each other in their spare time — that’s the gay community, that’s the bravery and courage and love of gay relationships, according to Gaga. And if that’s your experience of gay culture, or if you’re willing to accept even a flawed reflection of your experience of gay culture, that’s fine — you know, there are a lot of things I like about “I Kissed a Girl.” I get it. But that doesn’t make Gaga a gay icon, or give her the right to make herself a mouthpiece for the gay community, any more than “I Kissed a Girl” makes Katy Perry a bisexual activist. See also: Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and the Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010.
posted by youarenothere (175 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is awesome.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 9:49 AM on March 3, 2011


To be fair, Gaga is one of the only "gay icons" that has actually openly embraced her status as such.

Progress. Not perfect. But still, progress.
posted by schmod at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Not that I’m any kind of authority, but it seems to me that Gaga’s relationship with gay culture is increasingly indistinguishable from Jenna Maroney’s."
—jonathanbogart


Pardon me whist I BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAH.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:55 AM on March 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


To be fair, Gaga is one of the only "gay icons" that has actually openly embraced her status as such.

Unless you have more a stringent definition of "openly" than I do, I'm having a hard time thinking of any who have not embraced such.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:56 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


she was born rich
posted by defenestration at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


pop stars are a lousy measure of pretty much anything.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:59 AM on March 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Clicking trough certainly brings decent exposure to some hearty deconstructionist arguments against Gaga as relating to gay culture, which is always fun to read. However, I can't help feeling that by slightly tweaking, many of those same arguments can be applied to just about any gay culture pop icon (friends of Dorthy, Village People, Tammy Faye Baker...whatever) or for that matter "any" pop icon. The fundamental question though, that can never be resolved in the moment, is... does she do more good than harm?

Now, I don't like her music, or for the most part her. Not because of any sexual orientation issues, but simply because I find it and her too artificial and annoying, so I'm pretty sympathetic to the criticisms offered on the linked blog (wish they had a different color scheme), I do think it is more socially complex and diverse then what they make it out to be. "Gay culture" is a lot more diverse now then it use to be, and I think that's a good thing.
posted by edgeways at 10:02 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What we need to do is, we need to do a critical mass against Gaga. WHO'S WITH ME

* Not actually for Critical Mass or against Lady Gaga.
posted by everichon at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't about Gaga. I have seen these blokes before. Such special fucking snow flakes. Let me tell you about the "gay culture is not my gay culture" crowd:

They don't go to gay bars because they hate all the flamers and drag queens. They don't like pride because that, above all else, is why others hate us. And they often vote Republican because gay issues aren't as important as what ever bullshit they think so important they can forgive all the homophobia. Scratch the surface and you sometimes will find a g0y.

I never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever hear straight people going on about how Fred Phelps or football isn't their straight culture. In my experience those who whine about gay culture insistently (and there are some not so nice aspects to it) have internalized homophobia up the wazoo when they should simply have a penis up the wazoo.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2011 [28 favorites]


I've fast-forwarded thru some of Gagag's videos, and they contain the same, stereotypical, 10%-of-gay-culture faces and bodies one would see illustrating an article in Newsweek. Sure, those Chelsea gymbots are, technically, gay - but they're decidedly in the minority. When Gagag features some Daddy Bear-chasin' cubs, maybe I'll pay more attention, but till then, she's just a Jersey Shore soundtrack to me...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Damned if you do....
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeah, munchingzombie, you look just like someone to whom Gagag caters. Good for you. Now stop making generalizations about other people who have a different opinion. We're the ones who endured things you can't even imagine to make all of "this" possible for you and your little monster friends out on the dancefloor. Show a little respect if you expect to be respected yourself.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:09 AM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Damned if you do....
More like damned if you kinda-sorta do, a little bit, and then you constantly go around telling everybody "hey look at me I'm Doing, it's kind of a big deal!"
posted by cdward at 10:14 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


This resets our "Days Without A Gaga Post" calendar back to zero, doesn't it.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:14 AM on March 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


oh i get it, gagag like her name is gaga but then now she is being mocked
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Gay civil rights have come a long way, if we have all this time and energy for in-fighting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


I never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever hear straight people going on about how Fred Phelps or football isn't their straight culture.

That's because we have the luxury of not having to deal with being lumped into some scene or stereotype. People don't think of those things as part of the identity of a straight person. The perceived identity of a straight person typically has nothing to do with their sexual preference at all.
posted by defenestration at 10:17 AM on March 3, 2011 [24 favorites]


OneMonkeysUncle is clearly a republican because....well...wait, what now?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:17 AM on March 3, 2011


These "that gay culture is not my gay culture" people are decidedly not like the people you're referring to, munchingzombie. These anti-Gaga folks are on the opposite side of that spectrum; they aren't the Andrew Sullivan just-want-to-be-normal types--they're the trouble-with-normal Michael Warner types.
posted by youarenothere at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


They don't go to gay bars because they hate all the flamers and drag queens.

I never realized somebody had to go to gay bars with flamers and drag queens to be part of the club.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:20 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me tell you about the "gay culture is not my gay culture" crowd:

Please, tell me about myself.

I don't go to gay bars because I live in a small town without them, and I'm not really a bar-person anyway. I DO go to pride, and I always have fun spectating and participating in the parts that are relevant to me. I'm not a dyke, so bykes aren't my thing, but I drink and dance and have fun with friends. I vote as left-leaning as I possibly can, after I have finished campaigning and driving others to the polls. I had internalized homophobia back when I was a teenager, but as a completely out married (12 years) lesbian, I'm long past those days.

Still, I would say that gay culture isn't my culture, because gay culture often seems based on accepting homosexuality as your master status, which mine isn't. I have more in common with atheists and feminists than I do with most gay people. On the femme-butch continuum I am decidedly on the girly side, and so don't share interests with most lesbian groups (I'm the lesbian who shows up to the picnic in a summer dress, to be looked at askew by the dozens in cargo shorts).

Although the biggest reason why gay culture isn't my culture is perfectly illustrated by your comment - gay culture tends to assume male. There are female gays, and Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, Katy Perry, etc. aren't targeted to us. Not much is, really. I'm ok with that for the most part, but being invisible when you really don't want to be can suck sometimes.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:22 AM on March 3, 2011 [40 favorites]


munchingzombie: " I never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever hear straight people going on about how Fred Phelps or football isn't their straight culture."

Straight people are the majority. We have our own invisible backpack of privilege. And yes, we straight people most certainly do speak out against Fred Phelps and WBC. I believe we tend to frame their arguments through a different lens than culture, though. In terms of hatred, religion and American civil rights.
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unless you have more a stringent definition of "openly" than I do, I'm having a hard time thinking of any who have not embraced such.

Judy Garland?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on March 3, 2011


Teh gays, bit sensitive sometimes, aren't we?
posted by New England Cultist at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only recently did I learn, as a straight man, that my respect and love for gays was based primarily around a shallow and narrow archetype. And I have MeFi to thank for helping me see that I was being condescending without really realizing it.

Which is not to say that I have less love or respect for gays after finding out that the tent was much larger than the space I'd been allowing it in my head. It's not that I wasnt aware of the many different flavors on the Queer Continuum, but we can often know something without really realizing it. In fact I think both the love and the respect has grown. But I just wanted to put that out there.

Reading the Gays Against Gaga blog actually helps me further that understanding a bit. That it doesnt have to be binary tolerance/intolerance and that sometimes our Straight White Male Liberal Best Intentions can be unintentionally thin and patronizing.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, who does get to define gay culture? Seriously—what is gay culture? The way I see it, the larger acceptance of queer folks within "mainstream" america means that there no longer is one big Gay Culture that all gay people get to be in (if there ever was one in the first place).

The twinks and muscle gays over in Chelsea and the Castro are one kind of gay culture; they are, in fact, the one most usually though of by the rest of us straight folks, but it doesn't seem to be the gay culture that's being represented by the folks on that website. What they're complaining is that Gaga is leveraging her queerness to sell records, and this is having the side-effect of monetizing the culture of more lefty, radical queer folks and changing the public perception of it. Really, she's creating a public perception of this subculture from scratch, because it's hard to find if you just watch TV and read the New York Times.

Being gay is not a political act in and of itself. The left is embracing of gays and other non-gender-conforming people, because that's part of what the Left does anyway. I think these folks have their wires crossed as far what it means to be gay vs. what it means to be radical.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like every other human on this planet, there are many to being me, and being gay is one of them. Gaga irritates me - she co-opts a culture and becomes "their representative" to the rest of the world and uses that status to further her own fame and fortune. Some people like having her as their emissary, which is just dandy for them. Doesn't work with me. She's not my mother monster and I'm not her little freak. When she speaks out on gay issues, cool thanks Gaga. But she's about as representative of me and my ideals as my *shudder* Republican Congress critters are.
posted by msbutah at 10:29 AM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


many *things* to being me ... my kingdom for an edit window
posted by msbutah at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2011


Gay culture is Uncle Arthur from bewitched.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever hear straight people going on about how Fred Phelps or football isn't their straight culture."

That's silly. Fred Phelps and football have very indirect relationship to whatever "straight culture" is.

Some Christians certainly go on about how Fred Phelps isn't their Christian culture.

Some sports fans go on (and on) about how football is not part of their sports culture.

There's lots of good stuff on that blog, but the my favorite is from "What to Expect from the Born This Way video" post: "5. Terrible, terrible music."

...

and Cher
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can sympathize with the complaints. On the other hand, Lady Gaga's gay culture is somebody's gay culture. I guess I feel the same way about it as I do about porn. Yeah, it's not very good and sometimes quite a problem. The cure is more and better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:32 AM on March 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Judy Garland?

Well...

Garland acknowledged her gay following once, saying, “When I die I have visions of fags singing ‘Over the Rainbow’ and the flag at Fire Island being flown at half mast.”

More "stiffly receiving someone's hug" than "openly embracing them". But at least not in denial. And since she died (just) before Stonewall, I think different standards should be applied.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:33 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found this comment rather astute on addressing the Gay Culture point:
I know they’re only trying to help, but sometimes the people that irk me most are the comfortably heterosexual, your Kinsey Ones, who’ve had one or two gay experiences and think that they belong to the same discriminated class. You know them, they’re always in a heterosexual union, and are always able to run away to normality, but are the first to point out their apparent bisexuality as if it is some kind of merit badge. As if it’s a privilege entitling them to further outrage at the world! They know discrimination and intolerance and violence and living in fear mostly in the abstract.

Lady Gaga is this person to me, right now. I appreciate the sentiment, but it curdles; it cloys.

“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen.”

She hangs out with designers and artists and songwriters, fields with many great gay contributors. But she deigns to write anthems for all of us, but I can’t see anything but gauche wallpapering over our history, our diversity, not separate from the heterosexual history, but intertwined and part of it, that could end up as hurtfulness to the kids in the Bible belt, or in countries where homosexuality is illegal or heavily proscribed by society. What would she know of these people? They weren’t fabulous. Were they… drags? What does she want them to do? Stand up and be stoned to death? I’m sure Gaga wouldn’t volunteer to lead a gay rights parade down the centre of Riyadh. Gaga’s risky move is so _riskless_, because her empowerment message here is so airbrushed, sterile and divorced from reality. Whatever she is, she’s accepted for who she is, so good on her for using that power for campaigning for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but that just means she should know she’s better than something this cheap. Saying that everyone else should be who they are is just so much sexual “Let them eat cake” for my tastes. She is a privileged person wondering why everyone else isn’t acting like she is, as if they could.

You can’t just put out a song that is supposed to be a rallying cry to gay men, and it’s irresponsible to drop one knowing people are going to read it that way. It is, as I said it before, a dog whistle. The connotative of her story is linked so strongly to that of the gay community she can’t claim plausible deniability or anything. But we don’t all march to the same 4/4 beat. Not all gay people want to be queens. We vary, damn it.

It is apparently human nature to see things in terms of dichotomy. Black, white. Night, day. Et cetera. Man, woman. Complementary dichotomies? Straight, gay. Moral opposites? We are taught that men are like this and women are like that, and because society is sometimes bad to us, that gay men and women fall somewhere in between. Sure, they look the same, but, they do THIS! And this. And, can you believe, that? They are not the same. They fall between two stools. We are not real men/women. Gay men are pansies, poofs, queens. Women are butch, bull dykes, tom boys. But we’re not all like that. We are as different as our straight brothers and sisters. Lesbians are reduced to either “ugly dykes” or wank fantasies. Gay men are sitcom comic relief, or hypermasculine.

Judith Butler, of course, argued that the idea of two biological sexes was just as socially constructed as two societally-constructed genders. That’s how we work, we break things into halves so we can understand them sometimes. We define ourselves by what we’re not, as much as what we are. Lady Gaga is yet another in a long line of people who seems to want to break homosexuality into two kinds – fabulous/frumpy? – and this is an anthem seemingly in thrall to this notion. She’d just as soon naturalise us into two sub-genders so she can romance us.

You can’t put a dichotomy like that into a song and expect it not to offend people.

This song isn’t about empowerment. It is just sloganeering and encouraging people to stand behind differences as crutches rather than celebrate what unites us. I was born the way I am, not “this” way (that word might be the most problematic of the whole song), and all I want to do is go about my daily life, dressed as unfashionably as I currently am, dancing as badly as I always have and to one day settle down with a man to call my own some day. Gaga’s utopia doesn’t bring my dream any closer to being. Include me out.”
posted by youarenothere at 10:34 AM on March 3, 2011 [33 favorites]


Shoreleave is the best character in The Venture Brothers.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on March 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's not that Gagag (a moniker I generally use to describe the over-performer) isn't a "gay icon", but that she uses it to make up for crappy music. "Born This Way" is "Boring This Way" and the video was so yawnworthy while trying to be outrageous. The Unicorns Union should picket her for exploiting one of their own.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:37 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stay tuned 'til next week for the Gays Against Gays Against Gaga tumblelog!
posted by octobersurprise at 10:37 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, Lady Gaga's gay culture is somebody's gay culture.

Absolutely. I think part of the problem here is that this one gay culture has the force of celebrity (not just Gaga's, many celebrities) and then just steamrolls over the rest. It gets seen not as a gay culture, but as Gay Culture, and then the rest of us feel further excluded.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Gaga is at least one of the first "gay icons" to actually be queer herself. So, in that sense, you really can't accuse her of co-opting gay culture as it's as much her culture as any other GLBTQ person.

(Unless we're going to get into the "bisexuals aren't really gay" argument, in which case I'll just start beating my head into this table right now.)
posted by sonika at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Garland acknowledged her gay following once, saying, “When I die I have visions of fags singing ‘Over the Rainbow’ and the flag at Fire Island being flown at half mast.”

Judy Garland died June 22 of 1969. Six days later, the Stonewall Riots. Any connection? Maybe. Some see a clear link.

If you agree, they didn't just fly the flag at half mast. They turned the flag upside down.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


But that doesn’t make Gaga a gay icon, or give her the right to make herself a mouthpiece for the gay community, any more than “I Kissed a Girl” makes Katy Perry a bisexual activist.

Except that Lady Gaga is both bisexual and an activist for LGBT rights. I get the complaint that her self-presentation as an icon for gay men is problematic in representing only a narrow slice of gay male clubbers, but too much of this critique ignores that she actually is a member of the queer community, and that her political interests align with it in a way that, say, Ted Haggard's do not. Presenting her as a faux queer is VERY problematic because of the continuing gayer-than-thou attitude that denigrates bisexuals and transfolk as faux queers.

Shorter: gay men declare bisexual woman not real queers.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:41 AM on March 3, 2011 [36 favorites]


*declare bisexual woman not a real queer.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:41 AM on March 3, 2011


I had to laugh when there was the mention of her projecting herself as 'Mother Monster' fighting fir gay rights, and that it wasn't really HER putting herself out there for a cause. Good god man, we are all cultural schizophrenics. The moment you open your eyes and start talking to the person next to you in bed you're someone else.
posted by New England Cultist at 10:42 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know they’re only trying to help, but sometimes the people that irk me most are the comfortably heterosexual, your Kinsey Ones, who’ve had one or two gay experiences and think that they belong to the same discriminated class. You know them, they’re always in a heterosexual union, and are always able to run away to normality, but are the first to point out their apparent bisexuality as if it is some kind of merit badge. As if it’s a privilege entitling them to further outrage at the world! They know discrimination and intolerance and violence and living in fear mostly in the abstract. Lady Gaga is this person to me, right now

ohhhh yeah... Sometimes you read something that articulates what you've been failing to for a while and it's like finally scratching an itch.

Only instead of "merit badge", I would describe LG's claims of bisexuality as an attempt to burnish her "street cred".

To give [Vanilla Ice] more street credibility, a bio was fabricated that had Ice growing up not in Dallas, but on the Miami streets, and much of his legitimate "street" past, (performing at Black clubs, breakdancing, being stabbed) was amplified and transported East, where he inexplicably went to school with the much older Luke Campbell of 2 Live Crew.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2011


Only instead of "merit badge", I would describe LG's claims of bisexuality as an attempt to burnish her "street cred".

Well, you've proven Vanilla Ice is not what he claims, but do you have any evidence that gives you cause for denying somebody else's sexuality?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on March 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not an authority on this, so don't flame me here.

I totally agree that what she does is indirectly condescending and simplifies gayness, and is totally undeserving of representing gay culture especially, but I think Gaga isn't for reasonably intellectual adults who have their queer identity figured out securely.

I think her message (or maybe her intention) is geared towards masses of young people from all kinds of backgrounds, especially ones who may presumably have homophobic parents and/or live in prejudiced communities. It looks like her intention is about contributing to widespread acceptance of gayness, emphasizing it's the way you were born and not a choice. It isn't perfect, but could it be considered a tiny drop of progress, or at least an attempt at a paradigm shift even if it falls flat on its face?
posted by GEB's fun world at 10:49 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Only instead of "merit badge", I would describe LG's claims of bisexuality as an attempt to burnish her "street cred".

Like Gaga or not, questioning someone else's stated sexuality is pretty disgusting. Disagree with how she presents herself, that's fine, but to say that she's "claiming" to be bisexual for "street cred" is the kind of bullshit that continually marginalizes the Bs amongst the GLBTs for not being "gay enough." It's ridiculous and totally uncalled for.
posted by sonika at 10:49 AM on March 3, 2011 [39 favorites]


It isn't perfect, but could it be considered a tiny drop of progress?

As much as I say "that's not my gay culture," I generally agree with you on this. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and say "I'm not the intended audience." In this case, the intended audience may well be people younger and more insecure than I, and if Lady Gaga gives them some sense of identity and security, then good for all involved.

When I was a teenager, it was Ani DiFranco, purple dyed hair, and facial piercings. It made me feel like I was part of a family or tribe, and that helped me though the rough spots.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:52 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unless you have more a stringent definition of "openly" than I do, I'm having a hard time thinking of any who have not embraced such.

Challenge accepted. I'd really love to be proven wrong here.

So far we have Judy Garland, which I'll gladly accept, given the historical timeframe. Any others?

Gaga has gone on national TV on numerous occasions to vociferously claim her support of gay rights, and has made it the theme of at least one of her songs and several of her videos. Have any other mainstream stars even come close to that? Heck...most popstars and celebrities who were actually gay couldn't bring themselves to admit it until their careers had long since left the limelight, and never really made a stand on gay rights. To be openly bi seems even more adventurous, given the negative backlash that the bisexuals often get from the larger gay community.

Derail: It's like how the gay community is furious at Obama, who has done more for gay rights than any other president, in spite of a legislature and collective set of state goverments who are predominately homophobic (and often violently so), whose consent would be required to make any further advances. Don't bite from the hand that feeds.

I'll gladly join the chorus against the perception of the gay community as a monoculture, or the physical objectification of men...but that's really a separate issue.

If we want to GRAR at a new "gay icon," focus your anger on Katy Perry. After releasing a CD full of homophobic lyrics, she throws her arms up, claims "I love the gays," releases a video that shows a gay couple kissing for about half a second, and is all of the sudden a gay icon. That's not OK.
posted by schmod at 10:57 AM on March 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can we please not use "Gagag?" It's a fucking childish insult and Metafilter should be above discourse like that.
posted by flatluigi at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


Can you squabbling queens please pipe down for long enough to take note of how delightful Dave Holmes's Born this Way takedown is?

Anyway. Like some kind of hyper-sexed, mass-culture Ani DiFranco, Gaga is and is going to continue to be really important for a lot of thirteen-to-twenty-year old gay kids. Then they're going to grow up a bit more and one day find themselves really, really embarrassed about the whole thing. And then maybe some time later they'll realize that they needed dumb, tragic, but validating music at a time when they themselves were dumb, tragic, and in need of validation. And then, when their roommates are out of town, they're going to get really drunk and blast that shit, singing along to every word.

I like academic criticism of pop culture, but when you try and let it loose on the world without moderating its polemics or giving it added context, it gives rise to the enemy-of-the-good scenarios that have been so toxic in progressive circles. It pains me to admit it, but Lady Gaga is probably a net positive for the world. Even though she totally sucks (even though Just Dance was actually really good).
posted by wreckingball at 10:59 AM on March 3, 2011 [31 favorites]


Wait, Katy Perry is a gay icon? I hear more about her giant tits are than I do her music most times, which, I guess is cool for lesbians, but there seems to be precious little ambiguity to her. Am I missing something?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2011


If we want to GRAR at a new "gay icon," focus your anger on Katy Perry.

Agreed. So many of my lesbian friends have accepted "Kissed a Girl" as a de facto anthem, and I'm on the sidelines trying not to be a party killer with my "you realize it's actually homophobic, right?"
posted by arcticwoman at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't go to Pride anymore. But because I know it's really important for some people, I'm sure glad it exists. That's how I feel about Lady Gaga.

People grow up and are ready for different icons and interests at different times. To obsess so much about the popularity of Lady Gaga is to ignore a lot of the interesting work and important actions that are being taken by in many different areas in the "gay culture" (whatever the fuck that is) -- something has to be on the cover, but there's a whole lot of pages behind them.

My boyfriend found this amazing suitcase in a storage area in his old apartment here in Chicago. It was full of somebody's private porn stash with terrific beefcake pictures from the 1950 through the 1970s. Also in there was a copy of some gay paper and within its pages was a letter from Harvey Milk declaring his candidacy. I don't know what was on the cover, but that letter sure wasn't it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Derail: It's like how the gay community is furious at Obama, who has done more for gay rights than any other president, in spite of a legislature and collective set of state goverments who are predominately homophobic (and often violently so), whose consent would be required to make any further advances. Don't bite from the hand that feeds.

Yeah, it's almost as if they believe that the recognition of rights are not acts of ministerial grace.

posted by Marty Marx at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So far we have Judy Garland, which I'll gladly accept, given the historical timeframe. Any others?

I already mentioned Cher with a half-assed link above. I'm sure better documentation can be found.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 AM on March 3, 2011


FFS. "is not an act." Today is not a good grammar day.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:06 AM on March 3, 2011


So far we have Judy Garland, which I'll gladly accept, given the historical timeframe. Any others?

Bette Midler. Cher. Dolly Parton. Cyndi Lauper.
posted by rtha at 11:07 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bette Midler: "Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I'm still proud of those days [singing at gay bathhouses]. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride."
posted by mrgrimm at 11:07 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would describe LG's claims of bisexuality as an attempt to burnish her "street cred".

Amazing how bent out of shape some people get over a fucking pop star.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:07 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Media fooled by fake "gay icon" poll

"Media outlets including The Washington Post and the Toronto Sun appear to have been duped last week into reporting a fake poll that listed Britney Spears as the ultimate gay icon above other favorites including Lady Gaga."
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on March 3, 2011


Some people sure got sticks up their asses. Lady Gaga is an entertainer, a pop star. She happens to be a quite popular one because her music and her image appeal to lots of people. In addition to that, she uses her fame to promote the acceptance of gay people and to fight for their rights. She doesn't have to do that. Plenty of pop stars have become almost as famous as she, or even more famous, without 'exploiting' the gay community. It's not like embracing the gay community is a prerequisite to fame and fortune, or a guaranteed strategy. These people need to get over themselves.
posted by PigAlien at 11:11 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Amazing how bent out of shape some people get
posted by brand-gnu at 11:12 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fairness, sometimes you want someone who can get bent out of shape.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


it seems to me that she just might be opening the door for someone to have a career in pop music that would be much more direct about gay content and experience
posted by pyramid termite at 11:16 AM on March 3, 2011


any more than “I Kissed a Girl” makes Katy Perry a bisexual activist

I thought Jill Sobule sang "I Kissed a Girl."

More seriously:

I think Gaga isn't for reasonably intellectual adults who have their queer identity figured out securely.

I'm not disagreeing, but I think it's worth remembering that there are certainly plenty of reasonably - even highly - intellectual people who make it quite a long way through adulthood before figuring out their sexuality with any degree of security (queer or otherwise). Some never really get there.
posted by nickmark at 11:17 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I'm not the only gay person whose dislike of Lady Gaga goes beyond merely not being into her music. If other people find her empowering and uplifting, I'm glad. Hell, I find U2 empowering and uplifting, so who am I to judge. That's something everyone needs. But speaking only for myself, I can't help but feel like I'm being pandered to every time Gaga opens her mouth.

You can’t just put out a song that is supposed to be a rallying cry to gay men, and it’s irresponsible to drop one knowing people are going to read it that way. It is, as I said it before, a dog whistle. The connotative of her story is linked so strongly to that of the gay community she can’t claim plausible deniability or anything. But we don’t all march to the same 4/4 beat. Not all gay people want to be queens. We vary, damn it.

This exactly reflects my sentiments. And has nothing to do with being a self-hating gay, or to attempting to dominate the discussion on what it means to be gay, or anything like that. The Lady Gaga phenomenon just doesn't speak to me, and I feel like the overwhelming majority of people of a certain age would assume that it does.
posted by kryptondog at 11:18 AM on March 3, 2011


Daddy Bear-chasin' cubs

Hi, what? I'm gonna be in a video?
posted by BigVACub at 11:19 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


In my experience those who whine about gay culture insistently (and there are some not so nice aspects to it) have internalized homophobia up the wazoo when they should simply have a penis up the wazoo.

It could be that I need an education in the niceties of modern gay culture, but is that the best you can come up with? "STFU, you just need a cock stuffed up your ass"?

That said, I think the idea that in 2011 there is one monolithic gay culture, or subculture, or whatever, is well beyond obsolete. I think Lady Gaga is great, albeit slightly ridiculous as well, and the effort to investigate and interrogate her as something she's not (i.e., some sort of transgressive icon of sexual politics, a la Camille Paglia transforming Madonna into such in the late 1980s) is kind of overwrought. I agree with wrecking ball: LG may irritate me, but on the whole, I think she's a net positive for gay folks.

They don't go to gay bars because they hate all the flamers and drag queens.

When I was young and single I went to gay bars once in a while, mostly because there wasn't much of anywhere else to go to try to meet other gay men. I felt like an outcast there, even though according to what was in gay movies and gay fiction and every other message I received, the gay bar (or the gay dance club, or the gay bathhouse) was the only place to be if you were a young gay man living in the big city. But I was invisible in bars. Most guys I knew went there to hang out with friends, snipe at the uglies, and compete to snag the hotties. That, and getting drunk off one's ass, were what gay bars were for when I was young. Maybe I knew the wrong guys. Maybe the bars have turned over a new leaf all these years later and become welcoming havens for the unwashed masses.

And they often vote Republican because gay issues aren't as important as what ever bullshit they think so important they can forgive all the homophobia.

I don't vote Republican. I don't vote against my self-interest.
posted by blucevalo at 11:19 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought Jill Sobule sang "I Kissed a Girl."

katy perry's song is a different one
posted by pyramid termite at 11:19 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Bear Force One got this sort of backlash.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Like Gaga or not, questioning someone else's stated sexuality is pretty disgusting.

More or less so than questioning what degree of affluence they grew up with - which also seems to be a matter of some disagreement?

I'm cynical enough to believe a pop star who credits her success to a particular sub-culture might exaggerate the degree of her identification with that sub-culture.

I apologize for any offense given.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:24 AM on March 3, 2011


I think Lady Gaga is great, albeit slightly ridiculous as well, and the effort to investigate and interrogate her as something she's not (i.e., some sort of transgressive icon of sexual politics, a la Camille Paglia transforming Madonna into such in the late 1980s) is kind of overwrought.

And we all know what happened to Camille Paglia, don't we? Yes, this is about all that needs to be said on this topic.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:25 AM on March 3, 2011


Bear Force One doesn't have the same culture surrounding it, so it's really not worth criticizing.

My problems are less with Lady Gaga and more with the people who think gay people should quit whining and be happy for what little representation they have in the media.
posted by yaymukund at 11:26 AM on March 3, 2011


I'm not opposed to cynicism. But I guess I figure gay people have it hard enough without a circular firing squad of who is queer enough to be able to claim the identity.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just linked to Bear Force One because I love that video.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 AM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


What is exactly is 'great' about Lady Gaga, other than you might personally be amused or entertained by her pop music. I'm not gay nor am I tuned into the culture, but how can anyone not be a little turned off by someone who is clearly exploiting a controversial subculture to make millions of dollars while not doing shit to further the cause.

And don't tell me that putting a few half nude guys dancing in a video is helping. What a crock.
posted by hellslinger at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just linked to Bear Force One because I love that video.

If you ever want to have your preconceptions shattered, step into a gay club on "bear night."
posted by schmod at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how much of Gaga is legitimate and how much is constructed media personality. Is she adopting gay culture and gay idol status as a way of developing a lasting audience that tends to have a a fair amount of market power? Or is she a young woman who is trying to do some good with her celebrity status?

It's completely unclear, she's obviously intelligent and surrounded by other intelligent people. There is just a sense of the unreal about her. Is she a normal person who just happens to be in the right place at the right time in American culture or is she a cynical expression of marketing meets manufactured celebrity?

It does seems clear that she's trying to set herself up for the long haul like a Madonna. That means developing a devoted following and being willing to reinvent to match current cultural expectations. Other artists have benefited from being gay culture icons even if they weren't gay themselves. It's entirely possible that Gaga and her handlers/consultants/friends understand this and have gravitated to gay club culture as a way of avoiding the inevitable slide into cultural irrelevance.
posted by vuron at 11:31 AM on March 3, 2011


I'm cynical enough to believe a pop star who credits her success to a particular sub-culture might exaggerate the degree of her identification with that sub-culture.

I have no issue with "I think Gaga exaggerates her acceptance into queer culture" - that's fine. Talking about her cultural position and disagreeing with how she presents herself there is a perfectly reasonable criticism. What bothered me is when it touched on her actual sexual identity "I think Gaga claims to be bisexual" as if she's not and just saying that she is to get gays to like her.

Which, newsflash (and this isn't directed to Joe Beese, or anyone else, just an observation): Gs and Ls don't really dig the Bs so much. Gaga would have literally nothing to gain with gay men by "claiming" to be bisexual. Most of the previous female gay icons mentioned have been straight women, being queer herself wouldn't "help" Gaga any in this department.
posted by sonika at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And don't tell me that putting a few half nude guys dancing in a video is helping. What a crock.

It doesn't help, no, but it does make it a pretty typical music video.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2011


katy perry's song is a different one
I know, I was just... showing my age, I guess. Sixteen years ago? Seriously? sigh.

posted by nickmark at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought Jill Sobule sang "I Kissed a Girl."

I envy you so, so much.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:33 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do think that Johnny McGovern might be a more suitable (and catchy!) advocate.
posted by hellslinger at 11:38 AM on March 3, 2011


If I ever invent a time machine (this is not coming along as smoothly as I think I'd like) I believe I will zoom on back to, oh I don't know, some poor New York confirmed bachelor pre-Stonewall who's just gotten home from a night in jail because he got arrested for dancing with another man during a raid - a raid sanctioned by the law, I should add - on a bar where some people were dancing with the same sex (a crime) and others were not wearing at least three pieces of clothing associated with their biological gender (also a crime) and was then taken to the pen where he was worked over for a couple hours and beaten raw and bloody and then maybe his lover had to watch him get forcibly sodomized with a nightstick while one of the boys in blue shoved his head into a toilet (where he was able to enjoy the quiet company of some brackish water and a stale log or two of human shit) and informed what a disgusting fucking fairy he was by the officers of the law who knew full well that their treatment of him was not only certain to go unpunished but actually sanctioned by every single person up the chain of law enforcement and when he collapsed into a sobbing, broken heap onto his couch, contemplating a future in which he is institutionalized or lobotomized or given ECT or chemically castrated or just beaten to death, I guess I'd grab a couple steaks so that maybe the swelling in his eyes might go down enough to allow him to see and I'd tell him that in the year 2011 - maybe forty-two or so years hence - there would be an openly bisexual American pop star making millions and that some members of the gay community would be discussing that some of them do not believe their target demographic (which will not only exist but also matter, by the way) is being pandered to the right way.

I mean there's still raids and there's still beatings and homophobia is still an awful and pervasive thing in our culture (and more or less all other cultures) whose impact on the life of folks who just want to love each other cannot be overstated, and for the record I do think the discussion of pandering is a valid one which is worth having but, you know. I just wonder what he'd say.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:38 AM on March 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


"someone who is clearly exploiting a controversial subculture to make millions of dollars while not doing shit to further the cause."

Well, Hellslinger, if you would do your fact-checking first, you would know that Lady Gaga just struck a very large financial deal with Target to have exclusive rights to sell her CD with the caveat that Target must no longer donate to any anti-gay candidates and that she has the right to terminate this exclusive agreement if Target does support any anti-gay candidates. She also spoke at the National Equality March in Washington DC last fall.

This is not a woman who simply panders to gays and lesbians while winking and nodding at her homophobic fans. She has made a stand on behalf of gays and lesbians (and bisexuals and transgender people). She has put her money where her mouth is and used her clout in favor of the LGBT community that supports her, and to which she belongs as a self-avowed bisexual.
posted by PigAlien at 11:40 AM on March 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


hellslinger: "how can anyone not be a little turned off by someone who is clearly exploiting a controversial subculture to make millions of dollars while not doing shit to further the cause. "

Lady Gaga is actually a part time gay rights activist, regardless of her motives.

(for posterity, here are the first few titles of articles found by that search:
"Lady Gaga unleashes inner activist as she takes the stage at ..."
"Lady Gaga, Already a Gay Icon, Shows She's an Activist Too ..."
"Lady Gaga's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Activism Is Getting Results"
"Lady Gaga Mixes Activism And Music At Arizona Concert - Lez Get Real")
posted by idiopath at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I'd grab a couple steaks so that maybe the swelling in his eyes might go down enough to allow him to see and I'd tell him that in the year 2011 - maybe forty-two or so years hence - there would be an openly bisexual American pop star making millions and that some members of the gay community would be discussing that some of them do not believe their target demographic (which will not only exist but also matter, by the way) is being pandered to the right way.

Fuck yeah. Well-played, FAMOUS MONSTER.
posted by blucevalo at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is exactly is 'great' about Lady Gaga

I think "great" is being used here in the Tony the Tiger sense, not the Leonardo da Vinci sense.

I'm cynical enough to believe a pop star who credits her success to a particular sub-culture might exaggerate the degree of her identification with that sub-culture.

And I'm cynical enough to assume that a pop star who credits her success to a particular sub-culture might exaggerate the degree of her identification with that sub-culture, but figure that as long as she isn't hurting said members or actually lying about her desire to be identified with that subculture, then it's no big deal, really.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:43 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...just struck a very large financial deal with Target to have exclusive rights to sell her CD with the caveat that Target must no longer donate to any anti-gay candidates and that she has the right to terminate this exclusive agreement if Target does support any anti-gay candidates. She also spoke at the National Equality March in Washington DC last fall.

I guess advocacy without zero sacrifice and a tremendous amount of profit for both parties is still advocacy. You've got me there.
posted by hellslinger at 11:45 AM on March 3, 2011


oops "zero sacrafice" is what I meant.
posted by hellslinger at 11:45 AM on March 3, 2011


I've fast-forwarded thru some of Gaga's videos, and they contain the same, stereotypical, 10%-of-gay-culture faces and bodies one would see illustrating an article in Newsweek.

Well, that sounds authoritative. You probably missed the very-much-not-lipstick lesbians in the "Telephone" video, but more importantly: her videos have a lot of dancing; she's surrounded by dancers. I can't see it being viewed as anything less than exploitative if she had people who are clearly not professional dancers around her.

how can anyone not be a little turned off by someone who is clearly exploiting a controversial subculture to make millions of dollars while not doing shit to further the cause.

I don't even know where to start with this. Sure, it was a bit of a publicity stunt when Harry Reid tweeted congrats to her after the DADT repeal passed, but she's agitated for that, for the DOMA repeal, for the restructuring of Target's political donations, and so on... "Not doing shit?" REALLY?

If we want to GRAR at a new "gay icon," focus your anger on Katy Perry. After releasing a CD full of homophobic lyrics, she throws her arms up, claims "I love the gays," releases a video that shows a gay couple kissing for about half a second, and is all of the sudden a gay icon.

The other side of this is that some gays (those that are catered to by "gay culture") are just that dumb and will embrace anything flashy. I will never get back the two hours of my life spent at a "Daisy Dukes, Bikinis on Top"-themed party in a gay resort town last summer.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:46 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess advocacy without zero sacrifice and a tremendous amount of profit for both parties is still advocacy.

So, it worked, but you're mad that it didn't hurt? It's political activism, not puritanism.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:46 AM on March 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't understand this controversy, but maybe that's because the part of my brain devoted to overthinking things is already full.

I'm gay. I'm in my late 30s. I don't love dance music, and in fact I can't dance for shit. I'm not "fabulous." I don't think Lady Gaga is TEH BEST THING EVER OMG, but I guess she's kinda neat, and a couple of her songs have gotten involuntarily stuck in my head in the past. I'm usually behind the curve when it comes to pop culture anyway. But I think it's great that she spoke out strongly against Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

What is this about, again?
posted by Tin Man at 11:49 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, it worked, but you're mad that it didn't hurt? It's political activism, not puritanism.

Nope. I suppose I was pointing out that since it is highly profitable for her to be an activist, that in a way, it doesn't really seem like activism since that's what built her career in the first place.
posted by hellslinger at 11:50 AM on March 3, 2011


What is this about, again?

This is about the IRL equivalent to not being able to adhere to the "and move on" part of FIAMO.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


since it is highly profitable for her to be an activist

She's giving back to a community that gave her career a foundation, but it would be much better if...she made lots of money but wasn't an activist? Stopped making money but kept up with the activism? What, exactly?
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose I was pointing out that since it is highly profitable for her to be an activist, that in a way, it doesn't really seem like activism . . .

Yeah, that's precisely the view I'm criticizing as puritanical.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:55 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think we'd have any trouble calling the Koch brothers activists, and they make a profit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Target thing is just as much a business deal as it is activism.
posted by defenestration at 11:56 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Though, I'm not discounting other activism she's taken part, for what's it's worth.)
posted by defenestration at 11:57 AM on March 3, 2011


Stopped making money but kept up with the activism?

We're probably talking about a fine line situation here for sure: at what point did she recognize that the gay community was her foundation?

The OP's link is not the first time I've heard the criticism that Lady Gaga does not speak for us from someone in the gay community.

I'm biased partially because I hate shitty pop music like the stuff that Gaga makes, but I still see her advocacy as rather convenient and perhaps late, and as the posted article, only representative of a superficial aspect of the community. Perhaps someone can prove me wrong, but I'm all for learning new things.
posted by hellslinger at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2011


just as much a business deal as it is activism.

Sounds like the best kind of business deal.
posted by nickmark at 12:03 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "If I ever invent a time machine (this is not coming along as smoothly as I think I'd like) I believe I will zoom on back to, oh I don't know, some poor New York confirmed bachelor pre-Stonewall who's just gotten home from a night in jail"

Yes, but even then you know there was some guy who would tell you about his hypothetical time machine and trip to the 14th century where people were simply executed for homosexuality. At least they were only thrown in jail. It's not perfect, but we should be grateful for how far society has come!

Or maybe you'd meet a historian who would tell you about homosexuality in Ancient Greece or Rome, where it was sometimes open and sometimes even officially sanctioned.

Which is to say, history is complicated and usually nonlinear.
posted by yaymukund at 12:03 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


sure, it's great that people love her, her music, her form of lgbt activisim. even if some of it goes hand-in-hand with profit for her (intended or consequential benefit).

and, what exactly is the problem with this conversation that is being started by queer folks? this is what progressive queer folks do, and have been doing for a long time. asking the questions, "who is being stepped on or over for this progress to occur? what is missing from this story? what people are actually benefiting from this?"

it's parallel/related to the type of discussion being held around the issue of marriage equality where lots of gay folks seem happy with the activism around it, and lots of queers/lgbt folks are not.
posted by anya32 at 12:04 PM on March 3, 2011


Given that there's no indication whatsoever from anybody else that she caused anything to happen at Target, is there anything anywhere that proves that she's actually had a measurable positive effect? Because I don't think that America on the whole is looking at Lady Gaga's behavior and saying, "Oh my god, I was wrong for all these years! Being gay is totally okay!"

It's like the problematic bit of Buffy. I love Buffy, but if you're going to use vampires or demons or werewolves as a metaphor for being gay, it's a little hard to forget that they are in fact monsters. Lady Gaga appointing herself the public representative of the gay community basically says that the LGBT community is a freak show. And that is how it is being perceived by a lot of people who aren't already liberals, at least if the comments I've heard have been any indication.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gaga's camp seems sort of last-gasp, the way White Stripes' classic rock seemed last-gasp. Glad they're out there, and they're all good at it, but they feel like late masters of a fading art forms.
posted by bendybendy at 12:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think by 'born this way' she meant good looking, outgoing and monied... Because if you aren't those things, you aren't ALLOWED to be part of the gay "culture" she claims to support.
posted by kzin602 at 12:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


and, what exactly is the problem with this conversation that is being started by queer folks?

That it denies she is queer.
posted by Marty Marx at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2011


Lady Gaga appointing herself the public representative of the gay community

She's appointed herself as a representative, which she can, because she is queer. But has she really appointed herself as THE representative?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "for the record I do think the discussion of pandering is a valid one which is worth having"

I think there is a real issue behind the criticism - but the criticism finds its mark in our cultural standards, of which Gaga is a willing participant, but of which she is not root a cause.

Like many other domains, the bottom kind of fell out of culture in the 20th century, the bases that people thought it had were demolished. Unlike math and the sciences where preceding developments were carried over to a brave new world with much looser and more conditional frameworks (above the subatomic scale and below the cosmic, Newton's laws still apply; despite Gödel, arithmetic and algebra and calculus still work most of the time etc.), in culture the old standards were pretty much disposed of outright, and in the vacuum that resulted we were left with the question:
"do I like it?".

There is no more basis for assessing anything cultural, except for that ultimately stupid and shallow question. I mean we have always known De Gustibus Non Disputatum Est, but we at least tried a little harder to pretend that there could be some standard other than instant appeal and commercial success. And what do you get when arts are judged on instant appeal? Culture made for infants. Simple melodies, bright colors, simple shapes, exaggerated emotions, simple stories etc. etc. etc.

It is the inevitable consequence of the regime of "do I like it?", that there is no longer a strong standard to differentiate good art from art that is good at pandering. I am crossing my fingers that culture can come back to its senses, or dissolve entirely into subcultures with their own standards and without the pretense of universality.

And this is actually very important because we are more than the sum of our genes, our culture molds and defines us in profound ways, has an immense power to make us better people (or much much worse), and we have pretty much handed over the rudder of culture entirely to the invisible hand of the market.
posted by idiopath at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because if you aren't those things, you aren't ALLOWED to be part of the gay "culture" she claims to support.

Aren't allowed? Who says that exactly?
posted by Tin Man at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or maybe you'd meet a historian who would tell you about homosexuality in Ancient Greece or Rome, where it was sometimes open and sometimes even officially sanctioned.

Or one who'd tell you about New York in the first part of the 20th century, where "open" and "officially sanctioned" would certainly be a stretch, but things were certainly different from they way they'd become later, and who you were allowed to fuck (and where, and how) depended a lot on how much money you had - and interestingly, so did who you wanted to fuck, and your reasons for wanting to.

Which is to say, sexuality is complicated and usually nonbinary.

(not trying to be a jerk, just point out something interesting, and your phrasing was too good to pass up.)
posted by nickmark at 12:11 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


went there to hang out with friends, snipe at the uglies, and compete to snag the hotties. That, and getting drunk off one's ass,

So... no different than straight bars? ;)
posted by usagizero at 12:11 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The dismissal of her self-identification because she's bisexual and a woman is bullshit.

Other than that, I don't have a lot of opinion about this and appreciate the discussion that's going on here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:12 PM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


The national dialogue about gender and sexuality produced by Gaga's music (and the backlash against it from various camps) is more interesting and productive than any music or message she could ever produce.

And I think she's quite aware of that. If she doesn't speak for all gays, it's because no one does. She speaks to a subset of young, sexually curious people who enjoy her aesthetic and who are laboring to overcome the limitations of their surroundings. We older others can bop along in appreciation if we so choose, or we can focus our attention on more specialized, sophisticated figures.

Isn't there a sort of unconscious sour-grapes tone built into every snobby takedown of Lady Gaga? "I'm no longer young enough to be impressed impressed by this sort of thing!" Yeah -- you're no longer young and impressionable, with your whole life ahead of you. So why do you feel you even have to try and "like" her? The pressure people feel to like Lady Gaga is directly related to their unconscious desire to be marketed to as if they were still fresh young things.
posted by hermitosis at 12:12 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Like many other domains, the bottom kind of fell out of culture in the 20th century... And what do you get when arts are judged on instant appeal? Culture made for infants. Simple melodies, bright colors, simple shapes, exaggerated emotions, simple stories etc. etc. etc.

- idiopath, 2011

One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.

- Oscar Wilde, 19th century
posted by Tin Man at 12:13 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling Oscar Wilde would have loved Lady Gaga.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


Perhaps someone can prove me wrong, but I'm all for learning new things

Prove you wrong about what? No one wants to prove you should like Gaga or her music. No one wants to prove that the representations of a performer aren't a very, very thin slice of "stuff gay people like." I don't think anyone is even interested in trying to prove to you that her activism is less convenient or late-coming than is yours.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2011


the conversation isn't denying that she is queer identified (or at least i'm not). it is saying that her politics and her actions do not speak for "all queers" or "all gays" or "all lgbtq" folks. if we (members of various lgbtq communities) can't challenge each other on what we stand for, we're in trouble. and it doesn't mean she has to "speak for all" or that she ever could or will. but, just as with so many movements, i believe we need to remember who is not being represented. that that seems to be what this is about. similar to the hooks analysis of madonna.
posted by anya32 at 12:16 PM on March 3, 2011


As sympathetic as I am to gay people who feel that ~Gay Culture~ doesn't represent them, I get extremely angry when people argue that bisexual women aren't really gay in some way, or that they can't be angry about discrimination because they have the option of just being in a straight relationship. This is the same anti-bisexual bullshit that always comes up sooner or later and it is extremely hurtful; if a bisexual person happens to be in a straight relationship, suddenly their experiences don't matter, or aren't good enough. Well, guess what? It's not a fucking competition. When you throw yourself a pity party and decide that other people aren't hard-up enough to come, you just alienate those people and discriminate against them. I didn't choose to be bisexual any more than anyone chooses to be gay, and it's not my fault that happens to make my life somewhat easier than it is for gay people. Or it's supposed to anyway, but guess what? I've been given shit about my sexuality exactly ONCE from a straight person -- and COUNTLESS times from gay people. Literally countless, I cannot count how many times gay people have been shitty to me about it. Am I supposed to break off my wonderful relationship with my husband just so I can be in a relationship with a woman, any woman, and live up to someone else's standards of suffering? I thought the point was that other people weren't supposed to dictate and judge us based on the gender of our partners.

We could just as easily argue that the most ~fabulous~ gay guys that are stereotypical of gay culture get much more crap than gay guys who aren't, so the people who don't fit Gaga's anthem can't claim to know what discrimination is -- except we don't argue that, because it would be fucking stupid.

What this looks like to me, quite frankly, is that people are irked because they wish gay culture was broader -- and they're irrationally taking their anger out on people like Gaga and questioning her motives and being WAY more discriminatory than they accuse her of being. The idea that Gaga is trying to represent ALL gay culture, or force ALL gay people to conform to stereotypically gay culture, is completely absurd. Gaga herself is a fabulous spectacle type of person, so that's the kind of music she writes, and that's the lens through which she expresses gay pride in her songs. Her ultimate message is that people should be themselves. She can either support gay rights or not. For someone to get angry that she represents some people but not all people is ridiculous. To suggest that someone is actually queer shouldn't support gay rights, and is only doing it to pander, makes me livid.

If someone is mad that gay culture isn't broader, I agree, I sympathize. I don't go to clubs, and only one of my male gay friends is even anything like the stereotype. But what the fuck? Either stand up and do something to broaden it, or accept that it's generally the most extroverted, outlandish people that speak up first. You don't broaden the culture by attacking other queer people, you're just narrowing it in another way.

When it comes down to it, there are some people who respond to discrimination by looking around to see who they can tell themselves they're still superior to, and they lash out against those people instead of the people who are actually oppressing them. Some people, when they've been bullied, respond by bullying someone else. For too long, there's been a small group of gay guys who have honed in on bisexual people for just this purpose, and then find all sorts of rationalizations for it. It really needs to stop.
posted by Nattie at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2011 [38 favorites]


it is saying that her politics and her actions do not speak for "all queers" or "all gays" or "all lgbtq" folks.

Does she claim to? I'm still confused about this. Because I think it's fair to criticize people for what they're actually saying, but unfair to create a claim on their behalf and criticize them for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Gaga doesn't stand for all gay culture -- as a bisexual woman, she basically caters to her own interests, but she invites everyone else to... cater to their own. Well, okay then! I don't see a problem with that.

So far in her videos and lyrics she's portrayed a fairly narrow spectrum of types -- but she's young, and her body of work is fairly small. And you can maybe try selling a single to teenagers with a video of daddy-bears humping in the trees, but I don't really recommend it.
posted by hermitosis at 12:23 PM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


It is the inevitable consequence of the regime of "do I like it?", that there is no longer a strong standard to differentiate good art from art that is good at pandering.

What standard was there before? I have little difficulty distinguishing between quality and personal preference - there is lots of art that I recognize as good but don't like, and some of the art I like is shallow and ephemeral. And yes, I have a standard for judging these things - whether the proportions of contrasting elements within a work are harmonious or not. Isn't that sufficient?
posted by anigbrowl at 12:24 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hurt your feelings about disliking Lady Gaga's music there, Octobersurprise. I suppose the comment was more directed to find out more about what people thought about how latecoming, as you so well put it, her activism might be.

Caution: fragile egos at play,
posted by hellslinger at 12:26 PM on March 3, 2011


I like Ms. Gaga's oevre, but I also see the point these bloggers are trying to raise. But because of the way they are spinning drama out of it, these "critics" do not "speak for" me.
posted by polymodus at 12:27 PM on March 3, 2011


Nobody is represented accurately in the media, Gays are not special in this respect. Paying this kind of attention to her gives her more credibility than she deserves.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


just as much a business deal as it is activism.

Sounds like the best kind of business deal.



I agree. I was more thinking about it from the perspective of judging Target. No mind has necessarily been changed. No point of view has necessarily been altered. All we know is they wanted to carry a product, then they bargained to get that product.

If Gaga (and presumably her people) really made that deal happen, it's pretty awesome, but it could easily be reversed if sales aren't stellar, or someone who'll make more money for Target wants them to nix it.
posted by defenestration at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2011


If you're expecting a 25 year old girl to represent you and every other gay person out there, then I suspect that you're expecting too much. She's staunchly and vocally pro-gay, and although she's going to get it wrong on occasion I think this upswell of criticism misses an important thing. That is, the's staunchly and vocally pro-gay.

So she doesn't understand you? You're on the internet using fully formed sentences so I imagine you're not actually her target audience. There's pretty much 0 young pop artists who represent me too. And that's mainly because I'm over 35 years of age and I'm not as stupid as I once was.

She's gonna make mistakes. Tell her what she's got wrong, but don't hate her. She's young and she's a bit too exuberant and a bit too clumsy, but she speaks up for homosexuality. The world needs more people like her.
posted by seanyboy at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


anigbrowl: "And yes, I have a standard for judging these things - whether the proportions of contrasting elements within a work are harmonious or not. Isn't that sufficient?"

I should make it clear that when I say we in my screed above, I include myself. And given that, I can tell you why harmoniousness of elements is not sufficient: I happen, for my part, to be very fond of the purposefully brutal, the intentionally unharmonious developments of the 20th century. But yeah, maybe for you rejecting the worst excrescences of the 20th century is the way out.

I am not saying that mass culture is a brand new thing, (hell I am pretty sure even Plato and Aristotle were complaining about mass culture). But that the attempt to strive for something better, to hold things to a higher standard, is fragmented, and held in less esteem.

Like I said, I am as much a participant in what I am talking about as anyone else these days - my love for ugly, inaccessible transgressive crap (and my inclination to make same) is part of a larger dynamic that erases the distinction between pandering and artistic skill, because this vile stuff I am fond of is not a viable commodity and isn't much of a basis for a culture, leaving a vacuum for the most vapid of pop culture to expand even further.
posted by idiopath at 12:38 PM on March 3, 2011


I have a question. Do most companies go out of their way to avoid giving money to politicians who are anti-gay? I always got the impression that companies tended to give money to politicians in hopes they'd motivate them to return the favor. If one was a clear winner, they might just give money to that politician, or if it's a close race or they just want some extra insurance, they'd give money to both parties.

I remember hearing durring 2004 a pseudo-controversy that Heinz was giving excessive money to the Kerry campaign, but then non-conservative news sources looked into it and saw that Heinz was also giving a lot of money to Bush, too.

Of course, I'd much rather companies that try to appear progressive on gay rights work to avoid giving to politicians who want to turn back the clock on the movement. I'm guessing asking them not to give to people who support the status quo would be too hard, and asking them to just run a business and not buy the government's favor would be insanity.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:46 PM on March 3, 2011



That's silly. Fred Phelps and football have very indirect relationship to whatever "straight culture" is.

Exactly!

What I am seeing in spadefuls on the linked site is this weeping over a monolithic gay culture that doesn't reflect how special and unique each individual is (And Gaga, certainly, doesn't go on about how special and unique each individual is).

Look at posts by ArcticWoman and Blucevalo. Two queer(or however they prefer to identify) individuals with experiences that aren't really part of that monolith. And yet, they still identify how they do, they are part of that culture. My complaint about the linked sites and the people I ranted about earlier is that they complain that gay culture is not their gay culture, rather than seeing that they fit into a larger gay culture. I know Fred Phelps and Football are not straight culture, because that very idea is absurd. Yet, when we talk about gay culture suddenly we can only examine the pop and not the diversity of experiences. For a culture that existed clandestinely for decades we sure fixate on just the images on TV.

It could be that I need an education in the niceties of modern gay culture, but is that the best you can come up with? "STFU, you just need a cock stuffed up your ass"?

That was a joke about the g0ys I mentioned. Who, indeed, need a cock stuffed up their asses.

posted by munchingzombie at 12:53 PM on March 3, 2011


This far into the thread I am still at a loss as to what Lady Gaga has done wrong, what she could have done that would have been 'right', and above all, why anyone cares.
posted by unSane at 12:54 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry to hurt your feelings

No apologies necessary! I just don't know what you expect someone to prove. Others have pointed out that she is involved in activism, so what does it matter how late she came to it? Does she regard her activism as "good business" in addition to, apparently, believing in it? Probably. So what? She's an entertainer. Disliking her music or disliking the kinds of people she puts in her videos are valid reasons to dislike Lady Gaga, but what it sounds like I'm hearing is that because of this she needs to be held to higher standards of purity than the average queer on the street.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2011


octobersurprise, I think you are hearing that because a lot of people are saying it, but not in so offensive terms as you have put it.
posted by hellslinger at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2011


but, just as with so many movements, i believe we need to remember who is not being represented. that that seems to be what this is about.

I think that is reasonable enough. I also do not think that's what the site is about. I wish that's what the site was about. To start with, the site isn't called "Gays Who Aren't Represented by Gaga," it's "Gays Against Gaga" -- it's actively opposed to the idea of her being someone who progresses gay rights because it doesn't speak for them in particular -- no matter that she doesn't claim to, no matter that it does represent some people. They feel under-represented and so instead of simply pointing that out (the reasonable sort of thing you suggest) it seems they see it almost as a zero sum game, where they can only gain representation if they marginalize other gay groups, hence they have to actively be against Gaga.

When I read the site I see a bunch of comments like this:

"some of us queers can see through the marketing machine" -- thus Gaga is pandering and insincere, and if you support Gaga you're apparently deluded or too stupid to see through the marketing machine and you're being exploited by her

"some of us aspire to create our own culture, not just settle for being a target market" -- the idea that stereotypical gay culture is somehow not even legitimate and real, not simply that it doesn't fit everyone; it was cooked up and pushed by people like Gaga to make money

"Withdrawing economic support: an important tactic" -- this entire post posits that Gaga doesn't actually care about gay people and is just pandering to get their money

same for the Jenna Maroney joke

"that doesn’t make Gaga a gay icon, or give her the right to make herself a mouthpiece for the gay community" -- Gaga (or anyone, apparently) has to somehow prove they have the "right" to progress gay rights. How do you do this? You have to push for the kind of gay culture that the particular poster finds acceptable, in this instance. In other instances, you have to have been gay enough in some other way. Not to mention the jump from speaking up for gay rights suddenly making someone a "mouthpiece for the gay community." Is there any way Gaga could support gay rights without her detractors making this leap? It doesn't seem so. She can't write a song about being yourself because she hasn't earned the "right."

"EVERY EMPIRE TELLS ITSELF AND THE WORLD THAT IT IS UNLIKE ALL OTHER EMPIRES, THAT ITS MISSION IS NOT TO PLUNDER AND CONTROL, BUT TO EDUCATE AND LIBERATE." This is particularly egregious. This is not "hey guys weren't under-represented in gay culture" at all. This makes other depictions of gay culture something to fight against, and again implies delusion if you support or identify with the usual depiction of gay culture.

"It’s either ignorance, greed, or—most likely—some combination of the two." as regards her association with some anti-gay brands -- It is not simply that it's very difficult to find any large corporation who doesn't contribute to Republicans and thus any pop video, which tends to have a lot of cultural references, is going to be problematic, no; Gaga is both ignorant and greedy, despite the fact that she was not paid by some of the brands they listed, included them for artistic purposes, and indeed compared some of them to poison. Oh, and she has used her leverage to get Target to quit funding anti-gay groups AND donate to pro-gay groups, but what a greedy ignorant pandering bitch, amirite? The sad truth of the matter is there's probably not a single one of us who can be sure our own home is free of products produced by people who donate to Republicans.

I could go on, but I'm getting tired. Then it's just more of the same, where they don't like Gaga and criticize her personally, or her songs and videos in particular, and not always when it has anything to do with being gay. It's just a take-down of Gaga without any of the substance you'd expect from a site that cares about giving a voice to people who are under-represented. Instead, there is a WHOLE lot of attacking the predominant gay culture, and not much else.
posted by Nattie at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have a question. Do most companies go out of their way to avoid giving money to politicians who are anti-gay? I always got the impression that companies tended to give money to politicians in hopes they'd motivate them to return the favor. If one was a clear winner, they might just give money to that politician, or if it's a close race or they just want some extra insurance, they'd give money to both parties.

I used to work in politics, and yes, that's it exactly. If a company gives directly to an anti-gay group, that's pretty jacked up and you can assume they have a dog in the gay fight. ("Dog in the Gay Fight" might be a good band name.) That's not usually what happens, though. Most companies don't care about gay anything, and they give money to politicians because they expect that politician to advance things that will help their business. Republicans get a lot of money from businesses just because they tend to progress corporate interests in general -- but yeah, tons of companies give to both parties just to hedge their bets, and especially if they want something in particular.

Nearly everything you see or touch has Republican money behind it at some point -- and Democrat money often enough, too. It's way too pervasive to expect anyone to be involved in entertainment and be able to function without interacting with the products of companies who donate to Republicans. I've yet to see someone who can even Republican-proof their own household, or even a single room in their house.

So yeah, I'd want to know -- and so would Gaga, I imagine -- if she was supporting companies that directly donate to anti-gay groups. That's actually possible to avoid. But the site isn't very rational; it doesn't like Gaga and wants to say she's anti-gay, so it digs for rationalizations and presents it like she had other options that would be totally free of Republican money. This is almost never possible. Gayness itself could become a physical being, pure of motives and of perfect justice, and it would not be able to accomplish this.
posted by Nattie at 1:10 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've always wondered how much she was really helping. I mean, her act is extremely alienating to social conservatives, who are pretty much enemy number one to progress on gay rights. She dresses weird, she sings about a lifestyle that could be seen as hedonistic, does weird blasphemous things in some of her videos, and she fills the stereotype of the elite separate from "Real America" pretty well.

Imagine if Taylor Swift advocated the same policy changes that Lady Gaga does. Sure, she'd probably get raked over the coals like the Dixie Chicks and maybe need to change her record label (she's still signed on with a country label, and they tend to be conservative). But it'd probably also send a message that gay rights are no longer just a thing for those weird liberal areas, and maybe get some of her fans to think about why this country is so resistant to progress towards equality. Of course, that doesn't happen because "normal" pop stars try to avoid controversy.

With Lady Gaga, I feel like she's just preaching to the choir. There's nothing wrong with rallying the base, but the problem isn't about gay people not wanting rights enough. The problem is that the general population is not asking for this, either due to apathy or bigotry.

Still, if Lady Gaga brightens even one gay teenager's outlook on life, I guess I can't say she's not part of the solution.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:18 PM on March 3, 2011


I think you are hearing that because a lot of people are saying it, but not in so offensive terms as you have put it.

If people are saying what I'm hearing then I'm putting it in the least offensive way. The comments quoted by Nattie above are a lot more offensive. Anyway, there isn't anything offensive about saying you dislike Gaga's music, nor that her representations of "gay culture" fail to depict more than a tiny slice of the LGBT world. Even saying that "Lady Gaga sucks and she's a bad queer/activist" isn't offensive, just silly, like the old joke "What awful food! Yes, and such small portions!"
posted by octobersurprise at 1:25 PM on March 3, 2011


I went to a sold-out Lady Gaga show in September. While I was excited to be there, I found myself waiting for the show to turn from merely "interesting" to "incredible" -- and damn if it didn't do just that, multiple times over.

On the way in, we'd seen a Virgin Mobile kiosk with a giant gyroscope in which people could pose for pictures. To do so, we had to text them. Yeah, it was a huge marketing gimmick designed to collect personal info, but what the hey -- after all, the promoters said, Gaga herself would call one lucky person in the middle of the show -- get it? Telephone! -- and have a live chat with them before heading backstage and schmoozing some more.

Oh, and every text meant more donations to a local AIDS/gay rights charity, up to $25k in Milwaukee alone. Not bad.

So we're sitting there as she stands alone on the stage, punching in the numbers as a video camera swings around the arena. A phone starts ringing, somebody picks up, and the camera focuses in on THAT GUY. I could immediately tell that there was nothing random about his selection.

He was probably about 21, pudgy and pasty and sweaty (hey, this IS Wisconsin), maybe even balding a little, wearing makeup in a vaguely soccer-mom way. He was well over 6', even without his giant platform heels, and he wore fishnets and some kind of cheap gold sequined camisole. It was the kind of outfit you wear when you hear you're supposed to look "outrageous" but a) have never tried such a thing, b) wouldn't know where to look and c) only have access to 20 bucks and your local Goodwill.

We'd seen him wandering the halls, apparently on his own. Even among the crowd of crazy outfits, he was easy to remember; I'd tried not to remark about him because to my eyes, he looked kind of pathetic.

But I knew how he felt: going to a place where you think that people might see you as being different from the way the rest of the world sees -- and dismisses -- you; risking ridicule from the prettier or cooler people because your best can never measure up to things they take for granted; hoping against hope that someone might like you for a change.

So here's Lady Gaga, just hangin' out, and here's this Richard Simmons-y guy, hyperventilating because his idol called him on the phone and EVERYBODY IS WATCHING. And they're having a personal little chat!

In fact... here's a video of that very moment!

She told this kid that he looked wonderful and that he had put a lot of effort into his outfit. Then she let him tell his story -- how she had inspired him to come out of the closet -- and got 18,000 people to cheer for him just the way he was, because God had made him that way, and "God doesn't make mistakes."

Say whatever you want about it being a marketing gimmick, but she did NOT have to pick that kid. He'll remember it for the rest of his life. I probably won't forget it either.
posted by Madamina at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2011 [52 favorites]


i believe we need to remember who is not being represented

Why can't they be represented by someone else? Lady Gaga can represent one aspect of gay culture or the people who enjoy her style of dance music, other artists can represent other aspects of gay culture in other genres or media. Why should artists be required to represent everyone within a particular community, or not be allowed to represent anyone at all?

And given that, I can tell you why harmoniousness of elements is not sufficient: I happen, for my part, to be very fond of the purposefully brutal, the intentionally unharmonious developments of the 20th century.

Intentional disharmony can still reveal harmonious proportion, or even embody it (in rhythmic or structural divisions of disharmonious material), so it's entirely possible to have an aesthetic exploration of the ugly...but we're not going to settle questions about the philosophy of art here.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered how much she was really helping. I mean, her act is extremely alienating to social conservatives, who are pretty much enemy number one to progress on gay rights. She dresses weird, she sings about a lifestyle that could be seen as hedonistic, does weird blasphemous things in some of her videos, and she fills the stereotype of the elite separate from "Real America" pretty well.

Yeah, no, sorry. I know you might not mean "If y'all just dressed and acted like normal people, then social conservatives wouldn't hate you," but that's an awful lot what it sounds like. There are plenty of "normal-looking" famous gay people in the media (Tim Gunn, Ellen, Dick Cheney's daughter), and social conservatives still hate us and think we don't deserve rights. Locking the flamers in the closet is not going to get them to change their minds. They don't hate us because we are outrageous (well, that's not the only reason). They hate us because we won't or can't live the way they say we should live, and because of who we fuck, and because apparently anyone who says they don't need an opposite-sex spouse and kids to feel happy and complete must mean that anyone who *does* want those things is deficient in some way.

And? They are not who she's trying to preach to, and it doesn't have to be. This is a multi-front fight. Right now, her thing is to use her economic power to (for instance) get Target to stop giving money to anti-gay groups, and also to reach kids who like pop music.
posted by rtha at 1:49 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Joe Beese: "To be fair, Gaga is one of the only "gay icons" that has actually openly embraced her status as such.

Unless you have more a stringent definition of "openly" than I do, I'm having a hard time thinking of any who have not embraced such.
"

Hell, I think even Tammy Faye was pretty open about her support of the gay community!
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on March 3, 2011


I've always wondered how much she was really helping. I mean, her act is extremely alienating to social conservatives, who are pretty much enemy number one to progress on gay rights. She dresses weird, she sings about a lifestyle that could be seen as hedonistic, does weird blasphemous things in some of her videos, and she fills the stereotype of the elite separate from "Real America" pretty well.

That is the very reason I like her as a queer rights activist. From its inception, the queer rights movement has been about giving a voice to all of those outside society's mainstream. Gay rights has gotten soft and is working really hard on the "see, we are just like you" campaign with gay marriage and DADT. While I think these are good things generally, it ignores our history of trying to get a place at the table for everyone. Lady Gaga celebrates that.

We have had decades of straight allies wearing little red ribbons or saying nice things about us. That is good, but people generally don't care that Susan Sarandon is an advocate.

She isn't a savior. But it is nice to have her on our side.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems silly to criticize her for not speaking for everyone as it doesn't seem she ever claimed to be.

What interests me about this is that it may partially be an unintended side-effect of her whole schtick. She's put a great deal of effort into the meta-ness of herself. She is a self-referential symbol of pop and fame grown beyond control. A fame monster, if you will. She deliberately packages herself as a commentary on packaging. It's not that surprising then that some may wonder what portions of her are real and which are assembled.

To my mind the most interesting thing she does is play with the idea that maybe there is no substantive difference between the parts that are "real" and the parts that are assembled to spec.
posted by Babblesort at 2:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yo, dawg, we heard you like fame, so we put fame in your fame so you can muse on fame while you fame.

I am so sorry.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2011


With Lady Gaga, I feel like she's just preaching to the choir. There's nothing wrong with rallying the base, but the problem isn't about gay people not wanting rights enough. The problem is that the general population is not asking for this, either due to apathy or bigotry.

Thing is, she's not just preaching to the choir. She's preaching to young people all over America, and lots of young people love her. Just think, in the 2+ years since Prop 8 passed in California, a bunch of elderly prejudiced folk have passed away and a bunch of young people have turned 18 and can now vote. And lots of those new 18-year-olds love Gaga, and I'm sure not a small percentage of those young fans who might not otherwise be pro-gay are being influenced by her.

So she's doing some good.
posted by Tin Man at 2:17 PM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


To suggest that someone is actually queer shouldn't support gay rights, and is only doing it to pander, makes me livid.

I'm still trying to get my head around this local dust-up between a gay marriage activist and a trans-rights activist, wherein, if I've understood it all correctly, the trans activist outed the gay marriage activist for the crime of working towards gay marriage in a state where an existing gay rights bill didn't include transgendered rights, instead of first working on getting trans-rights added to the existing law.
posted by nomisxid at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Madamina - that video is awesome. Awesome.
posted by kavasa at 2:35 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for sharing that story/video, Madamina. I'll admit that's pretty damn cool.
posted by kryptondog at 2:47 PM on March 3, 2011


my impression has been that gaga was kind of surprised by her connection with and popularity within the gay community, and that her messages and work since, particularly 'born this way', have been much about repaying that esteem and taking a supportive stand. I'm gay, and I approve this pop artist.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:52 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


i'm a feminist, bisexual housewife in a heterosexual marriage. i'm not queer enough for anyone, excepting the bullies who scrawled dyke and slut on my locker every chance they got.

gaga doesn't speak for "the gays," she speaks for the freaks who are constantly told they don't fit in somewhere. it seems a bisexual woman is a great place for that message to come from. she's never claimed to be mama monster for all the gays, she's mother monster for her little monsters. it's a self identified group. if you aren't part of it, it seems silly and time wasting to get mad at those of us who are.

as always in these threads, i'll drop gaga, palmer, madonna.
posted by nadawi at 2:56 PM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


In fact... here's a video of that very moment!

That was just bloody lovely.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 3:08 PM on March 3, 2011


I actually found another one! You can see the guy at 1:40; his mind is just blown.

There were so many moments in that concert that had me in awe. I'm pretty cynical about theatrics and stuff, but I found myself crying at least two or three times. I think everyone in that arena found something in the show that spoke to the need to be accepted, no matter who you are.

When she sat down and accompanied herself on the piano -- beautifully, I might add -- it shot a giant jet of flame into the air as she played. It sounds silly, but it tugged at my heart to see someone talented be so nonchalant about giving a quality performance while doing something so utterly ridiculous. I remembered how it felt when music teachers gave me dirty looks because I committed the unforgivable sin of, say, wearing a knee-length skirt in a recital. She was showing me the power and freedom of taking your gifts, whatever they might be, into your own hands: it didn't matter how you did it, or how you were SUPPOSED to do it, but that you did it at all. (God, I'm such a sucker for that little minx.)

Babblesort: it's ironic, because she takes great pains to prove that she's real amidst the artifice. Example: she does a ton of crowd chat, and between songs she often stops and breathes heavily into the mic to make sure you know she's not lipsyncing. It's kind of like, "Look, Monsters, everyone else might think that I'm/we're crazy, but you and me and 18,000 of our closest friends know the truth, and that's all that matters, right?"

I think everyone can benefit from feeling like that. The more you do, the more you can understand the ways in which others might not feel accepted, and you can more easily develop compassion for people you don't even know.
posted by Madamina at 3:15 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


but I think Gaga isn't for reasonably intellectual adults who have their queer identity figured out securely.

You're on the internet using fully formed sentences so I imagine you're not actually her target audience.

I’m 23, and I’ve been out since I was 14. I’ve got the queer identity thing figured out pretty well. As for “reasonably intellectual”? Well, I have a degree in computer science from Berkeley. And look, here I am on the Internet using fully-formed sentences!

For the record, I absolutely love Lady Gaga. I have tickets to see her concert in Oakland in two weeks.

Can we cut out the rhetoric about Lady Gaga fans being immature/stupid? In particular, the bits about her fans being too dumb to know better. I know what she is, and I love her for it. So stop making it out like we’re a bunch of slathering idiots.
posted by spitefulcrow at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Madamina - she takes great pains to prove that she's real amidst the artifice

i've always loved this about her. i've seen her seemingly purposefully fuck up or be late to a note in live performances so you can hear exactly what her backing track is and what is her. some people critique her because she's not the greatest dancer, greatest singer, greatest piano player - but it's part of what i love about her - she's not the best but she won't use that as an excuse to not do it. p!nk is another singer in this group. i wish they'd both use a lot less auto tune on their records, but i know they're selling for a group that needs to compete in the loudness wars. i just keep waiting for either of them to record a stripped down/acoustic/lounge singer record.
posted by nadawi at 3:25 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't listen to "So Happy I Could Die" and not hear a gay anthem in there, along with many echoes of other gay anthems of the past 35 years, all the way back to "Never Can Say Goodbye."
posted by blucevalo at 4:26 PM on March 3, 2011


Fuckin' A, Gays!
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on March 3, 2011


(by which I mean, it's entirely possible that they're are gay folks who (like this straight dude) find her music and her shtick boring)
posted by jonmc at 5:17 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was a young intellectual gay boy I might have had a stake in this discussion. It's not uninteresting or lacking in value. It's just that I don't really don't have a stake in it anymore.

As a pudgy middle-aged gay guy with more personally important things to worry about, controversies like this are simpler for me now. I like her music. I like her. And I like her letting the rest of the world forget that the fight for LGBT rights isn't over. That means a lot.

And that is all. Now get off my lawn.

There, I said it.
posted by treepour at 10:10 PM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


(oops -- I meant "not letting" instead of "letting" -- sorry!)
posted by treepour at 10:13 PM on March 3, 2011


"To be fair, Gaga is one of the only "gay icons" that has actually openly embraced her status as such."

I think the issue here is whether she's "embraced" or "co-opted for profit." Liking gay things and gay culture is the new "I have a black friend."

(As for the title of this FPP, we also would have accepted "Queer as Fauxlk")
posted by Eideteker at 6:15 AM on March 4, 2011


(glad you didn't go for "faux homo," though)
posted by Eideteker at 7:04 AM on March 4, 2011


I think the issue here is whether she's "embraced" or "co-opted for profit."

i think people tend to forget that gaga had already successfully hacked fame on a worldwide scale before she was known for gay activism; she didn't (and doesn't) need to pander. and she never needed to try; her brand of creativity was ready-made for a gay audience.

but also people forget that at the time she made her statements on 'don't ask, don't tell', that topic had been languishing pretty low in the national conversation.

i think one of the clearest messages in the alejandro video is that, in the end, she gave herself over to her gay audience. unless she's a much better actress than her detractors would acknowledge, i think she's absolutely sincere in how, within pretty much every interview i've seen, she acknowledges and appreciates her fans and is really moved by the connection she has with them. it always seemed to me that she became very famous very quickly, but then she was also very quick in finding a purpose in her fame and using it for something beyond herself.

many who speak against her put a lot of energy into it, and they obviously get something out of that. as someone who accepts her and her work in the spirit and joie de vivre with which they are offered, i like where i am, even if it's characterized as blissful ignorance by dour pseudo-academics.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:28 AM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


(by which I mean, it's entirely possible that they're are gay folks who (like this straight dude) find her music and her shtick boring)

I'm a gay folk who doesn't really have a horse in this race, actually. I can take her or leave her. I just think on the whole there's nothing as horrific about her as some here would claim, and there are a few of her songs that I really enjoy. I don't think that she's the spokeswoman for gaydom (nor does she claim to be), nor do I think that she's the downfall of civilization as we know it.

I'll just go back and listen to my old man music now .....
posted by blucevalo at 7:50 AM on March 4, 2011


I went to the same concert as Madamina but in August, in Vancouver. I was seriously worried that I would be the oldest and the fattest audience member, and was really heartened to see so many misfits of all description. The person she called in my show was a nondescript woman in her early thirties (?) who was just completely verklempt at speaking to the Gaga. I don't remember that woman, but I do remember how amazed I was that a completely mainstream artist (maybe the most mainstream artist at the moment) had chosen a charity serving queer youth, and united a full stadium of queer and straight people to support it. She didn't have to choose a queer charity, but she did. She doesn't have to identify as bisexual (I am bisexual, but typically identify myself as gay for all the reasons noted above), but she does.

All that can be true, and I can still say that there isn't one Gay Culture, and Lady Gaga doesn't represent all of us. Fine, she doesn't need to and she shouldn't have to be everything to all (queer) people.

I think part of what the blog is saying, is that she doesn't even respectfully represent the segment of gay culture that she claims to. The video for Alejandro being "A collection of naked, faceless, featureless and acceptably masculine men who dance with a woman and writhe around in bed with a woman, and, okay, maybe wrestle with and grunt at each other in their spare time." That sort of depiction doesn't help anyone, not even scared lonely 16 year old closeted gay boys. Gay men don't exist to serve straight women, no matter what Sex and the City says, and it's frustrating to see someone who claims to be on our side (politically/ideologically) , and who demonstrates with her charitable and business actions that she IS on our side, repeat these same characterizations.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2011


Gay men don't exist to serve straight women...

my take on the video is that it demonstrates this very point. gaga indicated at one point that the video depicted her relationship with gay men. for her music and fashion sensibility (and video director), the gay dancers made sense as a type. but the evolution over the course of the video is that first she is a (heartbroken and) distant, removed observer of gay men; then she gets closer to them and is sexually attracted (she tries to dominate them, and they don't respond to it); then she tries to purify her thoughts (and adopts the madonna-like performer->gay dancer professional relationship); and finally, she accepts and gives into the mutual admiration, but on their terms (they 'capture' her and mold her into what they want, and she submits to it).

but in terms of her intentions, it's not complicated at all. she gives her opinions freely and hasn't given us a reason to distrust their sincerity.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:37 AM on March 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Gaga invites 10-year-old Maria Aragon onstage to sing "Born This Way", and I do not care what you say, it is adorable.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:52 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


fallacy: I like your reading of that video. Neat.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2011


thanks, bro. i go back to her video stuff quite a bit. i love her pop instincts, but also that she knows who to trust for styling and visuals. i'm blown away by what they'll put together, and i always love that in each video she'll look like several different women.

as for the site, i think it's strange that they'll go to such lengths to find something nefarious in what she is doing, but clearly in the process they often get it wrong and/or miss the point and humor in it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2011


Born This Way covered by katy perry
posted by nadawi at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2011


^^ link don't work. :( (is this performance from Paris (25s pre-roll ad for ... dunno) it?)

I think the issue here is whether she's "embraced" or "co-opted for profit." Liking gay things and gay culture is the new "I have a black friend."

Well ... LG also identifies as bisexual. Rather than "I have a black friend," it's more like "I'm black and it's OK."

I honestly didn't know she was bisexual before this thread. If that's what she says and there's no reason to doubt her, I don't know why anyone would question her allegiance to LGBT issues.

Of course her fans should always question her corporate allegiances and the anti-LGBT money involved in such.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Perry changes the lyrics from "I was born this way" to "You were born this way.")
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on March 8, 2011




just as much a business deal as it is activism.

Sounds like the best kind of business deal.


I agree. I was more thinking about it from the perspective of judging Target. No mind has necessarily been changed. No point of view has necessarily been altered. All we know is they wanted to carry a product, then they bargained to get that product.

If Gaga (and presumably her people) really made that deal happen, it's pretty awesome, but it could easily be reversed if sales aren't stellar, or someone who'll make more money for Target wants them to nix it.


The corporation was born this way.
posted by defenestration at 10:40 AM on March 9, 2011




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