Like a Virgin with a Case of Gagaphilia


I must have a condition and don’t know what to call it, because–well, let’s just start with the side-effects of the medication to treat it and see if one of the pharmaceuticals can reverse-engineer me up something and convince a bunch of other people they need it, too. Just so the rich can get richer and me not feel so all alone.

Either skip over this part or read it real fast like they do:

sideeffectsmayincludecompulsiveleapingafterbandwagonshypercriticismhypo-criticismhyperventilationdecreasedtoleranceacrossabroadspectrumofalternatives inoneormoreofthefollowing:religiouspersuasionsexualorientationlifestylechoices definitionoffamilyvaluesstandardsofbeautyacceptablebehaviorandorintelligence excessiveblushingdecreasedperipheralvisionlongtermmemorylossaninabilityto proveBillO’Reillywrongdecreasedvocabularywarmongeringbleatingherdingde-creaseabilitytoseethecolorgrayreflexiveinvoluntaryandunconditionalpatriotism creationismhomeschoolinggatedcommunityhabitationandothermilderformsof
dementia.

Here’s where I’m coming from and why I say they might ought to bury long-term memory loss in there as a side-effect, because it sounds like a bad thing. Right? Like ignorance is a side-effect of bliss. Only in reality, the side-effect, so-called, is the delivery mechanism of the cure for what ails you. Which is nothing other than the way things are. Or you believe deep-down they are. Which is not the same difference, except it might as well be, because just like between gravity and acceleration, common sense says there might actually be a difference, but try putting your finger on it.

You with me? Because don’t make me repeat myself.

I started off on a tangent, I know. It ain’t the first time and it won’t be the last. What I really want to talk about is three women. Starting with the one it is currently fashionable amongst people of a certain age bracket to despise.

If you guessed Lady Gaga, you are our grand prize winner today.

As I see it, Lady Gaga inspires one of two main things: blatant loathing or devotion. I don’t see many people on the fence about her. Reason being?

Hard to sit on barbwire.

Girls who grew up listening to contestant number two, Madonna, consider Gaga a knock-off. I will say this, she studied the playbook. That’s in Chapter One of the playbook. Study somebody else’s playbook before you go making up your own. The whole thing, I mean. Including Chapter Two, which is where most people give up or get it wrong, because Chapter Two is confusing. It starts off saying one thing and then switches it up on you. First it says, “Be your damn self.”

Since most of us do our reading on the subject of who to admire and emulate at something like, let’s just average it out and say thirteen, we think we know what “be yourself” means. It means everybody else. It’s pretty clear to me who you are, so it must be clear to you, too. Especially if you’re Madonna. She’s so clear-cut, it’s got to be easy to be her. So I’ll just do that. Or nowadays, because Madonna’s old and age makes you vague, I’ll be Lady Gaga.

Girls–yes, I’m talking to girls, but boys can chime in, too–girls get hung up on the second half of the chapter, which concludes the sentence, “Be your damn self,” this way: “by becoming someone else.”

That, in a nutshell–me being the nut, you might be inclined to say, but hear me out–is the formula for commercial success in the arts. And no, I am not sneering at commercial success in the arts. At least not until I get me some of it. But let me put the whole thing together, parts 1, 2 and 2a, 2b and 2c.

  1. Study somebody else’s playbook
  2. Be your damn self by adopting the persona of somebody else who a) is uber commercially successful and b) your audience is too young to remember, except c) as an icon of established and therefore irrelevant (to thirteen-year-olds) fame.

I’ll go ahead and give you part 3. Pretend that your real audience is adults. But that’s a sermon for another day.

Skip step one, though, and you don’t need the medication. You already have the side-effects. I’m going to say that again: Only a diligent historian knows how to behave according to her own true and original nature.

One more time. Repeat after me: Lady Gaga is an original.

She provokes damn near everybody one way or another, the way a sperm cell cleaves an egg, causing it to split, and split again, and go on splitting until the next new thing comes along and grows up too damn quick and probably starts having sex at too young an age all over again. By which time Lady Gaga will  have passed her prime in order to become an established cultural icon, having spawned a generation of brattling sheep imitators, one or two of whom will read the playbook and shock the moral pants off of the rest of you punks who will still be hung up on Lady Gaga in the year 2033.

Don’t blame me. I didn’t invent wrinkles. Much less the repetitive nature of history.

Take this back one more generation. Marilyn Monroe was every bit the quote-unquote slut in her day that Madonna was and Gaga is. And before her? I don’t know, Mae West? I don’t mean to imply that there can only be but one Whore of Babylon per generation, either, in a linear succession like Lady Di and the Queen of England and God save that Kate girl that married William.

All I’m saying is to know your history in order to get a handle on three things:

  • your own culture (which these days is porous as all hell)
  • how to keep it going
  • your role in it

Yes, your role, and that rhymes with soul, and that’s who you are behind the mask of what you do, and when I say rhymes, I mean aligns, not is.

Know the difference.

Shock and conquer.

Divide by awe.

That’s my sermon today. Next time up, I’ll get back to Jeannie Iverson. I got more to tell you about that girl.

Oh. One thing else. That condition I mentioned. That disorder. I’m thinking it might be a form of moral dyslexia, but if you got a better name for it, keep in mind that I do have the power to moderate your comments.

I’m just fucking with you. Go on ahead.

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About vanessacavendish

I keep a ten gauge close to hand. I shoot from the hip and I write the way a certain blind friend of mine plays piano: partly by ear and the rest by heart. So don’t even think about correcting my grammar. Did I say that with enough sugar on it? View all posts by vanessacavendish

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