Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lady Gaga and the Death of Creativity

Am I the only one not feeling Lady Gaga?

I know what you’re thinking: “She’s a sensation! Everyone loves her. Her songs are hits. She’s so popular. She’s a fashion maker’s dream. She wore a meat dress! She’s the next Madonna…”

Nope. I’m not feeling it. I know I’m swimming against the stream, but I’m going to say this anyway. Lady Gaga is the living epitome of everything that is wrong with the art machine in America.

I’m calling it the art machine because those running the show in movies, music, and publishing are churning out entertainment pablum faster than you can say “Please pass the Soylent Green.” Remember that old movie? People were being fed Soylent Green and liking it, because all the ads told them to like it. Until someone found out he was eating recycled human flesh.

Lady Gaga reminds me of Soylent Green. She’s packaged and marketed with the message that she’s unique, and therefore lovable. But she’s not the “next Madonna.” She’s not even “another Madonna.” She’s a cheap imitation. A knockoff, and a bad one at that. If she were a purse, I’d be afraid to carry her around for fear that she’ll fall apart at the seams, that’s how poorly she’s made.

I don’t want to be mean about it, because I have sympathy for whatever person is trapped beneath the ugly hat and cheesy Batman outfit she was trying to sport at the Grammy Awards last Sunday. But I think someone really needs to pull her aside and tell her it isn’t working.

And by “it,” I mean her creativity and uniqueness, which are MIA even though she doesn't seem to have noticed.

For crying out loud, she came out of a giant egg to sing “Born That Way.” Get it? Maybe she should have taped it with a big sign that reads “Ovum” to be sure we all got it. And by the way, if she wanted the joke to be funnier, she shouldn’t have taken her bad dancing so seriously. The whole mess didn’t work as a serious performance. It didn’t work as satire. It sure didn’t work as an homage to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” performance, which I must say is so drastically better than the egg thing that I just hope Gaga never realizes how bad she was.

What is truly sad here is that the woman underneath the Gaga mask is extremely talented. But you can’t see her talent because she is so insecure that she allows others to define how she should look and how she should act. And all the art machine can do is make her look like someone else. Another Madonna. But we don’t need another Madonna. We need real people.

Reality leads to creativity. Imitation leads to Soylent Green. You can choose which you prefer, and consume what you want. But myself, I’d rather starve than eat the pablum.

Copyright © 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. I disagree here. I do think the egg production fell flat, but that is not the complete resume of Lady Gaga. If you go back and take a look at her body of work, she has not been a follower of fashion or style. She has not let others define her, but instead has packaged herself in the way she wants. I understand others may not like that packaging, or her music, but it has been very evident from the beginning that she is the one controlling her choices, for good or bad.

    Regarding the overall death of creativity you mention, I don't see that either. I think Hollywood in particular has an incredible list of creative accomplishments this year, including Black Swan, Rabbit Hole and Inception to just name a few. The real lack of creativity is where it's always been, in the most advertised, most promoted work. It is the fault of the audience who bows to that and goes to see the safe movies in abundance, ignoring the more creative ones. The movie 'The Social Network' and 'The Kids are Alright' both were interesting but ultimately unsatisfying because they played it safe in style, technique and substance. TV shows that have every cliche in the book in it (Off The Map) are also good examples of that lack of creativity.

    But the real question is whether it's any different than any other time. I say no. Most people are followers. They don't want creativity that strays very far from what they are used to. They want Thomas Kinkade not Banksy. They want McDonalds, not an exotic food experience. They want Target, not Haute Couture. They want Miley Cyrus, not Lady Gaga. People want to fit in with what they like and are seen to follow.

    Not all people are like that obviously, but enough are, and always have been for all of mankind's history, that we will always have most creativity be of a very mild sort, and most extremely creative work will be dissed at first, until it comes to Wal-Mart.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful counterpoint. We can agree to disagree on Gaga, because I'm not convinced she's earned the hype she gets. But I respect your opinion. Time will certianly tell if her work is lasting.

    And yes, many people want what is familiar. That will never change.

    However, even if everyone wanted something unique, I don't think the entertainment machine would want to provide unique films, TV, music and books that make only a slim amount of money. The bulk of profits comes from big hits, right? So isn't it in the industry's self-interest to provide something that appeals to the most people, even if it's crap, rather than really good art that isn't as popular? I suspect that bottom line is the real reason any product plays it safe.

    Perhaps I'll write a post on money soon...

  3. I disagree, Lady Gaga has her own way of showing things. Sure some of her ideas weren't good, but she outlines her style from the others, and doesn't let anybody define or categorize her.


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