September 29, 2011

The Mother Monster: NOT Just Any Other Singer

I find Lady Gaga so very interesting. She's complex. Her image and music portray and convey something very valuable, in my opinion, despite that some of her lyrics and music videos often reinforce problematic ideologies, like, for example, ones about ideal beauty and women's bodies as idealized and exotified objects to be consumed (see her video for Telephone and Bad Romance). Her lyrics and videos also confirm dualistic and hierarchical ways of thinking (men vs. women, "good" vs. "evil",  mind vs. body in Born this Way).

Regardless, I love her. First, she points out, with her obscure and wild costumes, the extent to which we construct and perform our gendered identities. For example, she takes to an extreme the imaging that many of us do everyday, thus poignantly pointing it out and deconstructing it. She wears extreme make-up, hairstyles, and outfits, all of which are based on socially constructed "masculine" and "feminine" gender scripts. In doing so,  she points out that all appearances are constructed based on such social constructions. Likewise, everyday I put on my outwardly "feminine" face and clothing, brushing my hair in a way that will make it appear "feminine". I construct my gender, and then I perform it.
She also blurs the line between the "feminine" and "masculine" genders (which I try to do as well, by wearing "masculine" pieces with more "feminine" ones). It becomes so difficult to discern what gender she is trying to embody (she actually embodies both, in my opinion), which ultimately implies that gender is not a stable category or a black and white concept--it, too, is constructed.

Second, I love that her music aims to unite people of all races, ethnicities, sexualities, sexes, genders, ages (?), abilities (?) (which you now know I LOVE).  In my opinion, she wants to promote individual empowerment, fulfillment, and happiness with and through her music. Of course, these things are limited for many people by very real social barriers that most often go unacknowledged in North America. Whether or not music actually does evade forms of difference still remains in question for me (but perhaps that's beside the point).

But I'm clearly not only the only one who feels empowered when listening to Lady Gaga. As her Google Chrome advertisement indicates, billions do! (I may have cried when I watched this...):

Her latest music video crosses all sorts of boundaries, challenges all sorts of binaries (while at the same time affirming them?) Nonetheless, she pushes us to think outside the box, outside of our comfort zones. And she makes me want to dance! What do you think? 

xo Caroline

*photos courtesy of Harper's Bazar

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