Camille Paglia: Lady GaGa, the death of sex

Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
Wow, I haven't read anything by Camille Paglia in a long time. I've always had issues with her, but she's no dummy. I didn't read the rest of the article, but I kind of agree with what CP has to say on this one (although I think "the death of sex" is a bit hysterical).

As for Lady Gaga, she's doing something right, because there are far too many threads about her on this site :rolleyes:. Still, CP has a point: I also find Gaga to be passionless, uncharismatic, and strangely devoid of sensuality. I'm normally a fan of asexuality, but Gaga just makes it feel like an emotional flatline. The lady's got talent, she can sing and she can play, but there's something frigid about her. Bowie did "cold" with great intelligence (and better than anyone); Klaus Nomi did "plastic" with real tenderness; Marilyn Mansion did alienated and f***ed up with a genuine edge. GaGa is late to the game, and she hasn't brought anything new with her. I wouldn't mind so much, except that she's a global superstar, emblematic of her time. I thought the 80s were staged, plastic and over-produced, but Gaga makes Madonna's persona seem more and more like an authentic voice.

I'm fond of this line: "Gaga's fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty." That is the sound of the old guard losing touch, but that doesn't mean it isn't (to a certain extent) true.
 
G

goinghome

Guest
I wouldn't agree that Camille Paglia has managed to demolish any myths yet, though time will tell if Lada Gaga's supersonic rise to success has landed her in over her head, mired in a myriad of references.

"Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina… "

Does she? At the same time, she appears to have created a whole new identity as a successful male model, Joe Calderone - http://hubpages.com/hub/-Lady-Gaga-Is-Joe-Calderone

What kind of nut she is hasn't been cracked quite yet.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
Paglia's real target is the age we're living in now. For her, Gaga is a representative of this age, so she's a convenient whipping girl, that's all. I liked some of what she had to say, but when she mentions the "rudeness" of wearing sunglasses during an interview she sounds old and cranky.
 

Uncleskinny

It's all good
Subscriber
This was the nearest Gaga thread I could find - they've just had a lady on Channel 4 news drawing parallels between Gaga and Linder Sterling.

Anyway, I still maintain...that Gaga is a passing marketing fad, much like The Bay City Rollers, Bros, and countless other footnotes.

P.
 

TJeromeNewton

New Member
Bowie did "cold" with great intelligence (and better than anyone); Klaus Nomi did "plastic" with real tenderness; Marilyn Mansion did alienated and f***ed up with a genuine edge. GaGa is late to the game, and she hasn't brought anything new with her. I wouldn't mind so much, except that she's a global superstar, emblematic of her time.
This is exactly—down to the referents (Bowie, Nomi, Manson)—what I've been trying to articulate about my feelings towards Gaga ever since she started climbing to the top of the charts. So very spot on. Thank you.

& as to the Paglia article (or, the excerpt available to non-subscribers): Though I'm turned off by the cattiness of her tone ("despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all"—really, now?), it's passages like this that bother me most:

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

As a member of the generation she's describing—not a Gaga fan myself, but the peer of many—I see this as a vast oversimplification, both of Teens Today & of Gaga's potential appeal. You can't really fault her for failing to emote when emoting is furthest from her intent—or, at the very least, it seems in poor form to judge her in a category into which she hasn't placed herself.

I'm as frustrated with Gaga & her rocket-rise to stardom as anybody, but what I've read of Paglia's blustering gives a bad name to her detractors. Who knows—maybe the parts I can't read make up for it?
 

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
I'm normally a fan of asexuality, but Gaga just makes it feel like an emotional flatline. The lady's got talent, she can sing and she can play, but there's something frigid about her.
.
I thought the same about her before I decided to like her. She doesn't have the charismatic sparkle in her eyes like other "stars". Her music isn't sexual or sensual at all. It's mechanical and I feel much more akin to that than any romantic melodrama produced by her contemporaries, or Madonna, or Depeche Mode, or even Morrissey. I relate to GaGa personally second to Morrissey.
Her favorite philosopher is Rainer Maria Rilke and she identifies with his philosophical notion to solidarity and oneness. As you and I have noticed, no one can get really close to GaGa. The costumes, persona, everything is a meticulous, almost impenetrable armor. People do try to understand her, or more accurately dismantle and dissect her (which is only fitting since she is mechanical), but she undoubtedly has an emotional component too, and no one will ever understand that.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
I thought the same about her before I decided to like her. She doesn't have the charismatic sparkle in her eyes like other "stars". Her music isn't sexual or sensual at all. It's mechanical and I feel much more akin to that than any romantic melodrama produced by her contemporaries, or Madonna, or Depeche Mode, or even Morrissey. I relate to GaGa personally second to Morrissey.
Her favorite philosopher is Rainer Maria Rilke and she identifies with his philosophical notion to solidarity and oneness. As you and I have noticed, no one can get really close to GaGa. The costumes, persona, everything is a meticulous, almost impenetrable armor. People do try to understand her, or more accurately dismantle and dissect her (which is only fitting since she is mechanical), but she undoubtedly has an emotional component too, and no one will ever understand that.
I can't think of a writer more different from Lady Gaga than Rainer Maria Rilke.
 

Kewpie

Member
Moderator
Subscriber
This was the nearest Gaga thread I could find - they've just had a lady on Channel 4 news drawing parallels between Gaga and Linder Sterling.

Anyway, I still maintain...that Gaga is a passing marketing fad, much like The Bay City Rollers, Bros, and countless other footnotes.

P.
Well done Channel 4 News to give a credit to Linder.

95% of viewers didn't know that Linder did it long before Gaga.
 

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
I can't think of a writer more different from Lady Gaga than Rainer Maria Rilke.
Probably her fascination with his writing is some that she can childishly aspire to, so she can have his quotes tattooed on her arm. And she has tattoo of one his quotes. It's a beautiful selection really.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
Probably her fascination with his writing is some that she can childishly aspire to, so she can have his quotes tattooed on her arm. And she has tattoo of one his quotes. It's a beautiful selection really.
I know. It is lovely. It's from "Letters To A Young Poet".

I don't know what to make of Gaga. If I had to decide today I'd want her burned at the stake (and not televised or photographed, just matches, sticks, stake, and kerosene, all in an abandoned warehouse, thanks). But I'm willing to wait five years to make a final call on her. She's either way ahead of us or way behind. Hard to tell right now. I would like her to give up meat-bikinis though. :squiffy:
 

Black Cloud

Case Sensitive
She doesn't register with me at all and it's impossible to form an opinion. She's something that other people talk about.

Not having cable and not listening to the radio really pays off sometimes.
 

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
I know. It is lovely. It's from "Letters To A Young Poet".

I don't know what to make of Gaga. If I had to decide today I'd want her burned at the stake (and not televised or photographed, just matches, sticks, stake, and kerosene, all in an abandoned warehouse, thanks). But I'm willing to wait five years to make a final call on her. She's either way ahead of us or way behind. Hard to tell right now. I would like her to give up meat-bikinis though. :squiffy:
Seriously that shit was ugly. :tears:
 
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Dave

Guest
She doesn't register with me at all and it's impossible to form an opinion. She's something that other people talk about.

Not having cable and not listening to the radio really pays off sometimes.
Black Cloud, I noe! I wouldn't post in this thread except I have been listening to the radio lately. I bought an RCA console record player - radio from this guy and I use it at work. I set a bunch of stuff on top of it so now I can't change the station. I'm on this station that will play New Order and Depeche Mode followed by AC/DC. The other day it played that one about "working as a waitress in a cocktail bar." It's some kind of revisionist historian's version of "the 80's" I think, so it doesn't play Lady Gaga. The other day it played "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi and since I couldn't change the station I unplugged it.
 

Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
As a member of the generation she's describing—not a Gaga fan myself, but the peer of many—I see this as a vast oversimplification, both of Teens Today & of Gaga's potential appeal. You can't really fault her for failing to emote when emoting is furthest from her intent—or, at the very least, it seems in poor form to judge her in a category into which she hasn't placed herself.

I'm as frustrated with Gaga & her rocket-rise to stardom as anybody, but what I've read of Paglia's blustering gives a bad name to her detractors. Who knows—maybe the parts I can't read make up for it?
Oh, Paglia's been annoying people for decades. Age isn't improving her outlook very much, that's for sure.

As for Gaga - it's not her lack of emotion that's at issue for me, so much as her lack of authenticity. Bowie, Nomi and Manson had seriously powerful, original music, with an attitude to match. You didn't have to know what Bowie looked like to hear how revolutionary he was; his image augmented his already innovative sound. The first time I saw him (with Klaus Nomi), I felt my world turn on its axis. You didn't need to know what Nomi looked like to know he was a classic artist carrying the subersive torch of Weimar into the brave new world. As for Manson, Antichrist Superstar was a confrontational, venomous, smart, complex screed that wasn't afraid to confront big, serious issues. Sure, he was a bit juvenile, but Manson really did sound like Friedrich Nietzsche's bastard son after a bad night on acid, meth and Sterno.

Gaga - the music without the clothes and the hype is just dance music - nothing new at all, and very studied. That's really what I object to most. Cranky old Camille Paglia should not have called it "the death of sex," she should have called it the "death of ingenuity" or perhaps "the final throes of unconventionality" or "individuality in a coma." I want my icons to take real risks.

I can't think of a writer more different from Lady Gaga than Rainer Maria Rilke.
She sure ain't no Engel.

I think ultimately she IS vacuous because she is impossible to pin down. If i were to compare her with Morrissey, he succeeds by escaping determinate meaning in his 'persona' and the force of his lyrics by giving shape to a certain uncertainty about human interaction in modern life; and yet he exists in context - whether that be a romanticised mid-century working-class England or as a homeless flaneur...it is easy to say what he is, behind the subversion and misdirection in his art. GaGa on the hand is a blur...she appears to aspire to be an embodiment of 21st century glamour - an 'auto fact'...but she fails at this because she doesn't belong to any physical geography like, for example, Gilbert and George have sculpted themselves into London. She is virtual, available to all but meaningful to none because everything you can say about her, the opposite is also true. The mass of contradictions within Morrissey made him interesting because, bar perhaps Wilde, his cultural references were original within pop. Within GaGa, they are rehashes of previous concepts that were once forceful, controversial even, but In her hands become compressed, decontextualised and limp.
Yes, that was what Paglia was getting at (but you sound a lot less cranky). Gaga signifies nothing, and she is a perfect avatar of her age and her medium. This is going where quite a few threads here have gone before: Gaga is a monocultural icon, and monoculture is a bland synthesis of everything innovative that came before.

Western decadence is dead. Somewhere in Pakistan there's a kid who is going to turn pop music on its head.
 
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PregnantForTheLastTime

Hideous trait.
Before reading the article, I flipped over to Youtube to watch the Alejandro video. It's a total trainwreck of mixed imagery. You've got your S&M Nazis--Bob Fosse choreographs a Nurnberg rally; you've got Eva Peron grandiosity, you've got a Captain & Tenille jumpsuit and bobbed hair, you've got machine gun tits and Godfather violins, and musical lines directly lifted from Madonna's True Blue album. There's Catholic imagery gone to the extreme--Madonna gave us a crying statue of a saint, come to life; Gaga gives us a bloody heart wrapped in barbed wire, on a pillow, and a dying S&M nun who fellates a rosary. There's even a woman's erotic sigh which I would swear on my cat's grave was sampled from one of the songs on Music for the Masses. At best, it's a confused mess. At worst, it represents (here I go, climbing up on my dead horse to beat him some more) the breakdown in context and continuity which the internet era has brought us, and the concomitant loss of meaning and structure.

Underlying it all is the banality of the music. It's not subversive. It sounds great and summery booming out of the speakers at the fruit market at my corner. This is the danger: pairing lightweight nonsense with images that carry meaning can do one of two things (;)): it can add meaning to the nonsense, or it can strip the powerful images of their weight. This was a critique of Madonna's work, that she risked stripping the Catholic images of their meaning and power by associating them with pop music. She might have started the avalanche, but we're now buried in snow.

Do I think this is a serious problem? Yes. It's a drop in the bucket, but it's a drop of poison. Put it this way: I don't care if my kids watch a Jonas Brothers video, or Owl City, or most pop. This, though, requires supervision and a long explanation of what all this stuff means. It's utterly inappropriate for an audience of teens and kids. And how many parents will take that position? How many parents will hear the music and dismiss it as harmless fun? I do not want my kids desensitized to such strong images of sex and violence and death--let alone the militaristic images. Fortunately, they're a little young to take interest in this stuff, but only by a few years. This is pop culture, now. Contrast it with what pop culture was when you were younger. See the difference?
 
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