David Civiello Dr. Ryan Hediger English 21011-805 December 8, 2011 Lady Gaga: Express Yourself Lady Gaga represents herself expressively in the styles of clothing she wears. She is very unique and outstanding. Gaga has a very imaginative and open mind. Her style of how she wants to represent herself is that she is very free spirited and an emotional performer. In his book, Looking for Fame. The Life of a Pop Princess: Lady Gaga, Paul Lester quotes Lady Gaga: “I was always an entertainer. I was a ham as a little girl and I’m a ham today” (9).
Lady Gaga struggled to get where she is today and with the help and support of her family and friends she became one of the biggest Pop Stars in such a short time in history. Lady Gaga is the first artist in history to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart with her first five singles. Gaga thrives on her performances and inspires her fans. Her devotion to her work is endless. She expresses who she, what she represents, and how she wants to be seen, by not only her clothing and style but also in her songs and what they represent.
I did find one article that was against Lady Gaga and her style, stating she has no meaning in her songs. It was written by Seth Colter Walls and titled, “The Blah-Blah of Gaga”. Walls does not agree with most others and states his opinion about Lady Gaga and her representation of her music. Walls states, “The problem with Gaga is that she refuses to add any concrete value, while also wanting us to think she has something to say” (57). He clearly does not think Gaga has meaning or that her style represents anything at all. .Walls also states, “The themes contained in her music are neither new, provocative nor philosophical” (57).
I clearly do not agree with Walls and throughout my paper will argue the fact that she does represent herself, her performances, and her music, with true meaning. Before I go into detail about my essay I will present a short biography of Lady Gaga. We shall begin with a brief biography of Lady Gaga derived from Paul Lester in his book. Lady Gaga, was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, in Yonkers, New York, on March 28, 1986. Her father, Joseph, was an internet entrepreneur and her mother, Cynthia, worked in telecommunications. Stefani has a sister that is six years younger than she.
Stefani grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her family was well-off and sent her to a catholic girl’s school called, the Convent of the Sacred Heart. At age four Stefani began taking piano lessons and wrote her first song shortly after that. It was called “Dollar Bills” which was inspired by Pink Floyd’s song, “Money”. Lester states in his book that, “The young Stefani Germanotta would take every opportunity to engage passers-by with her musical and theatrical routines”. ‘As it says on www. ladygaga. com’, “The precious child would dance around the table at fancy Upper West Side restaurants using the breadsticks as a baton.
And she would innocently greet a new babysitter in nothing but her birthday suit”(11). Lady Gaga even in her childhood wanted to be different. She wanted to represent herself and stand out in the crowd. Stefani started singing at Greenwich Village clubs on open-mic night and had to be chaperoned by her mother since she was only 13. Around this time she started getting into fashion and making some remarkable fashion statements Lady Gaga was in a number of bands and also performed by herself before her career launched. She attended college for a while at Gallatin School of Individual Study.
Gaga dropped out of college and signed a recording deal with Def Jam Records. Three months later she was dropped by Def Jam. She eventually signed with a different record label and out of nowhere Stefani became Lady Gaga. She wore a number of crazy outfits in her shows to represent how she wanted to be seen. As Lester expresses his version of Lady Gaga’s fashion and states, “Since coming to the public’s attention in 2008 she has been photographed in a staggering number of- and a number of staggering –outfits, ranging from the unexpected to the extreme, and from the extraordinary to the positively extraterrestrial” (81).
Lady Gaga, as Robin Givhan states in her Article in Time Magazine, “Armani Goes Gaga”, is that, “She has been like a turbocharger for a fashion industry stuck in first gear ever since the global recession hit, the minimalist sensibility of Celine’s Phoebe Philo took hold, and the size of the models on the runway became more controversial than what they were wearing” (40). Lady Gaga met Giorgio Armani, an Italian designer, and he created some of her outfits for videos and performances, one of which is a green spangled leotard with shoulders like Mickey Mouse ears.
Armani created a silver mini-dress with a lightning bolt head ornament. Gaga has worn some interesting outfits and mostly are inspired by Gaga and a particular song or performance has all the meaning and representation that Gaga wants the public to see. She is an artist. Every strange costume has a meaning behind it. The meat dress stood for if we don’t stand up for what we believe in we won’t be worth anything but the meat on our bones “Her style represents “liberation”, says Mathew Deflem”(39), as Givham quotes in her article.
Gaga is very true to her style and meaning of her songs. Lady Gaga started her own team of designers and calls them the “The Haus of Gaga”. Everyone that has something to do with Gaga and her outfits and accessories are a part of the Haus. Gaga has a sunglasses fetish and travels with a case of 150 different sunglasses which were created by the Haus of Gaga. Van Meter wrote an article for Vogue and states, “Like those style icons, Gaga demonstrates a commitment to outrageous self-presentation that makes every crazy costume worn by Elton or Cher or Madonna look like child’s play”(7).
Van Meter goes on in detail about her style and her ability to make decades of pop culture history into her own in a way that makes it feel like the future. Lizzy Goodman wrote a book titled, Lady Gaga Critical Mass Fashion. She goes into detail on Gaga and her love of fashion. Goodman states, “For Lady Gaga, freedom is all about subverting traditional values. She expresses this partially through bondage dress-the more punitive her clothing, the more unleashed she feels. She expresses it through extreme makeup, by transforming herself into a glamorous but grotesque pop object,” (44).
Gaga does this representation very well with wearing outfits that all represent herself and her beliefs. Goodman also quotes Gaga, “The music is intended to inspire people to feel a certain way about themselves, so they’ll be able to encompass, in their own lives, a sense of inner fame that they can project to the world” (48). Lady Gaga is so committed to transforming her body into a reflection of her artistic ability. She always has something different about her outfits, makeup nails, and her hair. Like Madonna changed her style every few years, Gaga changes her style a couple times a day.
Van Meter interviews Lady Gaga a little bit a day for a few days. Van Meter describes Lady Gaga and her music as, “It is as if each song were written for the express purpose of being belted—roared—in front of 20,000 people on an extravagant stage set with ten dancers taking up the rear. She manages to go from insane, over-the-top rock opera to syncopated dance routine to intimate, boozy piano ballad and then back again, through thirteen costume changes, without ever losing her total command of the stage” (3-4). Lady Gaga wants every show to have a full meaning.
Her continuous costume changes coincide with the songs that she performs. Her clothing helps her express not only herself but reflect on the true representation of the song and the lyrics true meaning. I watched an interview with Lady Gaga on the Fuse channel. It was titled, “Lady Gaga-On the Record With Fuse: Judas”. She was interviewed by “Toure. ” Gaga talked about some of her songs and what they were wrote about or what they represent. Her song “Hair” is about her when she was young and constantly was yelled at by her parents to go change her clothes. Her identity was expressed by her hair and clothing.
The song “Government Hooker”, was about Government puppets and fighting for what you believe in. “Born This Way” is described by Gaga as about “you define your beauty for yourself. Be yourself. It is also about social justice, be together and fight for equality. ” Gaga also talks about her song, “Edge of Glory” and says it is about her grandfather and his passing away. It is also about rejoicing life and live for every moment as it is your last and finally honor your creativity. These meanings of her songs and what they represent are only a few examples and now I will go into some of her fashion statements and what they represent.
Lady Gaga has said, as Callahan quotes in her book: “I live and breathe fashion” (11). Lady Gaga is not a normal celebrity who outside the camera is a normal human; Gaga dresses to go to the store as if she was going on stage. Some of Lady Gaga’s friends were invited for dinner at her place and as Callahan describes the arrival of Gaga’s friends, “When Angela and David Clemmy visited Gaga at her new home in L. A. in October 2009, she ushered them into the kitchen, where she was making dinner for Matt Williams; “[…]” “She was in high heels, tight pants, and a black bra” (183).
Most celebrities try to blend in when they are not in the spotlight, but Lady Gaga is the opposite, she loves to shine. She is the spotlight and lives for the dramatic and symbolic expressionism she is well known for. Colin Carman in his article, The Latest in Gaga, expresses his opinion on Lady Gaga. He writes, “it’s her theatrical sense of style—a bustier that shoots fire, lingerie that leaks blood, dresses made of bubbles, even a bejeweled lobster worn as a tiara—that has made Gaga the talk of both the music and fashion worlds” (50). Lady Gaga’a fashion sense nd style make her unique and interesting, yet making one wonder what she will appear in next. She tells her fans to “just be yourself”. Lady Gaga calls her fans “little monsters,” and they call her “mother monster. ” Gaga’s fans are her inspiration and she is theirs. Douglas Wolk, wrote an article in Time Magazine, titled “Monsters Inc. ” Wolk states, “When “Judas” came to them, they were ready. Lady Gaga’s latest music video premiered on May 5, and within hours, her fans […. ] were responding in droves”(58). Wolk talks about internet postings made by fans to social networking sites. Nicolina Asaro, a twenty-year-old accounting student from Staten Island, N. Y. , retro-engineered Gaga’s “Judas” makeup, including her filigreed Egyptian eyeliner design, and posted a tutorial on YouTube. ” This and other examples as I will post are excellent examples of how Gaga inspires her fans. Wolk goes on, “A fifteen-year-old from Finland who goes by the name Minzana uploaded an intricate pencil drawing of Gaga holding her “Judas” lipstick gun, which quickly made the rounds of many Gaga fan sites. Ten-year-old Timmy DeMott shot a video of himself singing “Judas” using his family’s kitchen as a stage and a banana as a microphone.
Lady Gaga linked to DeMott’s video on Twitter (“What a banana cutie! ”). And when Gaga tweets, people pay attention. She has nearly 9. 9 million followers—more than anyone else, including Justin Bieber and President Obama. Her Twitter bio is two words long: ‘mother monster’” (58). Lady Gaga has an unconditional devotion to her music and performances but she has the most devotion to her fans, her “little monsters. ” Gaga fans are inspired by her in many ways, from just being themselves to accepting who they are, from being different or giving fans the reality that being gay is ok.
Wolk states at the end of his essay, “—the sublime absurdity of a stranger in a see-through dress dispensing advice on how to become who you are. ‘You give me so much inspiration,” she(Gaga) told an audience at New York’s Nassau Coliseum a few weeks ago. ‘You liberate me. ’ Gaga’s theater of gratitude is—to be sure—another pose, another wig, another extravagant costume. But coming from her, that means it’s the real thing” (60). Some of Gaga’s fans are gay and Lady Gaga has inspired them in many ways and she is very committed to gay-rights causes.
One might ask, is Lady Gaga gay? Well Gaga does admit to liking and dating both men and women. So I guess this is one reason for her support of LGBT. LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Jeremy Kinser wrote an article in Advocate, titled “Portrait of a Lady”. Kinser writes his insight on Lady Gaga and her association to LGBT. He quotes Gaga, “My love for my gay fans is just pure, authentic love for them as supporters of me from the beginning, and me feeling connected to their struggles as someone who is part of their fight”(28).
Gaga can certainly gain the respect of her gay fans, but also her fans respect her. Gaga has “donated a portion of the proceeds from a re-mix of “Born This Way” to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (Wolk, 59). Lady Gaga wants her fans to accept who they are and to not be afraid to express themselves freely as Gaga does. She represents herself freely and wants not only the gay community to do freely, but all her fans to express themselves through representation of who they are and or want to be. Lady Gaga has struggled throughout her life but became very aware that life is not easy.
She represents what hard work and devotion can produce and wants to share with the world the accomplishments she has made. For a star to be so popular so quick, it is a wonder if there are any colleges offering academic studies on Lady Gaga. Well, actually, there is a college that does offer Gaga classes, The University of South Carolina. Elyse Graham wrote an article in American Scholar, titled “Monster Theory”. Graham discusses academic studies and college courses regarding Lady Gaga. The course at USC is on Lady Gaga and the sociology of fame.
There are also other colleges that Graham mentions, “elsewhere, the pop singer has entered the syllabus in courses on topics as “monster theory” and francophone theater” (12). Graham also talks about Professor Richard Gray of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Graham writes, “Gray”,[…. ] “who is editing a collection of essays on Gaga, says he was first inspired when he saw her perform “Paparazzi” at an awards show. He sketched an essay comparing her performances to the Theatre of Cruelty, put out a call for Gaga papers, and quickly got hundreds of responses” (12).
This is a great way to show the importance of Lady Gaga’s symbolism of her performances, outfits, and her songs and also shows that her hard work is being studied at colleges is quite an honor. Graham also states that, “One popular angle for critics to take on the singer is French visual theory, power through pageantry, appropriate for the YouTube era’s society of the spectacle. Another recurring theme is transgression” (12). Lady Gaga has the world in her hands. The internet and social sites make it possible for Gaga to express herself and influence her fans through not only her performances but also over the World Wide Web.
The web creates a canvas for Lady Gaga to present her art to the world in such an easy and prominent way. Lady Gaga does represent herself expressively in the styles of clothing she wears. Her style of how she wants to represent herself is that she is very free spirited and an emotional performer. Gaga thrives on her performances and inspires her fans. Her devotion to her work has definitely paid off for Lady Gaga. She expresses who she, what she represents, and how she wants to be seen, by not only her clothing and style but also in her songs and what they represent.
Works Cited Callahan, Maureen. Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga. New York: Hyperion, 2010. Print. Carman, Colin. “The Latest in Gaga. ” Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 17. 4 (2010): 50. Web. Gaga, Lady. Lady Gaga-On the Record with Fuse:Judas. with Toure. Fuse. 19 May 2011. Television. Givhan, Robin. “Armani Goes Gaga. ” Newsweek 14 Feb. 2011: 38-41. Web. Goodman, Lizzy. Lady Gaga Critical Mass Fashion. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 2010. Print. Graham, Elyse. “Monster Theroy. ” American Scholar. 80. 4 (2011): 12-13.
Web. Harcourt, Wendy. “Editorial: Lady Gaga Meets Ban Ki-Moon. ” Development 53. 2 (2010): 141-143. Web. Kinser, Jeremy. “Portrait of a Lady. ” Advocate 1051 (2011): 28-35. Web. Lester, Paul. Looking For Fame. The Life of a Pop Princess: Lady Gaga. London, New York, Paris: Omnibus Press, 2010. Print. Van Meter, Jonathan. “Lady Gaga: Our Lady of Pop. ” Vogue Magazine 10 Feb. 2011. Web. Walls, Seth Colter. “The Blah-Blah of Gaga. ” Newsweek 30 November 2009: 57. Web. Wolk, Douglas. “Monsters Inc. ” Time 23 5 2011: 58-60. Web.