If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it.
Today, Lady Gaga’s throne as a reigning pop diva is a 24 carat gold wheelchair, emergency hip surgery forcing the cancellation of her latest tour – a betrayal more devastating for her than for the typical performer, given her relationship with her fans. Her body has finally broken in sacrifice to the needs of her monsters for constant contact and reassurance. The question now is whether this brutal brush with her own mortality will result in the pop goddess pulling back from the edge – or only drive her to new heights of spectacle and influence?
tumult and tragedy, it does us well to consider that it is also a time of wondrous change for the better, a time when prejudices and nonsensical prohibitions burdening humankind for more than a millennium are withering away and being thrown off with astonishing speed. The election of a black president in the United States, the upheaval in Arab countries and the global normalization and shift from mere tolerance to full acceptance of LGBT citizens are all examples of beautiful promise.
why now? Has the average person’s ability to analyze the results of scientific inquiry and the elevation of the democratic model of debate and governance finally reached a tipping point in driving back the forces of backwardness and darkness? Might be. But not likely.
It’s the Internet. Not in the obvious sense of Wikileaks and 24 hour news cycles that incorporate Tweets and Instagrams directly from the core of the action; but because the Internet doesn’t forget anything and continues as a force of memory, inspiration and, more importantly aspiration. The vast storehouse of the Web puts people in constant touch with the iconic pop idols and imagery of their pre-cynical selves so it remains fresh in front of mind. They are not permitted to forget what they learned from rock and roll and what they learned from pop art.
The real agents of change today may be the pop culture people fell in love with early on influencing their lifestyles, along with attitudes and thought processes for decades later. The iconic images and music of John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix for one generation held forever in the their hearts and minds may have more to do with how they vote (or take to the streets) than the actual arguments of any political parties or charismatic agitators. Amazing to think that John Lennon wrote a song called "Imagine" with lyrics that are considered as dangerous today as the day it was first released. Those early cultural influences that come off as anti-social are preserved and shot back through the Internet re-igniting the taste for making it real.
Perhaps this is why so much energy is expended by the establishment in mocking and dismissing pop heroes intellectually even as they rake in the profits they make from those stars. They want kids and punks to buy the product – but to forget the message of peace and love (or anarchy and death) being indelibly tattooed in the corners of their consciousness.
The new permanence of what was considered fluff and stuff gives new relevance and immediacy to the current trendsetters and voices of this generation. It may seem to go by fast but in fact it stays around a lot longer. If you don’t delete your deviation on deviantART, it will be there, in practical terms, always.
Over the past five years Lady Gaga’s core message radiating out across the universe and energizing her devotees is a radical redefinition of beauty, self-esteem, and aesthetic artistry delivered in a truly unique environment that she masterfully constructs and controls. This unique-in-our times environment can only be described as a full acceptance without comparison to an “other.” A social construct of true equivalency, no one better, no one less, than the next in line. "So the last will be first and the first shall be last." In times of stupendously mind-numbing waves of predictability washing over all of us from within every pop medium imaginable and with the public at large being drowned in self-esteem killing marketing pitches, that can only be described as predatory at best, Lady Gaga has built a safe place to be precisely, exactly, who you are.
There is a real distinction in her humanity, in her tribalism with no messaging; an essential calibration of a sweeping inclusionary message of love with daring invitations to dream big in her lyrics. The first half of her equation we have all heard before. You can be anything you want to be. The Gaga twist is that Lady Gaga is asking you to believe that this statement is absolutely true despite the particular cards you were dealt from the great, unforgiving, deck in the sky – all without the self-beautification tools the system demands you purchase. This is no mere minor modification.
Art communicates through emotion, not through rational understanding. This is where art gets its power to reach the whole world. We are all connected through emotion.
Make no mistake, no matter how much money, power, adulation or success Lady Gaga has amassed over the last few years, she still must endure the war on women that her fans endure along with all of the disdain reserved for an artistic outlier. Her weight, her looks, her sexuality and her skills in self-promotion have all been twisted into weapons used against her – to mock her influence and try to put her “in her place” and out of the “serious” pop narrative.
My Religion Is You.
But The Lady Gaga experience goes beyond her recordings, her videos, her performances and outrageous personal appearances. She makes a genuine effort to practically apply the message of unity in the monster community she promotes in her art. She provides counselors and self-esteem building experts at her shows for her fans free of charge. If you were down, feeling depressed, being bullied, or just needed a question answered about life there is an opportunity for comfort offered for everyone that comes to her show, anonymously.
When Lady Gaga came to London last year I cried as she sang Bad Kids. She told how when she wrote Born This Way her producers told her she was marketing to a niche audience and how it might not be wise to do so. Then she spread her arms and said: "This stadium seems like a pretty big fucking niche!", and that's how it felt.
To be aware that thousands of people around you felt every bit the outcast you did, made you feel normal again. Made you feel empowered and creative instead of like you were missing something that made you average.
It made you feel special, and as an artist - it feels pretty good to feel special instead of lacking.
In the last couple years I have fallen out of interest with her work since it lost a lot of its bubblepop charm and turned more to shock value for relevance.
I learned from Gaga to stay true to your artistic vision and what makes you unique and appeal to your fans. Changing constantly is a gamble, and trying to become someone you aren't to become relevant to a new audience is sure to make you look like a tool.
I also learned the very transient nature of fame, and the importance of protecting your work from theft. I was very excited when she retweeted my fanart, but then it was stolen and reprinted many times, even tattooed on multiple people without my permission. This is an issue that affects a lot of people on deviantART.
The Born This Way Foundation that she built with her mom as a co-founder is powered by a phenomenal mission statement and unmistakable passion for moving humans from fear to bravery, from self doubt to self worth. This work goes on whether or not there is a tour happening or new songs are being released. Instead of just simply joining some fancy-flashy people in St. Barth's on vacation until the next marketing push rolls around; the promise of real help and real answers continues long after the show is over through this foundation and it's outreach activities.
There are very distinct connections between being a Monster and a deviant. A direct connection is that deviants "deviate from the norm", which equally (but partially) defines what Lady Gaga and her fan base represents. DeviantART is also the home to many fans of Lady Gaga, one of the many things that keeps us here is the continuous production of Lady Gaga inspired artworks. These inspired artworks allow the fans to view their idol in endless ways.
The title to her next collection of songs and media that is to be released sometime in 2013 will be
Lady Gaga will continue to manipulate the psychic vanguard of pop art, willing it to fit the needs of her music and her philosophy of a new sensibility amongst the masses. She covers her tour bus and green rooms with fan art. Her entire presentation leans on visual references drawn from rich resources of collaboration with true artists at all tiers. Lady Gaga’s vision would redefine beauty in all of it’s forms and contexts and as it’s defined by community for a new age. Her inclusiveness emulates the process we see everyday on deviantART where artists of every medium and stage collaborate and support each other openly and graciously.
Can Lady Gaga stage this at a new level uniting the world’s artists into a new power of influence? Lady Gaga has become a warrior for the replacement of the mathematical algorithms deciding “beauty” with, instead, the sincerity of intent between humans yearning to love free. Sincerity of intent is what her relationship with her “monsters” is all about. Lady Gaga can tap a new sincerity for beauty.
The Gaga Difference: The militancy of her demand for self-identification and self-expression. We live in a time when the masses, particularly those who are still young, are demanding the reality of democracy, equality and personhood in nation after nation. No more promises, no more rain-checks. In Christ-like fashion (employing much Italian Catholic faux-operatic and religious iconography) Lady Gaga has sacrificed herself as the model upon which her church has been built – a safe environment for all her “monsters” to gather and celebrate their otherness and oneness.
Lady Gaga is not just the context or agent for change. She and her monsters and all of their art may come to represent the change itself.
All this points to a real evolution in the relationship of entertainers, artists, writers and fandom. Gaga is NOT just the next exaggeration of pop excess and canned rebellion. The Beats, the Hippies, the civil rights workers, the early feminists and other social revolutionaries of the 1960’s and 1970’s in politics, culture, art and music left much behind and they are reminded of this all the more by the echoes from the vast storehouse of the Internet. As much as they lay claim to in terms of influence, many social taboos remained going forward including our modern struggle for LGBT rights and the increasing unfair separation of the “haves” and the “have nots.”
Lady Gaga posted a video on YouTube calling her state Representative to show her support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Soon after, Little Monsters began posting videos of themselves calling their Representatives. The law was repealed. Lady Gaga and her fans are a tremendous force together.
Under everything, Is Just Another Human Being.
“Just breathe” - Eddie Vedder
Once there was a mutant named Jean Grey. She died in defending a fellow mutant, only to be resurrected by the Phoenix Force – the ultimate power for good in the Universe.
From a very young age, she was recruited into a team to help defend mutant-kind against those who would do away with those who were considered strange and different. As she grew, so did her powers, and so did the threats against her. Jean was soon recognized as one of the most powerful and important mutants in the world, and many attempts were made to harness both her powers and her genetic material. Mr Sinister, a brilliant, twisted scientist and a mutant in his own right, was determined to use Jean to create the future of mutant kind.
Jean had incredible powers, but she was only human. Like so many other mutants, she lost her life in defense of mutant rights and, ultimately, the greater good of the world. Family, friends and teammates mourned her loss, but death was not the final chapter for Jean Grey.
She had been chosen by an ancient force, the Phoenix Force, to rise again and serve as a protector of not just mutant kind, but all intelligent life in the cosmos.
The seeds of sincerity, non-cynicism and self-sacrifice that Gaga is sowing in youthful hearts may one day bloom in a love and respectful revolution with great impact. She is our Phoenix Force.
“ARTPOP” may be her “Sgt Pepper’s” and deviantART will cheer her rise from the ashes with a further avalanche of fan art and fan fiction exploding her message into the history of the Internet. As far as the distinction between messengers and messages are concerned, we are all flawed, all of us hopefully living our lives in a way that benefits humanity while still serving the selfish mission of making this journey on the EarthSphere as bearable as possible. I like people who endeavor to rise above their flaws for as long as they can each day. It’s not easy to be here.
In no way is this a May Crowning for Lady Gaga. We are not holding the pop culture achievement ceremonies or the sentimental artist awards here on deviantART. We are showcasing an incredible gallery of fanart and acknowledging Lady Gaga in the construction of a fellow community in a convergence of art, beauty, and aesthetic redefinition of a generation's self-esteem-battered constituents.
Is Lady Gaga in the pantheon of pop stars whose message is greater than the effervescence of pop?
Do you think the “establishment” consciously tries to degrade and devalue the significance of artists, i.e. attempting to portray them as eccentric, non-serious, possibly put-ons and phoneys?
If you are an artist, have you experienced attempts to paint you as a “non-serious” person – and certainly not one whose ideas on politics, economics, etc., could possibly be taken seriously?
Do you think you are the person you are today partially because of the singers and songs and artists and comics you love?
Do you think the Internet, twitter, etc., revolution is accelerating change around the globe as much because of the dissemination of the arts as the dissemination of political information? Are they equally necessary calls to human freedom?