I told my dad to shut up tonight. This is not something I do often. This is not something I want to do often. But I think it was warranted, at least for a moment. Why don’t I tell you what happened, and you can decide? (As if you have a choice…)
We were watching a recap of the Oscars on the nightly news when Lady Gaga’s performance of the Sound of Music came on. In her flowing white gown and her equally white hair, she belted out the songs formally made famous by Julie Andrews and countless others. No one could deny that she did the Sound of Music franchise justice (after Carrie Underwood almost buried it completely).
Then, after her last note rang out, my father said the following: “If only she didn’t have a trumpet tattooed on her arm…”
And so, I said the offending remark because I am sick of people judging others for what they choose to do with their lives and their bodies. But then I thought about it. And I realized that my dad had only said what so many people had written in articles all over the Internet about the performance (so, sorry, Dad).
Everyone could not stop talking about how great she looked. But what they were really saying was how normal she looked.
You see, everyone liked Lady Gaga’s performance last night because everyone understood it. Because for once in her career, she wasn’t wrapped in meat, she didn’t have a mask on, she didn’t look strange. She looked like us, and she sang like she was “supposed” to sing. And everyone was shocked at how good she was! And yet Lady Gaga fans were saying, “uh, duh? Where have you been since ‘Poker Face’? She is tremendously talented! Not everyone has to sing opera to be considered a good singer!”
Now, as a Lady Gaga fan, I understand this reaction from the world, to a point. I definitely fell off the bandwagon when ArtPop came out. It was too politically charged with far too much symbolism (I know, coming from an English major that’s a bold claim.) After her latest album, I felt that she was trying way too hard, drawing inspiration from her fans instead of from the wonderful person she is, creating a vacuum where we drew on her and she drew on us.
Of course, I think we can all understand where Lady Gaga is coming from with her past appearances, even if we wouldn’t also wear shoulder pads that are the size of our own head. At one of her concerts, she talked extensively about how she was bullied as a kid. And you don’t need a psych degree to know that most of those costumes are her armor. She also said that she was told that she was too “broadway for pop, and too pop for broadway,” and so it is obvious that Lady Gaga has spent a lot of her time trying to fit in somewhere.
But along the way, has she lost herself?
We see it time and time again. Sometimes, the “persona” in Hollywood is really a shtick. Sometimes, when celebs get to be famous enough, they shake off the excess and turn into what the rest of the world wants them to be because they’ve made it, and they don’t need to draw attention to themselves anymore. And sometimes, that’s okay. I get it, anyway you can make it, you should. But I thought that Gaga’s creativity was a part of her, and not a complete front.
I don’t think the Internet is right to applaud for her not looking “crazy.” It sends the message that she shouldn’t be who she is because if she isn’t that person, more people can appreciate her talent. If she was more mainstream, she could make a real “comeback.” If she did what we expected her to do, she would be more successful.
In the end, I don’t care how Lady Gaga dresses. I don’t care how well Lady Gaga sings. I just hope that she stays true to herself because so few free spirits do, especially under the glaring eye of the media.
So, Lady Gaga, if that was just a quick dip into the normal gene pool, then I hope you don’t listen to anyone about how much “better” you look. I hope you continue to be yourself. And, if this is who you have been all along, then, welcome to the rest of the world. You will truly be at home here.