Feminist critic and author Camille Paglia had an article over the weekend in the Sunday Times (London) Magazine about Lady Gaga. The Times charges for full access, but they do have a lengthy excerpt up.
Certainly Gaga was ripe for this sort of critique. When someone puts herself — or a persona — out there as much as Gaga does, criticism and discussion is (or should be) the point. And, Gaga is less of an easy target to call out than say Taylor Swift.
I really like a lot of Gaga’s songs for a fun pop danceathon, but I do think she takes herself a little too seriously. The first interview I read with her she talked a lot about how it was all performance art. As Paglia points out:
There is a monumental disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalised artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere.
Where I wish Paglia hadn’t gone was to insult Gaga’s appearance. True, when one’s appearance is a big part of the act, it, too, should be up for critique. But Paglia goes beyond questioning the choices that Gaga makes (“For Gaga, sex is mainly decor and surface; she’s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture”), and insults her directly:
Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is.
Gaga may indeed favor style over substance, but I would hope a leading critic would focus on substance and comment on that — or lack thereof.