September 12, 2010

Isn't Camille Paglia afraid of sounding geezerly?

Even as she led the way in Madonna appreciation, Paglia was behind the curve in lavishing attention on Lady Gaga. What to do? Go negative:
Gaga's fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina…
Negative about Gaga and modern life in general. These kids today. Get off my lawn.


Anonymous said...

These kids today (epitomized by GaGa) are vapid nothingsomethings.

They walk on the sidewalk.

They're too unimaginative and boring to actually, you know, trespass.

Paligia is right to be unimpressed.

Anonymous said...

I could never think of a reason to be interested in Madonna. I don't regret avoiding listening to her. In fact, my only regret is that at times I've been forced to listen to her.

I'm interested in music. That has nothing to do with Madonna. She's all fashion, hipsterism, advertising... all that worthless bullshit.

I'd rather go out to listen to five old guys who never move on stage.

Lady Gaga seems like more of the same. A total waste of time.

Music, to me, is part of our religious experience. It's no accident our great music... folk, country, blues and jazz... all emerged from church music.

I want something more out of music than a fashion show and childish sexual theatrics.

If that makes me an old fogey, so be it.

I didn't care that much for kid music when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I played in bands with guys 30 to 40 years older than me. They knew how to play.

Peter V. Bella said...

Paglia is right- across the board.

HT said...

I don't know .. her critique sounds about right.

I just watched Gran Torino (GREAT! - thanks to the person who recommended it here). He was always telling people to go away (get off my lawn).

sakredkow said...

Lady Gaga vs. the Immaterial Girl. Yup, we're being dumbed down.

traditionalguy said...

GaGa says it all. The young folks are ridiculing the attitudes of older humans before life came under computer control.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When a society degenerates, the geezers really do remember the good ol' days.

It's only the lazy-man's reliance on 'evolution' that presupposes that things can only evolve. There also is the second law of thermodynamics (a point which, I guess, only geezers point out.)

Lincolntf said...

Paglia is in no way being contradictory with her treatment of Madonna v. Gaga. The qualities she liked about Madonna are glaringly absent from Gaga's repertoire. The only thing the two have in common is taste in costume designers.

As to the danger of a geezerly tone, that's the fate of much of Paglia's generation (though I hope she'll avoid it). Watching 50- and 60-somethings go from demanding that "everything goes" during their younger years to slapping "zero tolerance" policies on every subsequent generation has been an education in how self-interest can always be cast as a virtue if enough people are in on the game.

lucid said...

Lady Gaga seems soooo plastic and so beside the point. There is absolutely nothing interesting about her sexually.

HT said...

Lincoln, I think the danger of geezerly thinking can also be a side effect of just growing old. I'm not yet approaching geezerhood, I don't think, but I appreciate the exhortations of those who have. It's made me question more, pay more attention to precise thinking, and research more. It's a good thing, on balance.

Fred4Pres said...

Okay, there is only one way to fix this. Camille Paglia should go on Glee and be the mother of the cheer leading coach and Lady Gaga should guest star (Glee already did a Gaga themed show, so this would be Gaga Deja Vu).

Win Win.

Actually, I thought Paglia was spot on in her criticism of Gaga (although I like a couple of Gaga's songs). Although, while Madonna had her moments, she is not the great "artist" Camile thinks she is.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, as my late 20s kids quickly pointed out when I read them Pagilia's piece, Paglia is merely morning the end of her once avant-garde "ga-ga" movement, the sexual revolution.

Cedarford said...

Lady Gaga is a unique one. While she hasn't gotten close to the depth of Madonna's body of work or shown she can reinvent herself and stay important as Madonna did 5-6 times, Gaga is a far better singer and creative songwriter than Madonna ever dreamed of. Stefani Gemotta went to the Tisch School of Performing Arts and established herself as one of the most gifted of the gifted.
This young woman has given a different sound and sung of things in a way that no one else did. Her creativity is intensely admired in the entertainment industry.
Gaga has gone sleaze, lowest common denominator devalue in on the many ways, but that was something that Madonna was all about in her...3rd incarnation?

The interesting thing about Gaga is if she has staying power like Madonna did or will be a spent creative force in another 3 years.
Or disappear for 5 years and come back strong on her singing voice, as Sade does.

As things stand, Lady Gaga has songs people want to hear and delivers an awesome concert heavy on style and flash. It's what consumers and people in the entertainment industry expect these days. Even country has thrown in some sex appeal and razzle-dazzle.

Salt Lick said...

IMHO, the simultaneous rise of Lady Gaga and Barack Obama is not a coincidence. Both were carefully packaged products aimed at arousing certain emotions. It's intriguing that Paglia has turned on both.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't Camille Paglia afraid of sounding geezerly?"

Is there something wrong with sounding geezerly? All my life I've been honing those skills and waiting for the day when I've got my cane or umbrella to wield, and the whole damned planet will be my bloody lawn!

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Something I've noticed about the Boomer generation- They keep mistaking their own decline for that of the world.

Life will go on. The glaciers won't melt and drown us all, there won't be a nuclear war, and people will keep making bad pop music. I believe that much of the gloom and doom that's been infesting the culture for the last 10-15 years is simply Boomers getting old.

At least in a few years we won't have to hear about the 60s and Vietnam all the time.

Lincolntf said...

Salt Lick,

During the campaign I thought that Obama was the Britney Spears of politics. Apart from the theatrical aspects of each, there was the almost subliminal cultural phenomena of "with a face on every magazine in the rack, she/he MUST be good!".

Maybe he's more GaGa, I'll have to think about the parallels a little more.

Muggins said...

Each generation has it's source of lousy pop music. It's inevitable. Some people grow out of it, some stay stuck. Critiques in media is a good thing. But when commenting on the arts with friends and family, I've found it wiser to say something positive, or nothing at all. It's a wisdom born of too many hard lessons.

Lincolntf said...

"I believe that much of the gloom and doom that's been infesting the culture for the last 10-15 years is simply Boomers getting old."

Very true. I even see it in a few people in my own extended family. It's kinda like "the need to be needed" X 10 because their own mortality is never far from their minds.
(Neither is mine, I just still try to hide it.)

Paul Kirchner said...

Much ado about nothing from Camille Paglia once again. I never understood why she remained so wrought up about Madonna years after that celebrity had ceased to be much of a presence in the culture.

Paglia is now 63, and that's too old to expect younger people to care what she thinks of pop culture. Reading her gush about her girl-crushes (Kate Winslet, some Brazilian pop star, etc.) gets to be a bore and borderline creepy.

bagoh20 said...

The great accomplishment of the boomers is that they managed to dress up "the man" like Ziggy Stardust, and thus camouflage him from the youth of today. A truly rebellious youth culture today would look something like the founding fathers, again. But we get a "rebellious" music culture today that only pokes the fundamentally religious in the eye, while boring the rest of us with their lock step agreement with today's version of "the man" (Nancy Pelosi).

We feminized our culture and that has robbed both men and women of the masculine tendency to break things. It's a sad development. C'mon young people, stop following and build your new world, but remember new means different, not just irritating to old people.

Caroline said...

In a recent conversation with my 20-something nephew regarding music, he made the point that his is the ironic generation. They can't take anything too seriously.

We were watching VH1, which was showing some old music videos and concert footage from the 70s and 80s. I jokingly asked if his generation had any music that was made for getting high to. And he responded, "only in an ironic way. Like Miley Cyrus music."

I think the kids will be alright. Maybe Gaga is a joke that Paglia is too old to get.

ricpic said...

All that Paglia has done is report correctly that Lady Gaga projects asexuality. Why asexuality sells with the "kids" is another question. I guess there's a lack of the old giggity giggity out there.

chickelit said...

Get off my lawn.

OT but I think people would be really interested in seeing before and after pictures of the Meadehouse lawn and gardens. I mean the changes since Meade's arrival.

Unknown said...

Do hope she's not fearful because she's gone full geezer. Being born at the end of the B generation I've had to endure such fatuous flatulence as long as I can remember, and the output is only increasing. At least when they were young and stoned they had an excuse.

Bryan Townsend said...

I once had a friend that thought that music has been in decline since 1733--the death of Francois Couperin le grand. The kind of pop music that exists now probably had its high point with the Beatles and has fallen into steep decline with the ubiquitous use of drum machines and the total disappearance of anything resembling harmonic interest. I don't feel qualified to comment too much on the spectacle aspects, which is what Paglia and so many others focus on, but I can comment on the music. I never heard anything musically interesting from Madonna, but there are a couple of songs by Lady Gaga that are quite interesting. Bad Romance is a pretty good pop song. Notice the baroque references in the speeded up electric harpsichord intro and extro. Also, the expressive flat 6 to 5 melody in the refrain. There are also some actual harmonic sequences. Not a bad pop song. But in general, pop music these days is a horrific wasteland musically, glossed over with hyperkinetic videos and sexual display. I can rarely listen to more than a minute or so without being terminally bored. Of course, to notice this you have to just listen without watching the videos. Now go back and listen to some Beatles. Even earlier stuff like the songs on A Hard Day's Night. Each song a wonderfully creative construction, unique in itself. And when you get to Strawberry Fields, well, that is just a masterpiece...

Unknown said...

Everybody in the world knows who is Lady Gaga. I did not know who is Camille who? Until yesterday

Anonymous said...

It is axiomatic that lavishing attention on Lady Gaga is what one ought to do.

jungatheart said...

"Something I've noticed about the Boomer generation- They keep mistaking their own decline for that of the world."


I'd heard of her, but told my daughter I didn't know who she was, so she showed me this video:

She reminds me of Cher and Madonna.

Anonymous said...

"Everybody in the world knows who is Lady Gaga. I did not know who is Camille who? Until yesterday ..."

Proof positive that the GaGa generation is a bunch of fucking airheads.

Julie C said...

I've often thought Paglia's worship of Madonna was a bit much - I felt a little embarrassed for Paglia, frankly.

Madonna was interesting early on, but with the fake British accent and the airs she puts on nowadays I find her tiresome.

Gaga, I like. Catchy songs, fantastic music videos, great voice, cool fashions.

jungatheart said...

"Everybody in the world knows who is Lady Gaga. I did not know who is Camille who? Until yesterday ..."

"Proof positive that the GaGa generation is a bunch of fucking airheads."

Fellow Paglia fan?

Anonymous said...

Althouse seems today to be presenting a multi-faceted argument for why it was a mistake to give women the franchise.

The very existence of Madonna and GaGa presents a powerful argument that women should never have been allowed to vote.

Add in the lunatic Manson Family hopeful who wants the human race to go extinct, and you've got a overwhelming argument that women should never go outside the home.

The status of women in the Muslim world is horrifying in its extremity. The status of women in the West is becoming equally horrifying in its extremity.

While I don't agree with the Jihadis, and I hope they are defeated, I can understand how they are horrified by the behavior of western women.

Ralph L said...

and the whole damned planet will be my bloody lawn!
Did you follow the last link in the post? Euww!

I like this version of Telephone.

michael farris said...

"All that Paglia has done is report correctly that Lady Gaga projects asexuality. Why asexuality sells with the "kids" is another question."

Not just asexuality, but _dirty_ asexuality, the asexuality that comes from ... what? It reminds me of an article I once read written by a former male prostitute. He wrote more or less that he lost a lot of both sexual choosiness (sex with ugly people wasn't different from sex with attractive ones) and sexual desire (or rather desires that can be fulfilled by sex).

I think that for kids today it isn't so much 'fake is the new real' but 'simulated is the new experienced'.

For the record I like two Gaga videos, Paparazzi and Bad Romance but would never consider listening to her.

Paglia is getting up there and her particular hobby horses can grate (Madonna Hillary Winslet Mercury) but she still does invective pretty well. How many writers can shred a public figure in such a readable fashion?

Lawler Walken said...

The only thing more amusing than a geezer acting like a geezer is a geezer (or almost geezer) who tries to act like they're staying hip, young and current.

We old fogeys, we're not supposed to get Lady GaGa, that's supposed to be part of her appeal to her generation, that their parents and grandparents just don't get it. Let's not deprive them of that delusion. It's key to making them feel young and vital and alive while we listen to our classic rock and moan about how today's music is just no good.

BJM said...


Watching 50- and 60-somethings go from demanding that "everything goes" during their younger years to slapping "zero tolerance" policies on every subsequent generation has been an education in how self-interest can always be cast as a virtue if enough people are in on the game.


I've watched in amazement as liberal friends moved seamlessly from the FSM to the PC nanny state.

btw-Shannon Love has an excellent post in a similar vein today.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BJM said...


Ah...a kindred spirit.

Aurelian said...

The real question is that is gaga an android. She seems that pre programmed.

D. B. Light said...

I hope Camille is right in her assertion that Gaga represents the end of the sexual revolution and the sexualization of everything in American culture. That will be a very positive development.

bagoh20 said...

I can't tell if public sexual display bores me because I've gotten old, or because it's gotten old. Or is that the same thing? It's still hot in private though, so I know I'm not dead yet.

sonicfrog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sonicfrog said...

I also blogged a response.

I recently had a conversation on Facebook lamenting how annoyingly unoriginal Gaga is. From all accounts, Stefani Germanotta is a very talented woman. But who can tell; whatever gifts she has is layered in the lacquer of commercialism. She’s like a Picaso that’s painted over a thousand times by Thomas Kinkade, and who knows if the signature at the bottom of the painting is even real or not. We used to think that losing ones identity was the price of fame. Now it’s a ticket to it.

Humperdink said...

Lawler Walken said...
"The only thing more amusing than a geezer acting like a geezer is a geezer (or almost geezer) who tries to act like they're staying hip, young and current."

That's the conundrum for those of us who have recently entered geezerdom (I'm 59). Try to act hip or accept our geezernous and hobble off into the to the personal care facility?

Having just wrecked my 1968 Triumph motorcycle on Labor Day - road rash head to toe - I am rethinking my desire to remain "hip". It's getting painful.

Binah said...

Paglia is becoming a little creepy. I've enjoyed reading her stuff over the years, but I never understood her obsession with Madonna, whose limited musical talent is evident. Madonna's real genius was seizing control of her marketing and image-making so she could recreate herself every few years -- you know, before people could figure out that she has pretty limited talents. Lady Gaga is the logical consequence of Madonna, both talentless and witless.

I always found it annoying that the great female rockers of the punk/new wave era were eclipsed by Madonna's celebrity machine and never got the full recognition they deserved. After all, the 80s were the golden age of "grrl power" in pop culture: Blondie (the pre-80s prototype of everything 80s), Cyndi Lauper, the Go-Gos, the Bangles, the Pretenders, Suzanne Vega, and so on. Not that there weren't worthy predecessors, like Bonnie Raitt or the Wilson sisters, who also took a while to get recognized in the macho world of rock.

Did you know that Blondie did the first mainstream rap song (Rapture)? Mainstream means, done by a white band in a way that didn't frighten the wits out of white audiences. (This was in 1980.) And compare Hanging on the Telephone to Lady Gaga's recent effort about not being able to hear her boyfriend on her cell -- pathetic.

bagoh20 said...

I don't care for Gaga, but I prefer Kinkade to Picaso. I would say Gaga is more like Picaso. Both something you have to "get", or have explained to you. Visual arts shouldn't have too much of that. You never know if the explanation is just a cigar.

Rialby said...

I would argue that she's ripping off Bowie as well. He did androgyny AND wrote brilliant music AND played an instrument 40 years before Gaga.

Alex said...

You know I'm really sick and tired of the Boomer's Beatles worship. There were a lot of great bands that followed in the 1970s like Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin. Then there was the New Wave. One can argue that pop music reached it's zenith in the middle 1980s with bands like Tears for Fears("Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "Shout").

Alex said...

Lady Gaga is the logical consequence of Madonna, both talentless and witless.

Nonsense. When Gaga stops clowning around and just plays the piano, it's great:

[HD] Lady GaGa - Paparazzi Acoustic Version

jr565 said...

In addition to stealing from Bowie and Madonna it also appears she's stealing from Elton John with that ludicrious pirate hat;

Alex said...

Yeah but did she steal Elton's piano skills too? Face it - she's a very talented musical performer. Haters will hate!

bagoh20 said...

All the outrageous cavemen who maybe wore their loin cloth around their neck, or a shirt of poison oak to get famous, have been lost due to the shortcomings of PRE-history.

Now with everything recorded there is no escaping the charge of being derivative. We are all used up.

"Deep dark depression, excessive misery; doom, despair and agony on me."

jamboree said...

I think it's a direct result of her Madonna worship. She can criticize Madonna (in an effort to improve her no doubt), but no one else can.

Gaga is far more inherently freakish than Madonna due to her non-glamour face. This makes her late-60s, mid-70s retro in a sense. Camille is sympathetic to the marginal impulse of that era when it comes to herself, so you'd think she'd be more open to if not Gaga, her Little Monsters.

Alex said...

jamboree - it's simply a matter of Paglia being 63 and crotchety. Get off my lawn indeed.

bagoh20 said...

"One can argue that pop music reached it's zenith in the middle 1980s with bands like Tears for Fears("Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "Shout")."

Not remotely close. The Beatles despite being decades older are still more popular among all age groups than anything in the 80's - Especially Tears for Fears (who I like). It will remain that way. What could be a better measure of Pop excellence than longevity? And the body of work of the Beatles is more expansive than the entire 80's artistry combined. IMHO.

BJM said...


Having just wrecked my 1968 Triumph motorcycle on Labor Day - road rash head to toe - I am rethinking my desire to remain "hip". It's getting painful., I feel for you having experienced road rash in a small way years's a bitch.

The spousal unit is five years older than you and last year he had to lay his Duece down when a car suddenly turned in front of him at an intersection. Fortunately he wasn't hurt beyond some wicked ugly bruising.

However the restored bike hasn't seen much milage since. We're both thinking it's time give up riding.

Alex said...

I'm sensing a lot of aging Boomers in this thread. Ya'll probably want us youngins to "get off yer lawn".

Humperdink said...

BJM.....A large black lab tried to occupy the same space as the front tire, at about 30MPH on a gravel road.

traditionalguy said...

The GaGa generation has no hope that anything will be real and last long enough for them to be a fool and sacrifice themselves for it. They have become cynics living off the declining wealth of a great empire created by the sacrifices made by Traditionalists and the Good Boomers ( meaning Good in the sense that they passed on the Drug culture's seductions).

J Lee said...

I do notice that Lady G has backed off her appearances a bit from late spring or so, which is probably a good thing, since she was starting to come across as one of those "any publicity is good publicity" in the vein of no-talent media stars like Paris Hilton or the Kardashian clan, thanks to her antics at the Mets and Yankees games at Citi Field and the Stadium, especially the former, with her eventual decamping to Jerry Seinfeld's luxury box, without Mr. Seinfeld's knowledge or permission (30,000 people are there to watch the game; not you. If you want to be known for your music fine, but if you want to be remembered more for your performance art even in places where people paid to see something else, then you're starting to turn into Borat singing the National Anthem at a rodeo).

Kirby Olson said...

If I were a woman, I'd go Muslim and wear a burqua rather than have to do these pyrotechnical push-pull dances of either Madonna or Gaga.

Burqua might be a prison, but at least you don't have to constantly be on display, or acting like a trashy idiot.

Paglia does offer us two extremely batty women as the false dichotomy from which women must choose.

What other models are there? the wife in Everybody Loves Raymond?

The wife in the George Lopez Show?

In rock, the stars are supposed to be sexually available, and not married, but maybe it's time to have women rock stars who are married and thus don't have to push their pelvis at everyone to make a buck.

Surely there's other options.

There are lots of single MORAL women available on the police shows now.

At least they're attempting to help with moral reform, rather than simply overstimulating the libido of young people who definitely don't need that.

Women ni the west can be doctors, scientists, lawyers...

They don't have to be Madonna or Gaga.

If I did have that choice, I'd beeline to Yemen and get myself a burqua.

Joe said...

I was fairly oblivious to the entire Lady Gaga thing. My son even bought her album. I gave some songs a listen. Didn't care for it.

Just the other day, I saw a photograph of a woman and though, "my God she's ugly." I wondered who it was, clicked on a link and found that it was Lady Gaga.

HT said...


I don't think the young people have enough seasoning in them to be cynics. And wouldn't it be nice if only the good created wealth? Alas, it's not so.

Otherwise, I agree with you: the young are living off the wealth of those who came before.

BJM said...

Gravel, why does it always have to be gravel? To my eternal humiliation, I wiped out in our gravel drive years ago. Not fun.

However, it could have been much worse, if that's any consolation.

My first bike was a '66 Bonneville T120..the'68 is a sweet ride. Are you going to rebuild?

Humperdink said...

BJM I am planning to rebuild. Left side of bike is scraped clean of all chrome.

X- ray tech asked me what those two large pieces of metal were in my ankle....they turned out to be two large pieces of gravel.

holdfast said...

Just Lurking:

They claim that they are all ironic and cynical and what not, but in the end a lot of them became Obama Zombies. They're not really cynical - they just have short attention spans, are really bored and are pretty ignorant of history. So they lap up Dem talking points from Jon Stewart and pretend that they are cool and sophisticated. Frankly it's pathetic.

Lynne said...

Madonna has one of the ugliest voices I have ever heard. Everything she does is one big nasal shriek.

I lost all interest in pop music at about the same time she took over the whole scene, and I frankly don't miss it one bit.

These days everything is so massively overproduced you can't even hear who's singing.

I wouldn't know Lady Gaga if she belted out The Star Spangled Banner in my back yard.

Is 47 too young to be a geezer?

BJM said...


Otherwise, I agree with you: the young are living off the wealth of those who came before.

That in itself is not unusual, each generation in turn builds on the success (or failures) of the last. However that the young are now mainly debt-laden consumers, doesn't bode well for them after the Boomer and Gen-Xer money train leaves the station.

Anonymous said...

What Althouse said is exactly what I thought when I saw Paglia's rant.

Bubble gum pop music today just doesn't have the same depth and meaning today. That's her thesis.

LoafingOaf said...

Althouse has been trying hard to get the kind of Drudge Report coverage that that geezer is enjoying all weekend long. Is she jealous?

Humperdink said...

BJM '66 Bonneville is on the top of my all-time bike list. My '68 is a TR6.

Famous Triumph bike scenes:
Steve McQueen - The Great Escape
Marlon Brando - The Wild One
Evil Knievel - Caesar's Palace Crash

BJM said...


That's gonna leave a mark.

Humperdink said...

@BJM You are correct...just another "life" wound.

Anonymous said...

Loaf -- Don't be an idiot. Like everyone else, Althouse reads Drudge and uses it as a place to start from.

Althouse doesn't aspire to be Drudge. CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Politico do.


Roman said...

Being well into my Geezer-hood, "Lady Gaga", is no lady, and I'm nowhere close to being "gaga" over her.

chickelit said...

Don't own any Madonna or Gaga or any other blonde totem symbols.

What am I missing?

The Crack Emcee said...

She was wrong on Madonna and she doesn't get Gaga and good current female American music might as well be on another planet entirely, but I still like Camille.

She's feisty.

Kirby Olson said...

They can both belt hits. But as a schtick from which women are supposed to choose, I think they are both bad choices. Very bad choices! They are like nightmares.

Paglia is wrong to think either one has any kind of political agency that anyone would want to follow up on. Far better to model oneself after the wife in Everybody Loves Raymond.

You can't be Lady Gaga all day and night. No one would put up with it. But the wife in Everybody Loves Raymond has more longevity. I could put up with her pretty well, or with the wife in the George Lopez show.

Gaga and Madonna are good for about three minutes of drooling.

Paglia needs a brain transplant from Hannah Arendt.

chickelit said...

According to my wife, Lady Gaga has a "rocking bod". I've seen photos of Madonna and prefer not to even look at her. Should I google Gaga or is she just a younger version?

James said...

As usual, Cracked has it right:

Why it's Time to Stop Paying Attention to Lady Gaga.

Bullet points (with explanation at the link):

-"She's Not Some Free-Spirited Performance Artist"

-"She's Not a Fashion Icon"

-"She's Not Original"

And that's without talking about how awful the music is. Just terrible

holdfast said...


Ok Madonna's older now and doing the "ropey muscles" thing (see for instance Sarah Jessica Parker), but she was hot back in the day. Gaga has lost of a lot of weight to be "current" and it shows in her deflated boobs and androgynous hips. Also, her face isn't even really cute, let alone pretty or beautiful.

chickelit said...

and it shows in her deflated boobs and androgynous hips.

eew- deflated boobs to go with our deflationary times.

How depressing.

chardin said...

Pretending that aesthetics are an absolute is bad enough. Pretending that they are a 1:1 mapping on moral worth cheapens both aesthetics and moral worth.

Ann Althouse said...

@Crack Thanks. That was very enjoyable!

James said...

A little quote from my link, under the "She's Not Original" bulletpoint:

"Lady Gaga's originality seems to be her only selling point among even people who hate everything about her. They look at her and say, "Well, at least there's no one else out there just like her," like a parent struggling to find a compliment for their least favorite child. Whenever some entertainment news show covers her, they invariably say something along the lines of: "Love her or hate her, you have to admit that she's a totally unique icon! Coming up after the break, we check in with superstar Lou Bega! Here's hoping he gives us a high (mambo number) five!"

But, of course, she isn't unique in any way. She is exactly one part Madonna and one part Marilyn Manson. She looked at two people who received massive amounts of attention--Madonna for being hyper sexualized and scandalous, and Manson for being aggressively controversial--and instead of saying, "Let me come up with something new in that same family of publicity," said, "I'll just do both of those things, all the time." . . .

. . . It's that same publicity-machine mentality that informs everything that Gaga does. "Here are two things that people got famous for. If I do both of those things louder, faster and with more frequency than anyone else, the world will look at me under the assumption that what I'm doing must be interesting."

But she's not. She's the kid who ate worms at lunch because, "Hey, at least people are looking at me." And now the whole world watches what she does. People who actively avoid pop music have heard of her. She was one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People. She's tricked everyone into believing she's some creative genius, and she's just going to keep doing weird, pointless, nonsense bullshit until she's dethroned by the next incarnation of Lady Gaga, some little boy or girl who is at this moment quietly learning all of Gaga's lessons for their own cartoonish version of pop stardom. She's doing it all while A) making loads of money and B) dressed like a cracked-out Wookiee-poacher at a Rod Stewart lookalike contest.

(For that last sentence, at the link, there is a picture of her looking exactly like "a cracked-out Wookiee-poacher at a Rod Stewart lookalike contest)

Cedarford said...

"Lady Gaga is the logical consequence of Madonna, both talentless and witless."

Alex said... Nonsense. When Gaga stops clowning around and just plays the piano, it's great:

[HD] Lady GaGa - Paparazzi Acoustic Version
Agree. She is a superior vocalist, composer, and instrument player. She leads in music video award nominations this year with 13.

Many of these performers turn out to have a "gift" making them adept in many arts - broad polymath talent.
Gada is one of them.

"Paparazzi", accoustic, U-Tube - is wonderful piano work.
For her vocals, "Bad Romance" is a stunningly good track and it is good it got the airplay it did.

Sixty Grit said...

Rick - that's bad news about the bike.

And, remember, you can be hip until you break a hip.

Anonymous said...

I find it hilarious that people accuse Madonna and Lady Gaga of being talentless and witless.

They could be talentless but very clever. This would account for their wealth and success.

They could be witless but just so good at pop music that it doesn't matter. This would account for their wealth and success.

There is no workable thesis, however, where they could be both talentless and witless.

Think about it. Stop deluding yourselves, lest you look talentless and witless.

Binah said...

Lady Gaga has some limited musical talent, I'll admit, but that's about it.

I'm fortysomething, and not yet a geezer, I think. I kept listening in the 90s and more recently, but hear less and less interesting stuff. It is Boomer demographics; we didn't invent the rock-n-roll era, but we were the mass market for it, and we're not 20 any more.

I also didn't mean to imply that everything was roses in the late 70s; it was the era of disco, after all -- and all that bloated heavy metal and prog rock so effectively parodied in Spinal Tap.

The reason that the Beatles are still so popular (rightly so, in my view) is that, apart from their talent, they came along closer to the era when there was a single, adult-controlled popular culture. Those adults eventually (sometimes grudgingly) admitted their genius. Pop culture today is both much more juvenile and more fragmented.

Palladian said...

I love listening to adults arguing about the merits of the latest pop music trend. No wonder our Republic is circling the drain.

And the "geezer" thing is just a tiresome boomer affectation... you know, don't trust anyone over thirty, man. Don't be one of the squares! Don't be plastic, man!

A 63-year-old pop academic writing about the merits of one pop performer over another?
Give me an intelligent, square, plastic geezer any old day.

Good music, to me, is about contrapuntal integrity. Or at least a believable emotional or poetic experience.

Al Aleem said...

I always thought that the wonderful thing about getting old is that I'm no longer obliged to have an opinion, positive or negative, on the subject of Lady Gaga. And I'm less than half of Camille Paglia's age.

Synova said...

Aw, nuts. And I missed this whole conversation.

It's seems obvious to me that Lady Gaga isn't "real" and I just assume that "kids these days" know that she isn't real. She's an avatar or whatever... always in character.

What I thought was sort of ironic was that Tina Turner and Janis Joplin were cited as good examples. One stayed in an abusive marriage for nearly ever, and didn't the other OD?

Someone who knows she's playing a part might be less likely to forget what's real. It's my hope.

Robert said...

So the old geezer wannabe taste maker discovers pop music is vapid garbage? Or she prefers her vapid garbage of old over today's vapid garbage, as evidenced by her support for Madonna?

Here's a better question, if you're arguing over shitty pop music why should I bother taking you seriously? It's like the ten year old girls who would argue Backstreet Boys versus N'Sync. It's crap, you don't know it's crap, you will one day soon realize it's crap. But the difference is I don't fault a ten year old for not knowing better.

But it's not even about music is it? It's Paglia lamenting about how in her day people looked up to a higher class of whore. And that's even sadder.

James said...

Seven Machos:

I'm not arguing that she is either talentless or witless. It's just that the amount of talent or intelligence is not comparable to the amount of attention/praise she gets.

Again from my link:

"Stefani realized that the "Soulful Chick Songwriter Market" was tapped, so she decided to go an alternate route (the "Shrieking Shemale Star-Goblin Market"). When it was clear that she wasn't going to be selling out any tours as a songstress, she very carefully crafted a persona that was deliberately designed to drive as much attention towards herself as possible. There was a moment where she decided "This act won't sell. Let's come up with one that does." Her whole authentic, artistic character was decided by committee in a marketing meeting. Maybe she's smarter than everyone else who is struggling to break into the music industry. She saw how completely retarded pop culture was and decided to embrace it. She found out what was going to attract attention and exploited it to turn into a star, in a celebrity-by-numbers sort of way. As a businesswoman, she is incredibly shrewd--the amount of magazine covers, awards and nominations she's gotten in the past year alone is staggering. But she's not an artist, she's a product."

So yes, she realized what horrible taste the pop music consuming portion of the population has, and found a way to exploit every aspect of it. Horrible music? Check. Oversexualized lyrics? Check. Ridiculous outfits? Check. "Outlandish" behavior? Check. Constant media blitz? Check.

We aren't saying that she isn't smart, in being able to exploit the crappy taste of the pop music market. She knew exactly what to do to get attention and make boatloads of money. We're saying that holding her up as anything other than an incredibly awful, yet still somehow ridiculously popular, pop music entertainer is a joke.

Republican said...

Camille is picking a fight with Gaga because it's all she can do.

Her million word essay says nothing more than I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I?. Just blahblah.

Paglia shows how one-dimensional she is by continuing to support old-lady Madonna, and by refusing to recognize young, fresh performers like Gaga.

She doesn't have a clue what Gaga is "about". (and it shows)

Alex said...

Honestly I don't really care what Gaga is "about", for me it's all about the music and I like her songs. I don't care for her avatar, clown outfits and outrageous behavior. As long as she continues making great music, who cares?

Anonymous said...

the amount of talent or intelligence is not comparable to the amount of attention/praise she gets

My God, man. Get over it. That happens everywhere, every second of every day.

For your next harangue: life isn't fair. Discuss.

Alex said...

Who is Paglia anyways? Gaga is the #1 superstar in the world right now and nobody gives 2 shits about the aging, decrepit Paglia. Life is a bitch, aint it?

Anonymous said...

Camille Paglia is a great, great writer who has said some cutting things and was and remains impossible to peg. In a lot of ways, she was a proto-blogger as well before there was blogging.

However, here she sounds like a curmudgeon.

ampersand said...

This is the dawning of the age of Egalabus.

Mick said...

That would be "tile floor" these days.

Clyde said...

Okay, her act is derivative, but that meat dress is gonna make the painfully earnest PETA types soil themselves. That's alright with me!

Clyde said...

And she was all ready for the after party: Just go any place with a grill!

cube said...

I don't always agree with Paglia, but, strewn here and there in her overly long essays, she usually manages to make interesting points.

Gaga is a talented musician and songwriter. Madonna, also a highly marketed product herself, is not.

I never liked Madonna, and although I don't care for unusual antics, I find myself liking much of Gaga's music, especially the early stuff.

Now get off my lawn!!!!

Pablo Snooze said...

Thing is, as usual, she's right. Gaga's persona is the complete abandonment of intellect, and it's not interesting, and it's not sexy. (Too bad, as the music itself isn't bad - for pop/dance stuff.)

I'd rather listen to another adopted persona, Alice Cooper, singing about Cold Ethyl. He took himself way less seriously.

And why do people think they have the right to go on somebody else's lawn? Why does that make you young and hip? I've always hated that cliché.

Abu Nudnik said...

Pagila had never been afraid of appearing to be out of fashion. It's shallowness she disdains and rigor in thought she appeals to. I don't suppose the OP would understand that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

To shoutingthomas:

Gaga's music isn't a "con" because it's overtly about image rather than sound.

If you want to be able to tolerate (and perhaps enjoy) pop like gaga, you have to see the music in the image, like a pop painting. Close your ears and open your eyes.

I go into a pile drive on the gaga and paglia at

But you may find it intolerably long winded.