By Spencer Smith
Let's agree to look past the retro '80s beat and the Madonna rip-off feel of her new single "Born This Way," and let's have a grown up conversation about Lady Gaga.
Not since Michael Jackson (or maybe Madonna) has a pop star so deliberately and effectively divided the pop nation. It is a coveted role that many stars try to occupy at one point or another in their careers. Kanye West has been trying for years, but he has nowhere near the following Lady Gaga has. The closest he ever came to being the politically charged, socially conscious conversation-starter was when he said that President Bush hated black people.
Lady Gaga, however, successfully speaks to a specific political and social sphere. And she does so controversially and confidently. But I can't help but feel that she is cheating us.
There is gimmick in the Lady Gaga brand. "Just put your paws up!" she commands at the beginning of her new song. That, of course, is in reference to her Little Monster fan base. While this phenomenon seems to have a very organic beginning - the title of her "Fame Monster" - it seems a little contrived.
The Little Monster gimmick makes people believe that they are part of a spat-on, under-respected, rejected community, and that they are safe under Lady Gaga. That sweet Mother Lady Gaga won't hurt them, won't call them names, will love them no matter what.
So the freakiest of freaks are welcome at a Lady Gaga concert. They will put their paws up with the rest of the crowd, and they will be accepted.
It is this juggling of contradictions that allows Lady Gaga her universal appeal. She really isn't saying anything. Her fans were "born this way," but they also need a safe place to be accepted. They are Little Monsters - rejected by the main stream but not willing to revel in that rejection.
Every time a straight 15-year-old girl begins to describe herself as a Little Monster, Lady Gaga loses a little bit of her mystique, and her ideology becomes a little more universal. When a 15-year-old begins identifying with the Gaga message, she is not thinking that she just wants to love herself. She is looking for acceptance.
The Gaga universe is filled with double-speak. Even with her "f-you" attitude, she still cares what the public thinks. She cares a lot. She wants the public to continue to marginalize her, to get outraged at her latest fashion choice, to comment on her genitalia. She wants that so she can have the market on every person who has ever felt out of place, encompassing every adolescent ever.
Lady Gaga does do important things. I think "Don't Ask Don't Tell" would have been repealed without her, but who knows? Maybe she was more important in that than I think. But even if she is important, she is giving a fantasy to millions of fans. What happens when Gaga disappears? What happens to the community she has created?
They will find out that they are built on nothing - that they simultaneously yearn for the acceptance of their peers and to be different. Where will Little Monsters go in the post-Gaga era?
Spencer Smith is a sophomore studying philosophy and English, and a columnist for The Post. Little Monsters, e-mail Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.