Camille Paglia slams Lady Gaga as a derivative, unsexy copycat
Baby boomer, feminist writer and inveterate scrapper Camille Paglia has had a bit of a pop at Lady Gaga and her fans in the Sunday Times today. The fans, Gaga's "little monsters", are apparently "marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty". Righto, Camille.
Paglia's main criticism of Gaga herself relates to her plundering of pop culture's back catalogue to construct her image. However, the fact that Gaga owes much to Madonna, Bowie and Warhol can be of little news to anyone other than the her most tweenage of fans. There is nothing new under the sun and, as Paglia rightly points out, her own heroine Madonna owed much to Marlene Dietrich.
Fashion and Music have long since ceased to present anything truly original and we find ourselves in a recycling loop where the principle adopters of new trends are those young enough to have never known them before. From that point of view, of course Lady Gaga is going to seem fresh and challenging. Each generation is hungry for novelty and if you compare Gaga with the baby lap dancer aesthetic of the likes of Britney Spears, then the artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotti is going to seem revolutionary.
This brings me to Paglia's other criticism of Gaga. Which is that, despite peddling a musical narrative that is rooted firmly in sex, she is herself not very sexy. Or more specifically, not as sexy as Madonna. This rather misses the point, as the Boy Toy's heirs ended up being the Britneys and the Pussycat Doll's of this world, who bought her idea that empowerment came from appearing as sexually available as possible. Lady Gaga's more stylised and austere look may involve the wearing of jeweled lingerie to the gym, but it screams "don't touch!". It is as if she is trying to reclaim the sexual power that was frittered away by previous generations.
Paglia's article has created a frenzy of comment on Twitter, some of it vicious and much of it making reference to her age. The journo Caitlin Moran was even moved to refer to her as a "mad old bag". None of this will be new to Camille Paglia, who has survived verbal cat fights with such feminist heavyweights as Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, but it rather saddens me. Despite their feminist principles and paying lip service to the equality cause, women most often reserve the full force of their wrath for ripping in to other women. It seems that we just can't seem to get away with seeing each other as competition, rather than sisters under the skin.
Read more on Lady Gaga over at Osoyou.