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Camille Paglia slams Lady Gaga as a derivative, unsexy copycat

lady gaga.JPGBaby 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.

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Posted by Victoria Freeman on September 12, 2010

Comments

“…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.”

TOO RIGHT!!!

I found Paglia’s missive rather cheap and unoriginal. Gaga is an easy target, and furthermore Gaga herself would validate everything that Paglia “accuses” her of: copycatting, asexuality, et al. This all makes Paglia as unoriginal as her target.

After this long a “hiatus” (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/camille_paglia/index.html ) I expected more from Camille. Apparently teaching and writing a book have depleted her.

Paglia steps out of her self-imposed literary prison simply to attack Gaga? Cheap shot, Lady Literata!!! She didn’t even draw any of the social, cultural, financial, or anthropological parallels on which her reputation is built!

I’m sorely disappointed. Disillusioned may be the better word.

Oh, and it pisses me off that one is unable to read the entirety of the Paglia piece without subscribing. Cheap begot mercenary. I feel slimed.

Posted by: Sorceress | September 12, 2010 5:46 PM

what the hell would this woman know?
shes only known as a social critic.
lady gaga has achieved SO much more than what this woman EVER will in her entire life.

gaga has created her own genre, in both music and style.
she has a one-off persona and personality. and NOBODY could ever compete with her.
so i dont know where the whole "copycat" bullcrap has come from. because there is nobody else out there who is like gaga!!!

i would happily stand up for gaga. shes my idol. shes changed my life so much its incredible.

Paglia can go fuck herself.
she knows nothing!
get back to your teaching you boring bland bitch!

Posted by: becky | September 12, 2010 6:06 PM

Becky, I hope you're being facetious.

Lady Gaga is 100% manufactured. There's no sincerity, genuineness, no reality, not even surreality to her. Even her "emotions" are canned.

What you guys are missing on this piece is the point that the disingenuity of Lady Gaga and the public acceptance of that as their "reality" says more about today's society than it does about Lady Gaga herself. That "reality" is sad indeed.

Posted by: not becky | September 12, 2010 6:39 PM

An old biddy journalist who has not done her research. I was seething with anger when i read this awful sorry excuse for an article. She is using Lady Gaga as an excuse to complain about the 'internet' generation. Just a bored old woman complaining about 'the youth of today'. LEAVE LADY GAGA ALONE.

Posted by: Lydia | September 12, 2010 6:54 PM

this article is extreamly poor.

firstly the quotes used from lady gagas songs are labbled wrong "got no salvation got no religion" (so happy i could die)" is actually from teeth.

Secondly, the fact that this women has completly insulted Lady Gaga through out this whole article is extreamly out of order claiming shes the "diva of Dejavu" implieing she is unorignal is outragouse.

Thirdly claiming that Gaga doesnt have "powerful vocal styles" if this so called gurnalist actaully tuck the time to listen to lady gagas album the fame or the fame monster and listend to tracks like "brown eyes" or "speechless" or watch any of her lives performances of heer acoustic piano songs she would realise that Lady Gaga has pure raw tallent and can sing without relieing on backing vocals or voice modification technology.

Im extreamly angerd by this article, and suggest that Camille Paglia actually reads what she i writing instead of slating someone who is th complete opposite of what she is saying.

Posted by: Lance Breakwell | September 12, 2010 7:54 PM

Ignorant GAGA bots please quit posting; you are the most vacuous, obtuse, clueless and helpless generation of men and women that this world has ever seen. Gaga is NASTY looking, plastic, fake and has not one iota of musical talent. She sings into an autotuner and has other musicians compose her "music". Anyone who admires or finds a role model in Lady Gaga is destined to be a failure both socially and professionally. Good luck finding a decent mate ( or a company that actually wants you to work there) you self centered, needy and arrogant Gaga bots.

Posted by: GagaTheHerpesMonster | September 12, 2010 8:37 PM

Expect she doesn't sing into an auto-tuner, works on her music herself, and is a classically trained pianist who plays quite well. As far as being "nasty looking" or "ugly", Paglia also uses this and its pretty pathetic considering everything she is supposed to stand for. She has become what she used to hate forty years ago.

Posted by: Charles Bronson | September 12, 2010 9:30 PM

I accept that Gaga will draw criticism and that she polarises opinion. But this article, and comments such as those made by "GagaTheHerpesMonster" are the definition of ignorant, actually. Just because you dont like her music, or the fact that she walks round rather underdressed, or whatever, doesn't means she is talentless (early entry to Tisch School of the Arts anyone?). Nor does it mean that her fans are stupid and "destined to be a failure both socially and professionally"- nice generalisation, HerpesMonster, and you call me the ignorant one- I'm a 5th year student doctor, by the way.

Posted by: Hayley | September 12, 2010 9:50 PM

Camille Paglia misses the point big time in this one. We know Lady Gaga is manufactured and vapid, and futhermore, thats her schtick. She's conscious of it, she sings about it. "We're all plastic but we still have fun." Fun and theatrics is what she's selling, not sex. Camille needs to stop taking herself so seriously and stop criticizing an entire generation because she doesn't understand them. Hmmm I wonder what the 50 somethings were saying about her generation when she was 20! Not original.

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