Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” — viewed almost 80 million times on YouTube in the last three months. That doesn’t mean it’s great, but it does mean that, for the under-25 set, she’s offering something they want; and it apparently includes an anxiety-free transgendered sexuality with lots of neo-70s-glam set to a mid-tempo Europop beat. That a problem?
Maria Bustillos puts the smackdown on Camille Paglia for her contemptuous dismissal of Lady Gaga. (According to Paglia, Gaga — at age 24 and weighing in at 97 pounds — is responsible for “the death of sex.”)
Paglia’s Sexual Personae was first published twenty years ago, and since then the author does not appear to have offered us much beyond the news that she thought Madonna was very sexy. In 1990, the wild acclaim for Sexual Personae led people to suppose that Paglia would become a public intellectual of the rock-star stature of Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag or Bernard-Henri Lévy. That did not happen because Paglia is a nutcase who, among many other instances of self-promoting perversity, attacked Anita Hill, expressed contempt for Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi and many, many others, and went bonkers over Sarah Palin, commenting breathlessly, “We may be seeing the first woman president.” She also had something or other to say about some poems! Whatever. Paglia’s denunciation of Lady Gaga is about as perspicacious as her oeuvre since Sexual Personae might have led anyone to expect (plus, she still thinks Madonna was very sexy, “on fire”, “the imperious Marlene Dietrich’s true heir”, etc.)
Lady Gaga is “in over her head with her avant-garde pretensions,” Paglia announces, going on to demonstrate her own total cluelessness as to what might constitute an avant-garde at this point. Like many another superannuated commenter on the modern scene, she has no problem deploring the Youth she makes no attempt to understand. . . .
Bustillos goes on to say that Lady Gaga is to Madonna what David Bowie was to Elvis Presley: “Not so obvious, a little freaky, weird, a little ambiguous, not so much trying to arouse.”