miercuri, 6 iulie 2011

Gagaism, the post-hipster culture

It is not appropriate to bring Gaga in a conversation when you are in a hipster setting. The comments Stephen Fry's article received from the Financial Times readers show it is not a serious subject for discussion in a yuppy environment either. But I will give it a try.

The hipsters will look down on the matter if not for anything else at least for Lady Gaga's appeal to the large (and frowned upon) mainstream. "Judas", the latest theatrical imposture of the star, is well above 70 million views on YouTube, confirming that her new album is indeed a success. To the hipster Lady Gaga is old news and not only that, she was never new to begin with: an amalgamation of such a long list of iconic names, Lady Gaga's copy-cat persona will clash with the need for change that concerns the hipster. In this respect, she only seems to imitate her way through the hallway of fame, a commercial fraud like the Coke cans in her hairdo. Take the outrageous outfits off, then throw away her self-conscious wigs and wash off the strong makeup - what's left there? - the hipster will ask.

But the truth is not even the hipster knows what is hidden under the mask. Lady Gaga's message is confusing, seems incoherent. "I want your love and I want your disease, I want your everything as long as it's free, I want your love". Utter nonsense or not really? Quite the opposite to the dada lyrics of "The Yellow Submarine", Lady Gaga's words are much for their own sake, just as her image is too evident. There was a time when the dispossessed, the alternative crowd, were well off the beaten path of prime time, hanging in exclusive corners. Trying to capitalise on the exact same thing but under the spotlights of pop stardom, and successfully managing to do so, Lady Gaga is representative of a new generation. But what generation is that?

Let's think about it. The effort the hipster used to invest in reading speciality magazines and hunting down new forms of artistic expression is deemed irrelevant nowadays. All you need now is an account on Facebook and some strategically placed subscriptions. The well kept secret is not so secret anymore. Think Apple: it used to be an identifiable gadget for the hipster, now people just buy their products... well, because they are actually good value for money. The same happened with music: we used to listen to a few albums over and over again. Now we like to listen to a bit of everything, we reinvented ourselves as eclectic consumers. Of course, music has to suffer from all this: think about what happens with house music lately thanks to the big sell-out lead by David Guetta. And so we get back to Lady Gaga and her music. Because all you need to do these days to impress is to put on a show, to act as if, to construct what Gaga calls a theatrical persona but ultimately is just a teaser.

There is a certain self blame the hipster has to gulp down with a little grain of salt. Creating the elitist circles, discriminating based on random symbols and patterns, that was not enough to ensure evolution. Was not creating art but rather destroying it and the word got out that anybody can be cool in a new different way that did not require much participatory effort. The hipster cannot strike back because his own message was futile and his workings were unproductive, too much self for anything to be as sustainable as to be called artistic. Lady Gaga is saying now: Who said there has to be a message? Yes, I am dressed up all gothic and I am singing about Roberto. Do you have a problem with that? I am the bitch of Jesus and I love Judas. Also, here is a nice shot of me with a waterfall as a backdrop. Not really related, but who gives a fuck? It has to be nice, it doesn't need to mean anything! What's wrong with a meat dress, shut up you vegans and shut up you pork lovers. It's just fashion, OK? Look, I have cigarette glasses! Who thought of that first? I did!

The hipster used to complain about ignorance in a very self-conscious manner, not seeking to educate but to discriminate. Lady Gaga is doing the next best thing: she takes advantage of a bad situation.

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