REVIEWED IN WORDS Lady Gaga – Born This Way (Interscope)
by Scott Creney
A year ago I started to think that Lady Gaga might be on the verge of great things — a blood-soaked MTV Awards performance, two CLASSIC pop singles in ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Bad Romance’, murderous videos with a body count of asshole men who deserved to die, and then footage surfaced of Gaga performing with Yoko Ono six months ago.
Gaga seemed to be turning into a true pop artist, one committed to taking risks, to see how far she could push herself. The stranger she acted, the better she got. The weirder she became, the more people liked it. This Lady Gaga thing was getting very interesting. I couldn’t wait to see (or hear, with Gaga the two can never really be separated) what she did next.
Like a lot of people, I was — to say the least — underwhelmed. ‘Born This Way’ sounded derivative, forced, and I found its message — Gaga was now the straight messiah, here to lead the gay community to the promised land of self-acceptance — profoundly irritating. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one.
Immediately when ‘Born This Way’ hit the airwaves a furor ran through my gay friends’ Facebook status about how much the song sucked and how disappointed they were.
Perhaps people were disappointed that when Gaga addressed ‘Gay’ she dressed it up in a song that sounded pretty damn stereotypically gay. And not in the cool way. If ever there was a gay anthem 101 prototype it most certainly could be ‘Express Yourself (Shep Pettibone Single Mix)’ meets Bronski Beat meets ‘Waterfalls’ meets Donna Summer. The most insulting thing about ‘Born This Way’ was the miscalculation Lady Gaga made in not realizing the ‘gay’ that she’s presenting is exactly the gay we’re moving away from. It’s no wonder Elton John loved the song. He would. The world wanted a gay anthem that sounded like Lady Gaga, not Lady Gaga sounding like a stereotypical gay anthem.
Up until now, Gaga’s songs became gay anthems because gay men empathized with her songs. The gay community chose her songs as their own. Now she’s insisting on it, and it makes the whole thing feel forced, contrived, and a little bit manipulative. ‘Born This Way’ sees Gaga ‘giving voice’ to the gay community, anointing herself as their spokesperson. Fine, whatever. Better she attempt to change the world and look stupid, than just sing about being rich and fucking a lot, right?
Yet, judging by her music and her videos, Gaga sees gay people pretty much the same way most of the straight world does, including the bigots & fanatics who pitch them shit and deny them their equal rights in the first place. In Gaga’s world, homosexuals are first and foremost different. They are faceless, they are male, they are ultra-muscular and obsessed with their bodies, they are relentlessly sexual, constantly horny, they are always victims, they can only be seen in terms of their sexual orientation, and (best of all for people made uncomfortable by the idea of homosexuality as a pleasurable, enjoyable experience) THEY CAN’T HELP BEING GAY. They would NEVER suck cock or otherwise if they had a CHOICE. They were just BORN THIS WAY.
Like Odd Future, Gaga can only see homosexuals as the ‘other’, as deviant and strange. Ultimately, they are a cipher, someone not like her. Gaga’s love is, in many ways, merely the flipside of Tyler’s hate. It is a type of smothering, a love that kills, the love of a four-year-old girl for her favorite stuffed animal. And just like in that relationship, one of them will remain silent as Gaga does the talking for both of them.
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